The First Day of Fall That Was

photo: cafe le saint amour

Friday's afternoon - in Summer 2001's last hours -
was a late, and surprise, bonus.

Coming Euro Causes 'No Change' Now

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 24. September 2001:- Saturday was an unusual day, in addition to being the first day of fall, because overnight the weather switched from being near winter-like to being a perfect 'first day of fall' which caught Parisians by complete surprise.

While the sun shone on the city the only missing ingredient was a couple of extra degrees of temperature, which was especially noticeable in my own courtyard - which is shielded from the sun by its vertical east, south and west sides. If it were located south of the equator, there could be an improvement of 25 percent in it.

While I try to look on the bright side of my courtyard - although it has none - by noting its function as a natural air-conditioning device, I find it hard to remember how well it works in times when Paris' climate needs the opposite of air-conditioning.

But enough boring moaning. The ultra-shortrange forecast calls for continued sunny periods, with gradually rising temperatures. Who knows? Heading for 19, they may reach 20 by next weekend even though the latest forecast is only good until Thursday.

'Café Life'

'No Change'

Except for the few money-exchange places, this is a sign you see all over Paris these days. I picked an off-time to get two items in my local 'Monoprix' this afternoon, and I may as well have chosen the week's big shopping-hour on Saturday.

The long lines at the check-outs didn't mean there were a lot of shoppers - they meant all of thephoto: student book sales, pl st michel cashiers were having a hard time making change for 50-franc notes. "I'm sorry, but has anybody got a two-franc piece?" one implored to about a dozen people, each with three items totalling no more than 19.50.

Gathered at the Place Saint-Michel on Saturday, students try to sell obsolete text books - for francs no less.

The most annoying was the guy behind me who, in addition to drinking his to-be-paid-for solo can of beer while waiting, mumbled a non-stop monologue concerning Monoprix's sloppy attitude towards big spenders.

This is called, to be polite about it, a part of the reality of the 'count-down' to the euro. Franc coins are getting more and more rare, and many cashiers are now accepting plastic and cheques without bothering with minimums.

Besides the daily wear-and-tear on consumers, somebody is going to slapped with the banking charges on these mini-transactions because the banks are too greedy to 'eat' them themselves. The euro is going to cost consumers a mint.

Meanwhile, my wait came to an end, and I heard the guy behind me say he had 'exact' change. But I think he also had an empty can of beer, and was probably facing starting all over again.

Dimitri Comes Back To Earth

Since about the middle of August Dimitri has been up in the air at one of France's ministry buildings in Paris, laying a bit of gilding on several ceilings' worth of decor about six metres above the floor.

Normally he does the same thing in his atelier, which is located four sets of walk-up stairs above the earth, but once at this peak he can arrange the frames to be gilded on the floor if he wants to.

The other night while dining at Auntie Line's, Dimitri exchanged gilding stories with the painter Raymond Canta - who got his start in the racket in Switzerland where he did the interiors of bank vaults.

This is fine for Switzerland, which is not a republic as far as I know. Gilder's jokes, by the way, are often about how the ultra-light sheets of gold can act like butterflies in a draft, and float out of open windows.

I hope no French taxpayers are reading this, and since I'm one of them, I don't know what the point of this is supposed to be.

I guess what it all really means is - even Socialist-governed republics can afford gilt ceilings and 35-hourphoto: no 'no car day,' 22 sept work weeks, just so long as the public never gets the feeling they are going to get ripped off by all the 'round-ups' that the introduction of the euro will cause.

The Boulevard Saint-Germain version of no 'no car day' in Paris on Saturday.

On the plus side, the euro will not be based on the value of gold. This is a good thing because it is obviously cheap enough to be plastered on ceilings with wild abandon - and Dimitri isn't squawking too much about having to wait four or six weeks to get paid for doing it - in francs.

If you think this is all silly, it is no worse than French conversation at Auntie Line's. Trying to follow it was like riding a verbal roller-coaster on a tilted pin-ball layout.

The Late-Summer Season That Wasn't

Before the summer holidays begin, Parisians and the French in general get together to hold various sorts of public parties in anticipation of being 'on holiday' for a couple of months.

About 12 weeks later - in France there are a lot of over-laps - the Parisians and the French get together again to celebrate their successful summers, and get in the mood for the other season, called 'normal working life' - which only lasts about six weeks before the first school holidays begin.

Anyway, because of the municipal elections last spring and other unforeseen events, nearly all of Paris' 'return-to-work' fêtes were canceled. For this I offer my apologies to all three readers of the mostly-weekly 'Scene' column - which was over-full of these 'events' that did not happen.

