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 ere slightly more than before.


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