Free Champagne

photo: cafe bouquet, friday 8 june 2001

Friday night and it it's 'street' weather.

And Street Eats

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 11. June 2001:- I wasn't going to write about last week's weather because it was disgusting, and it's past anyway. I really thought this until I went out yesterday a few minutes before noon and found my sidewalk washed in sunshine.

The only thing special about my street is that it is like a canyon 172 metres long and 12 metres wide - with its bottom being seven stories below the two rows of buildings on either side. Sunshine in it is more rare than shadow at the best of times.

If the sky is clear the sun can shine into the street for a while in the morning, with blue shade being dominant all afternoon, and then the setting sun slants into it again in the late afternoon until it drops behind the buildings over in the Rue Boulard.

My apartment's walls are over half a metre thick, so the sun needs some special angles to actually get in my set-back windows. Usually I have to go out on the sidewalk to learn what is really happening.

This short trip was worth it for a while yesterday. The sun, I thought, is shining on my street - it'sphoto: repas quartier bonus sun, not even in the week's, or in Saturday night's forecast.

Just warm enough, just light enough, for neighborhood 'street eats' in June.

The answer for this turned out to be simple. Sunday evening's TV-weather news was interrupted after the weather lady said what the weather was like on Sunday. Then she ran the cute animal 'video-clip of the week.'

After this she added that Météo-France had been on strike since Friday - which meant that Saturday's TV-predictions were total fantasy - which also explained yesterday's surprising 'bonus' unpredicted sunshine.

And this explains why this coming week's weather in Paris will be magical mystery weather. Be prepared!

Café Life

Too Soon for Free Champagne

Once the 'ponts' of May are over, students get serious and hit their books to catch up on years' of study, so they can take their exams for the all-important 'Bac.' This is a definite signal that July is not long off.

At the same time, all the artists and art merchants open their doors for a final sales fling. This results in galleries, book and antique dealers sending out invitations to everyone and anybody who might be susceptible to buy some art.

I only had one of these invitations, but it was from a gallery in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, an upscale art-market part of town where I thought I was unknown. So it was more out of curiosity than anything else that took me to Concorde and up the Rue Royale, to turn left into the street of dreams for rich folks.

Going along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, glancing in the windows, noticing the fineness of it all - store fronts, shiny cars, chic shopping bags full of small things - I was only mildly surprised to be beeped by a passing Mercedes.

This was my upstairs neighbor photographer, on a hobnob tour - going point-to-point, parking spot to parking spot - rather than shuffling along the pavements. At least on foot, there are occasional fine whiffs of fine scents too.

When I came to the galley its door said 'pull' and when I did I thought the whole thing was going to fall on me because it was locked. Oh, I thought, I'm supposed to ring the bell I failed to notice because the door had 'pull' on it.

What I also failed to notice, was that this particular gallery's opening time was 18:30, because its invitation card was within the quartier's invitation, which said 17:00 to 22:00.

I wasn't really 'in the market' anyway, so I kept on going west. I turned left at Matignon then right into the Rue Rabelais to get to the Rue Jean-Mermoz, which I remembered had something interesting in it, but no longerphoto: memoires d'un rat has. Taking a sharp left at the end swung me into the Rue du Colisée.

This brought me to a shop window with a mannequin dressed as a WWI soldier, with some other war mementos and a white rat on a leash of white string.

The window display for 'Les Mémoires d'un Rat' is the best in the Rue du Colisée.

The publisher, Louis Pariente, happened to see me looking at his window. He explained that its display advertised a re-edited version of 'Les Mémoires d'un Rat,' which is a daily account of real life in the trenches - as told by a rat, because of military censorship.

Written by Pierre Chaine and with a preface by Anatole France, it is illustrated with fluent watercolors by Charles Herissy.

Its 256 pages of text are augmented by 68 pages of notes, written by Liliane Pariente. 'Les Mémoires d'un Rat' comes in two versions - as a 2000-copy limited edition covered in leather, and as a 150 franc soft cover book. ISBN 2-84059-051-4.

I started out to look at one gallery out of 90 in and around the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and saw none. Instead I found 'Ferdinand' the rat for you - brand-new and guaranteed to be rare.

Save the Bélière!

While the students are cramming and the galleries are 'opening' their doors, residents of Paris' '100 villages' are getting together to have informal dinners outside - in market locations or at any handy spots available for setting up a few trestle-tables.

Two of these were happening near me on Friday afternoon. I scanned the small group of neighbors assembled in the market place, then went up Daguerre to find the 'Save the Bélière' association in a blind alley opposite the jazz restaurant.

The Bélière is the local 'cause.' It is an authentic music café-restaurant from another era - either pre-war or the '50's - threatened by a building promoter, and its time is up at the end of this month.

Local action has delayed its extinction for some time now, and vague promises were made during the recent municipal elections. Behind the al fresco diners in the alley, there was an info post, and Patrice Maire and Jean-Pierre were working at keeping spirits up.

The newly elected mayor of the 14th arrondissement, Pierre Castagnou, arrived with the deputy mayor, Jean-Paul Millet. Onephoto: mayor pierre castagnou, jean pierre lady noticed that the mayor is much more suntanned than the any of the voters present - but this seemed to be no more or less so than on the election posters.

