The Big Yawn of the Week

photo: terrace tables, la corona

Cool terrace, cool cocktails waiting to be served -
but drivers are not tempted.

And Other Exciting Stories

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 9. July 2001:- After having a touch of wonderfully warm and sunny weather to go with Paris' late-June holiday send-off of some of its residents to relaxing places where sun is also pretty much guaranteed, events in the sky here have returned to normal.

Not normal was an extra huge dump of rain over Saturday-Sunday in northern France that caused flooding, deaths and destruction. The storm was predicted, but its intensity was several notches higher than forecasted.

The week's first-half forecast for France's northern third calls for a regular routine of clouds and some rain, and not many sunny periods. Hope can be held out for next weekend if you are generally hopeful - and since it will be the Bastille day weekend, I am going to join the hopeful.

Café Life

Stunt Driving

You can see Paris drivers doing some strange things if you aren't running for your life, but most of the time Paris traffic resembles a vast bumper-car scene, where the object is to actually avoid bumping into other items of traffic.

To do this drivers have to constantly have their wits with them and their hands on the wheel, because odd obstacles can pop up anytime - not necessarily including pedestrians - and swift evasive action may be necessary to avoid having to spend a lot of time explaining the inexplicable later.

While Parisians are not particularly shy about making strange maneuvers, it is interesting to see how quickly visiting drivers can get into the spirit of the game.

On the way to La Corona on the Quai du Louvre last Thursday, I noticed a Mercedes 'A' model parked at the curb, onphoto: jardin palais royal the café's side, with its emergency lights blinking. I thought, 'Somebody has just popped into the café to get a postage stamp or aspirin or something.'

More coolness - in the gardens of the Palais Royal.

But I was wrong. The driver was studying the play of the traffic lights 20 metres behind him, at the corner of the Quai du Louvre and the Rue de l'Amiral Coligny. When the situation seemed right, the Mercedes began to reverse slowly - against the direction of the oncoming four lanes of traffic.

He was doing this in one of these lanes, but he did it slowly and oncoming cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles effectively dodged around him - allowing him to back right into the intersection - to a position where he could turn left. This was done successfully, without undue panic and no crazed horns blazing.

The fairly new European-style license plates are identical, with the registration number in black on white, with a narrow blue stripe on one side with the country ID in it, and it is very small.

In this driver's case it was a 'D' for Germany. If things haven't changed there much, what this driver did would have caused him some sessions with a police traffic psychologist - but, as it turned out okay, doing this in Paris may have been this motorist's best memory of his visit.

Anyone for Barbecued Cheese?

Late yesterday I got a dinner invitation I couldn't refuse, partly because I was hungry, and partly because I get very few of them - last minute or otherwise. Of course, time away from 'Ed's' office on Sunday night gets tacked on to 'Ed' being in the same office much later than he wants to be on Monday.

The location was a nearby private second floor terrace, possibly larger than the apartment it is attached to. Having a place suitable for barbecues in rare in Paris and having barbecued ribs is rare for me.

Even rarer still was the hostess' notionphoto: barbeque terrace of tossing a whole wooden-boxed wheel of Camembert into the still hot charcoal, and burying it good. The rest of our small party watched.

What you don't see from the street, or even from the courtyard - the moon and birds see.

We watched carefully. It is not every day you get to see a thing like this, and if you haven't seen it done before - well, it is like a first footstep on the moon. There's only going to be one 'first' time.

After a length of time neither short nor long, the Camembert was uncovered, with its wooden container looking like a big overdone and burnt marshmallow.

The tricky part was picking and peeling away the black-charred box, which eventually revealed a fondue-like thick Camembert soup. Into this we dipped pieces of baguette, and it was good. This 'Camembert sous la braise' was worth what I'll be paying for it tonight.

Europhoria or Europhobia?

I have been asking around to get an idea of how much of a shortage of coins for change there is going to be before the floodgates are opened on 1. January 2002 and we are doused with our new euros, and the necessary coins that go with them.

It is not unusual to see signs at cashiers appearing now, asking for payment with cheques or credit cards - because the Banque de France is not putting new coins into circulation, and is withdrawing coins so that it doesn't have to do it all at once during the evening between 31. December and 1. January 2002.

All the same, I was quite startled last week to hear, in a place where there are many visitors, a counter-lady say, "Euros? What a mess! We should switch to dollars and get it over with, once and for all, for everybody, for ever!"

Is It 'True' What They Say About Paris?

This issue contains the first installment of 'Is It True' even if I haven't quite figured out what it is yet. On one hand there are notions about the French and France, about Paris and Parisians - that may have been somewhat accurate at one time, but no longer are - but these false notions persist.

On the other hand simple mistakes are made - and published - about some fairly common things or practices. If these are read and believed by those not familiar with the way things are here, then the unwary might be confused about local behavior.

One of the reasons for visiting Paris is because it is not 'like at home.' It is not this way to expressly to cause you problems, even if it does cause problems for residents as wellphoto: paris tourist office, champs elysees as confusion for visitors. Basically, Paris supposed to be different. If it wasn't, you wouldn't be getting your money's worth.

Is it true? - Just ask at Paris' Tourist Office on the Champs- Elysées and you can find out more than you need to know.

There is a certain 'French logic' behind the way many things are, but this often confuses Parisians too, and they will freely admit it. All that 'Is It True?' will do is try to distinguish between the normal illogic and obvious mis-information.

For sending in 'finds,' as with the occasional Email features, you will be given credit for your eagle-eyes. The only 'fact' I will require is the name of the source, if you have it. If you don't have one, then the item will go into a subsection with the title of 'Is It a True Rumor?'

No New Metropole Photos for You

While 'Ed's' new monitor got tuned in - to probably be as good as it will get, last week's weather conspired against getting any superior photos - so no new ones are offered this week.

Continued on page 2...
Go to page : 1 - 2
In Metropole Paris
Latest Issue
2008 Issues
2007 | 2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003 | 2002
2001 | 2000 | 1999
1998 | 1997 | 1996
In Metropole Paris
About Metropole
About the Café Club
Links | Search Site
The Lodging Page
Paris Museums List
Metropole's 1996 Tours
Metropole's 2003 Tours
Support Metropole
Metropole's Books
Shop with Metropole
Metropole's Wine
metropole paris goodblogweek button
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini