Tour Eiffel Plans Basement

photo: la rotonde, montparnasse, 15 august

Since the passenger liners from New York ceased their large numbers in 1927, Montparnasse is a lot quieter in August.

Random Summer Headlines

Paris:- Monday, 20. August 2001:- I don't feel like reading last week's papers today, so I hope you will be content with headlines. If these aren't enough, the remainder of this week's column contains the overflow of 'Café Life' from the Café Metropole page. All of the 'headlines' are from last week's Le Parisien.

Random Summer Headlines

Tour Eiffel Plans Basement - Thursday, 16. August:- Reaching 324 metres above the Seine, the Tour Eiffel's operators are thinking about adding five more floors - all underground.

This conclusion has been reached after 'underground polling' to find out how many extra floors might be desirable, and despite the 10,000 tons of iron sitting on top of them.

Metropole reader Jim Auman alsophoto: cafe peniche, near pont neuf caught this story and sent it in. The tower's operators got the idea - slowly - from the Louvre's successful below-surface entry, but the tower's plans call for a space 25 times bigger.

Peniche-cafés in the Seine are another place not to read the papers.

The problem is not with the Paris monument's daily 30,000 visitors, but with the fact that they visit the tower for an hour and then buzz off - because there's nothing else near it.

The new basement plans call for boutiques, a congress centre, a 3-D cinema - as well as lots of room for tower access, plus a glass dome so those in line can see the tower from underground.

The decision rests with the Hôtel de Ville, and requires the agreement of the Councilors of the 7th arrondissement. The work would cost a lot and take about three years to accomplish. Left unsolved is the question of a parking lot.

Nobody is asking me but I think it is a ploy designed to avoid having to re-string the tower with permanent twinkly lights - an idea that also scored well in Le Parisien's informal polls.

Camping Triumphant - Tuesday, 14. August:- On a slow news day nine million 'campers' make the paper's front page, and six million of them are French. This begins a five-part series about 'Everything You Wanted To Know About Camping.' I asked Dimitri, and he said he is still pitching his pup-tent in farmer's fields - while the rest of the world has moved up to four and five stars, to spend their holidays in tin-sided 'mobile homes,' a brand-new phrase in France.

Who Is Flying This Plane? - Tuesday, 14. August:- On the same slow news day, which happens every year in France at about the same time, the paper wants to know who is running the store with the country's Président, Prime-Minister, Cabinet, Senators and all Deputies gone on holidays. The answer - a few unlucky people who lost a coin-toss.

Maxi - Two Hours Underground - Thursday, 16. August:- In June, a young lady entered the métro about 13:30 one day and when she left it around 20:00 she ran into RATP controllers, who slapped her with a fine of 170 francs for excessive time underground. Itphoto: asleep in august seems there's a limit of two hours on one ticket. What was the young lady doing? She was researching life in the métro for a comedy-theatre piece. One bit of free advice - taking your dog requires a half-price ticket too.

There! In the shadow - some fellow in his own private public park.

Overtime Update - In case the young lady doesn't pay the 170 franc fine by next Friday, the amount of it will rise to 1200 francs. The RATP has already agreed to forego its 'legal expenses' in 'good faith,' but it is not going to back down, especially not under 'media pressure.' All the same, the spokesman said, the RATP doesn't think it impossible to reconsider the length of the two-hour time maximum underground.

For readers unfamiliar with the Paris métro, its operator often presents or co-produces popular entertainments in its underground stations - thus perhaps inadvertently causing passengers to exceed the two-hours-on- one-ticket limit.

France Lacks Cooks - Thursday, 16. August:- Especially this summer, holiday eating establishments can't get enough cooks, lacking an estimated 30,000. Some restaurant operators are doing their recruiting at eastern Europe's hotel schools.

Mont Blanc Is Black With People - Thursday, 16. August:- On good days the mountain attracts up to 300 hikers and climbers. As big as it is, there isn't enough room for everybody. On bad days, everybody sits around waiting for it to get good.

Café Life - Continued

The Musée Albert-Kahn

This museum is the home of the 'Archives de la Planète' and is currently displaying an exhibition of photos of Peking, taken by the chauffeur of the museum's founder in 1909, and more photos taken after the revolution in 1911, by Stéphane Passet.