New Mayor Pierre Castagnou of the 14th, listening to voter Jean-Pierre.

Monsieur le Maire was much more optimistic about the fate of the Bélière than its defender, Patrice Maire, who says there is too little time left - and there's no funding to buy the promoter off anyway. 'Negotiations' were mentioned by Pierre Castagnou all the same.

The diners continued with their main business. When I left and swung past the market place again, the other group of neighborhood residents were slightly more than before.

Summer Sales In Paris

An informal poll of shops on the avenue has had two out of three of them predicting that this year's 'Soldes d'Ete' will begin on Tuesday, 26. June and they will continue for six weeks. The dissenter guessed the start date would be Thrursday, 28. June. If it turns out you are early and to be the latter date, get in shape for shopping by running up and down Montmartre for two days.

Metropole's Photos for You

The offer of Metropole's large-format photos stumbles this week with this link to last week's photo / image page. For good photos I wasn't ever in the right place at the right time last week.

Each week one or two 'best' photos - or a cartoon - will be presented on their own page. On this page you will find that large versions of these photos are for sale. If you see another one you like in the issue, ask for it instead.

More details are on this week's 'Photo' page. Check it out. Any suggestions, advice and comments, will be welcome.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

The club's latest meeting on Thursday had some odd incidents such as one new members' email address being identical to another's license-plate number, and one of the club's official cheapo pens ran out of ink at the same time as the other one disappeared. Such high drama!

Although you probably have something better to do, you can read the 'report' about the club's meeting anyway. The details of it are just as unlikely as they used to be. For example, 'Scoop' Maginniss wants some meetings to be held at a racetrack - especially if there are racehorses at it.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 14. June 2001. This coming meeting will be fairly usual because it will happen on Sainte-Elisée's Day, which will be on a Thursday this year for a change.

All Metropole readers and future club members are urged take a look at the current version of 'About the Club,' which is handy for finding out about the club's raison d'être, its meeting time and location and so on, and other lesserphoto: jazz resto la beliere facts such as being free, except for your own drinks tab.

This page also contains other former rules about this club in Paris - including its location map - for you, who are either 'Metropole Paris' readers, Café Metropole Club members, or meeting reports' readers - or are in Paris for any reason or no particular reason at all.

'Save the Bélière!' - but the moving van is for somebody else's move.

If you do fall into a couple of these categories, but are doubtful about Paris geography, rip the map off your computer screen and glue it into your passport - right beside your glued-in membership card.

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to you and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has a reservation service for a wide selection of Paris hotels. Check out their offers and make your choice long before your arrival in France.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' as well as travel insurance for potential Paris visitors. If you've signed up for these services before you need them suddenly you will benefit from them. I hope won't be the case but you can never tell.

'Petanque America' imports quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you the effort of carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. Nearly everybody can play this game, nearly anywhere.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.24 - 12. June 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Exclusive Art Discovery.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Mega Johnny Lights Mega Fire.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Peep! "Hey! Move it! Hey!" Peep!' The club's weekly update on 15. June featured, I think, 'What Happened?' And the club's regular column's title was 'A Cavalcade of 'Firsts.' The 'Scene' column'sphoto: sign, allee arthur rimbaud title was 'Varoom-varooooom Weekend.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Johnny Sells Out.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.24 - 14. June1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'My Euro Vote.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Good News Week: No Strikes.' This issue had one feature, 'The Palms of Paris.' There was also a 'Club' thing titled 'The Flat Hunt.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Flying High With 'Lylo.' This is always true. There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'One Palm Tea, Please.' Tea, tea! Not tree.

The 'Count-Up/Down' - Version 24

Readers have possibly forgotten what this is about. I can't say I blame you, because having a 'count-up' of days since so-and-so first arrived in Paris is hardly breath-taking. If doesn't matter if it was Julius Caesar or Gertrude Stein.

The 'count-down' began in 1998 or 1999 with the dubious 'subtract-days' display on the Tour Eiffel - a 'count-down' to the year 2000, which was merely to the beginning of the last year of the last century of the last millennium.

Since then time has moved on and we've managed to get ourselves into the 21st century and the third millennium for real.

With this and all the optimismphoto: poster, arsenal, jean prouve et paris that it implies, we now only have the 'count-down' to the introduction of the new European currency - which is exciting in some parts of Europe but is probably a bit ho-hum elsewhere.

In France, 'euro'-propaganda has swung into heavy rotation and I bet we will all be thoroughly sick of it by the time the second half of the year starts, 19 days from now. Looking slightly further ahead the 'euro' currency introduction day will be on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01 and not two minutes before.

At the Pavillon de l'Arsenal now - the expo 'Jean Prouvé et Paris.'

The number of days remaining this year is 203. This means you still have about 232 days left to trade in your hoard of ratty old FF's for a lesser bunch of brand-new shiny 'euros.'

For those uncomfortable with nearly everything metric, European or new, you should look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for totally clear and exact information.

Almost everything here already carries 'euro' and franc amounts on the price stickers. If you ignore the 'euro' amount and simply pay in francs until the end of this year, you will have nothing to worry about.
signature, regards, ric

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