Major New 'City of the Week'

photo: corona coligny terrace

No fancy sunset for La Corona's westward-facing
terrace today.

Only 3.5 Continents Left To Go

Paris:- Thursday, 2. August 2001:- As predicted in Monday's regular edition of this magazine, Paris has been having extreme weather again. With light breezes and blue skies, yesterday's high was 35 degrees - about 95 on the 'F' scale of degrees.

To me this did not seem as extreme as it appears on paper, or on this 'virtual' page. My guess is the light breeze made a huge difference.

While the city and the country baked, the Atlantic Ocean said enough is enough, and threw a screen of overcast across the sky this morning and even managed to drop a weak sprinkle in my naturally air-conditioned courtyard.

In the next couple of days, the forecast calls for normal weather - which means passing showers accompanied by temperatures 'normal for this time of year' dropping off to below normal for the weekend - which is actually 'normal' if you remember last year.

Heading downtown to Châtelet for the club meeting, I discovered that the métro had captured yesterday's heat and was saving it for some reason. Sitting very still in the wagon and thinking slowly about not much of anything did not lessen the effect, but made the trip seem shorter than it is.

Climbing out of the underground to set my feet on the Rue Rivoli was actually refreshing, but I took my usual back-alleys - oops - these are really 'streets' - to the club. Towardsphoto: double cafe the west, a dark grey sky was stacking up, overhanging the bourgeois in the 16th arrondissement.

A particular meeting might be short of members, but is never short of French café.

La Corona's 'grande salle' was emptier than usual when I arrived, although fair numbers of good troopers were trooping along the sidewalks of both sides of the Quai du Louvre - giving the impression of being at an exhibition that had escaped from the Porte de Versailles, in order to be beside the Seine's cooler breezes.

I must say, seen from a distance, that many of these presumably happy troopers were well dressed for a big day at the campsite. This style of dress in the centre of Paris is so common that it is unremarkable even if I mention it here.

Just after thunder began grumbling somewhere in the distance, Paula Wang arrived to join the club. She said she had gotten lost trying to get out of Châtelet's underground complex of tunnels.

Even though there is no club 'rule' about arriving 'on time' - except for the club's secretary! - getting lost in Châtelet's maze needs no apology.

Getting out of this approximation of the catacombs deserves a merit badge, and if the club ever introduces these for its members, one of the first to be minted will be 'First Order of Merit - I Escaped from Châtelet On a Club's Thursday.'

Beijing, in the Popular Republic of China, was where Paula Wang was born and grew up. She says, "When I was here for a week in 1998 I was so excited I didn't want to sleep - and had difficulty remembering to eat."

That first time she thought her entire experience in Paris was like a 'dream.' Things have calmed down a bit and today she says, "Now I feel like a real person - really here."

Paula tells me that she is a special correspondent based in New York for the 'China Business Times and Life' magazine, headquartered in Beijing.

One reason for being at a club meeting - besides to become a member - is to ask about how Metropole Paris survives. Paula is not overly pleased with my answer of 'magic.' This may not be strictly correct, but it is a better answer than saying, 'I don't know.'

Paris' traditional feeding times have also put Paula off a bit but she's solved the problem by simply having extra meals. If you find waiting until restaurants are ready to provide meals is tedious - do like Paula does, and plan to have a snack. Doing this is perfectly okay.

Paula signs the member's booklet, even though member's numbers are a bit behind and I can't give her hers - other than saying that it is 'over 250.'

Beijing, of course, becomes the club's 'City of the Week,' and not just because Paula is the only memberphoto: wrapping silver in napkins present - which she is - but partly because of Beijing's recent capture of the 2008 summer Olympics. Paris is sad, but Beijing won.

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