Some of the photos are in 3-D and glasses for these are offered along with the entry ticket. I can't 'see' 3-D with or without glasses, so these looked like black and white photos with offset colors of red and cyan to me.

The financier Albert Kahn foresaw that certain aspects of the world were going to disappear foreverphoto: cafe bistro, felicie, open in august - in 1906! - and the 'Archives de la Planète' came into being in 1909. Albert Kahn financed expeditions to record the world as it was, but this ended with the financial collapse of 1929.

Open in August! Dimitri's summer bistro discovery of the year - in the Avenue du Maine.

The Department of the Seine took over the 'Archives de la Planète,' the museum and the museum's garden in 1936, but the universal questions raised by its founder are still with us.

Beyond the temporary exhibits there is the large garden which is rich with diversity, both oriental and western - and with its winter garden containing a tea room it is a year-round attraction. It is worth the trip.

The Musée Albert-Kahn, 14. Rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt. Except Mondays, open daily from 11:00 to 18:00 or 19:00 - with an annual closure in winter. Métro: Boulogne-Pont de Saint-Cloud. InfoTel.: 01 46 04 52 80.

Musée des Années 30

After leaving the Musée Albert-Kahn it is not an exceptionally long walk to the Hôtel de Ville of Boulogne and the Espace Landowski is right beside it. This new building houses the roomy Musée des Années 30.

Many of its items on display were influenced by the 'années 20,' so you kind of get two museums in one, and they both contain a wide selection of art and objects from this double-decade.

Quite a lot of 'modern' architecture is also present in Boulogne, and the museum has a brochure containing a map marking all 27 interesting sites - with more than half of them concentrated in Boulogne's northeast corner.

But if you skip this all-day undertaking, then the métro line 9 station Marcel-Sembat can be either a starting or a finishing point. Boulogne-Billancourt is not completely 'out' of Paris, in other words.

Musée des Années 30, Espace Landowski, 28. Avenue André Morizet, Boulogne. Except Mondays, open daily from 11:00 to 18:00. InfoTel.: 01 55 18 46 42.

'Un Art Populaire'

This is the name of the current exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in the Boulevard Raspail. This is the sort of show I can go to without pain because it is only ten minutes' walk away, and it opens at noon, which is when I happened to arrive and be awake.

I think 'art populaire' means art that has been assembled from pieces of junk, or anything lying around, and put together with a great deal of thought and care - or, at least, everything in this exhibition seemed this way.

This amounted to 130 mostlyphoto: maison in auvers interesting pieces made by 37 artists, on five different continents. One characteristic in common - most of the pieces involved a great deal of hand-work - which meant there was a lot of detail to take in.

A house in Auvers-sur-Oise - perhaps never painted by Van Gogh.

For example, how long is one supposed to look at about 30 small cuckoo clocks, none of which appear to be entirely normal and none of which are ticking at the same time? You could spend days with this assembly by Robert Stadler.

The Fondation Cartier is at 261. Boulevard Raspail, Paris 14. Métro: Raspail of Denfert-Rochereau. Except Mondays, open from 12:00 to 20:00. 'Un Art Populaire' exhibition continues until 4. November.

Internet Life

'Personal Computer' Anniversary

This term was coined by IBM when it introduced its 'PC' to the world on 12. August 1981. Commodores, Ataris and Apple IIs that had existed before this date were simply called computers by the few people who personally owned them.

Although I am not absolutely sure about this, I think the then unknown firm of Microsoft supplied the first 'PCs' with an operating system and it was known for a long time as 'DOS.'

It still is, so everybody who has wrestled with it and its successors - and their viruses - can thank IBM for making Mr. William Gates the richest man on the planet, and thank Apple for helping Mr. Gates develop the 'Windows' look, if not its feel.

Your Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankYou' here.

I have not overlooked the URLs I've received as recently as several weeks ago, and I have even checked some of them out. The 'thankYous' are being readied. Very slowly.

The End of August

As mentioned elsewhere in the issue, the weather has turned out some surprisingly good days in spite of pessimistic forecasts. Let's hope this keeps up.

As an encouragement for trying harder, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts.

Météo-France has also begun its 'Vigilance-Météo' service. This consists of putting out special warning about coming hurricane-speed winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, tornados, blizzards and/or avalanches within the next few hours - especially in the wine growing regions.

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