As likely as not, when the next readers write to ask what will be happening in Paris next September, I will refer them to this year's 'Scene' columns, but warn that their contents are only 'best-laid-plans,' and what will happen will actually be much better.

For example, the 'first day of fall' was not even scheduled as an event in this year's 'Scene' column. Yet it happened with sunshine without warning on Saturday, 22. September. As far as I could tell, it was much enjoyed by Parisians who were at liberty on account of the canceled 'events.'

The canceled 'no car day' was a huge success with motorists, who took advantage of it in record numbers to completely clog the Boulevard Saint-Michel on Saturday afternoon.

They all seemed to be headed toward the even more clogged Boulevard de Sébastopol, but for all I know some of them probably joined the traffic chaos in the Rue de Rivoli, as a foretaste of a totally plugged Champs-Elysées.

Big Metropole Photos

Metropole's large-size photos, even if they are not new ones, are on show every week - with this link to the latest new photos on last week's photo / image page. This is not to say these photos were 'super,' it is just to say there were two new ones.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

The club's meeting last Thursday's had its usual number of unusual 'firsts.' One of these was having no 'City of the Week' despite the large number of members present. Regarding 'what to drink' during club meetings, one quote is worth repeating and it was, "Why is café served in consommé tureens?"

Keep yourself up-to-date on the important subject of other highly interesting 'quotes' by reading this meeting's modest 'report,' which shouldn't take more than five minutes, more or less.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 27. September. Thisphoto: fiat 500 of the week day will be another absolutely ordinary day even though it will be a club day on which Saint-Vincent-de-Paul's Day will be fêted in Paris this year - again.

As long as we're going to have no 'no car days,' we should have them with the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

Metropole readers and those wishing to become club members can learn a tiny bit more about this free club by reading 'About the Club,' which is handy for finding out how to join it, its meeting time and location and so on, and other true facts such as being free.

Café Metropole Club Anniversary - The club's meeting numbers are a bit skewed and will probably remain this way, but the very first meeting was held on Thursday, 14. October 1999. This year the 14th is on a Sunday, so I suggest that the club's 2nd anniversary be celebrated during the meeting on the Thursday before, on 11. October. The meeting on the following Thursday, 19. October, should be a calm one even though will be the first in the club's third year of existence.

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. Or, if all the other hotel booking services are 'sold out,' try this one. Other Metropole readers have.

'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 'Things Happen.'

'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, nearly anytime.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.39 - 25. Sept 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'A 'No Siesta' Week' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'Ho-Hum Vote Wins.' This issue had one feature, titled 'On a Day In the Rue Campagne Première.' This issue's update for Café Metropole Club's weekly meeting on 28. September became the 'The 'Crowd of the Week' Report. The week's 'Scene' column wasphoto: sign, pelouse autorisee titled ''Méditerranée' at the Grand Palais.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Heads or Tails?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 4.39 - 27. Sept. 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Ho-Hum 'Car-Free' Day.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'War On the Seine.' This issue had three features, titled, 'The 'Bonne Bouffe' To Go,' 'Napoleon's Greek Madeleine' and 'Skimming the Fleas.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'The Fun and Games Season' and there was an additional column titled, '2000 In Paris - Less Than 100 Days Away.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the maladroit caption of 'Left-Handed Screwdriver.'

The 'Count-Up/Down' - Version 39.1

As an exception to last week's note here, the 'exception' continues this week because there is no new 'count-down' news here mainly because there is no current 'count-down' being counted up or down except for the 'euro.'

The Other Exception

The number of days remaining this year is 98. This is also the number of days remaining until the 'euro' currency introduction day on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01. Starting very early on this day, you can begin to sort out Europe's new coins and banknotes - and spend them, of course.

'Euromania' is in the air here. Even if most civilian citizens are giving it a big ho-hum, localphoto: sign, defense d'afficher media are trying to drum up hysteria as an excuse to sell papers and TV-spot time. This frenzied industry should cease after 1. January, of course, because by then we will actually have some of the new stuff.

But in order to make the change-over as painful as possible, we are already being told which taxes will be 'rounded-up or down,' and so far the 'ups' have won, which suits the tax collectors perfectly - although they have already agreed it will not be called 'inflation' - officially.

Learn more about the new European-style money by taking a look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for whatever it has to say about the arrival of the euro just slightly more than three months from now.

This site probably has images of the actual coins and notes because they were publicly displayed by the European Central Bank recently.
signature, regards, ric

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