A Lost Parade

photo: cafe la st germain, rue du bac

Just before sundown near the beginning of the Rue du Bac.

150 Horses - 'Not Found'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 3. December 2001:- The weather for the coming week is expected to continue being damp and completely overcast, but not excessively cold. It is very typical weather for November, and it is in no way unusual for December either.

Today's Le Parisien says that it is 'classic' and I agree with this. The drink for it is mulled wine - 'vin chaud' - and if it has rum in it, it will do no lasting harm.

Both last night's TV-weather news forecast and today's paper have a prediction of fairly bright weather for next Friday, with high temperatures of about 49 or 50 degrees, which will be 10 C in Paris. This will be down two degrees from highs on Tuesday to Thursday.

The leaves on trees have finally given up their overlong grasps to their branches, although they are not coming down all at once. By the time the sun peeps out again, some colorful ones that I spotted last week will probably have quit waiting to be photographed.

'Café Life'

Just One Horse, Just One

I am fond of horses that belong to other people and live on other people's turf, but the scheduled 'Lutèce à Cheval' parade of horses through Paris yesterday was something I didn't want to miss - without the intention of making it into a big feature.

So, all I had to do was know the parade's start time and its route, and set myself up somewhere to meet it head-on. While horses are early risers, I am not - so my rendez-vous calculations were based on where the parade might be on its way, back from Bastille.

The purpose of doing this was to get exactly one photo to run here, instead of the usual 'Fiat 500 of the Week,' whichphoto: pont royal, no horses, one marathoner is a popular feature but one that doesn't need to be here every week because most Fiat 500s look pretty much alike. A shot of 150 horses in downtown Paris would be much better.

Seeing one marathoner did not lift my spirits when I had set out to find 150 horses on Sunday.

My plan was simple - figure out where the parade had yet to arrive and be there to get the photo, then return to the 'ed's' office to try and catch up the 3000 words I was behind.

At Saint-Germain-des Prés there was no sight of any horses on the boulevard, or past it, up the Rue de Rennes. Logic told me the parade must be still coming - in the Rue des Saints-Pères, on the Quai Voltaire, or coming across the Pont du Carrousel.

On the right bank side of the bridge, facing the Louvre's Carrousel exit, I was really hoping to seephoto: horse butcher sign the parade winding around the roundy thing in there. From the middle of the bridge, the background of the Louvre would be impressive.

But was I at the right place, the right bridge? At the next bridge to the west, the Pont Royal, I could see some viper-green and white city sanitation trucks. Horses would need sanitation trucks, wouldn't they?

My only horse-sighting on Sunday.

At the Pont Royal, where there was a very small crowd of a dozen and a half, plus a thumping and rattling African drum band on the bridge, I quickly saw that there is no way for horses to get through from the Rue de Rivoli.

What was happening, it was the eastern edge of the mini-marathon - of 5200 runners - coming along the Quai des Tuileries, crossing the Pont Royal, and heading back west on the Quai Antatole France.

Somebody shouted at a passing lady runner, "Way to go! You're in fourth place!" This made me think marathoners don't get up early either.

On the Rue de Rivoli there was no sign of any approaching horses. I decided they must be well on their way back to the Porte de Versailles, so I jumped on the métro and headed down to the Boucicaut stop. I figured I could walk across to Lecourbe on Convention and catch the parade there.

I did this. But I also noticed that traffic was frenzied, even between Boucicaut and Lecourbe. Sure - because in addition to the horses at the Porte de Versailles, there's the 'Salon Nautique' and some wine expo, and a dog and cat show. The streets were like a zoo.

But they weren't like 150 horses had recently passed. At the Porte de Versailles, one of Paris' bigger Sunday traffic jams was happening. There didn't seem to be any place in it for any horses on the streets.

The result is, no photo. The result is - too many words. About something I didn't do. Didn't see.

The result is not writing about the two insane polls I got caught in, plus not writing about helping Dimitriphoto: 2nd marathoner, pont royal do his first invoice in 'euros.' Nor am I writing about how a hot dog is made in Paris, and how Dimitri eats one.

Seeing two marathoners did not lift my morale by 50 percent. I didn't wait for the other 5195 runners either.

Today's Le Parisien has a photo, shot yesterday morning - very early! - in the Rue de Rennes, showing the parade of horses and carriages coming down the street, heading towards Saint-Germain.

Judging from it, it was quite an impressive parade I missed. Since I have never tried to catch horses in Paris before, I better remember that they move faster than I think - and the streets get cleaned up afterwards in the wink of an eye, probably by a thorough Monsieur Clean.

No Bistro

No, this is not another aspect of 'Café Life.' This is my way of saying that I've run out of time again. I have no less than 27 items for the 'Au Bistro' column plus some more tidbits of 'Café Life' and I could just keeping plugging along to four or five in the morning. But I did this last week and never got caught up again.

So this is where 'Café Life' stops, and this is as far as this issue goes. There is a lot to do before getting on a jet to fly to New York - there's the Christmas and New Years parts that need adding over the next two issues. These cannot not get done.

Paris' Christmas, Winter Sales 2002

All of Paris' 'grands magazins' will be open on the Sundays of 8, 16 and 23. in December for plain Christmas shopping. All other stores in Paris will be open on these Sundays too.

But if you have to skip the pre-Christmas rush, the Winter Sales begin on Wednesday, 9. January 2002 and these will continue until Saturday, 16. February, when regular-price 'Spring Shopping' begins. Try and buy as much as you can as soon as you can so 'Spring Shopping' can start earlier.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Readers should catch up with last week's club subjects by reading the meeting's report concerning a "Lot of Gravity Here.."

Before you decide to stop reading now because you think you've read this before, I assure you last week's club meeting was the first to mention 'gravity' in any way, shape or form.

While you think it over, the coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 6. December - because it is a Thursday - but will probably not be at the café La Corona.

It will likely be held at Le Café Lodi. The following meeting on Thursday, 13. December may be held at La Corona if its renovations are complete.

Next Thursday will be just another fairly ordinary Thursday-type day called Saint-Nicolas, and not just because it is the first Thursday in December.

Metropole readers and those wishing to become club members can learn oodles more about this free club by lookingphoto: fiat 500 of the week at the 'About the Club' page which explains how to join it, its meeting time and so on, and other true facts such as being free. This page also contains a location map for the club's regular café, La Corona, which is in temporary suspension.

The day wasn't a total loss, with this terrific last-chance 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

Le Café Lodi is located at 24. Quai du Louvre. It is about 60 metres away from La Corona, towards the Pont Neuf, next to the pet shop.

See the map on the special club page in a recent issue or take a look a recent week's club 'report.' Both pages have changed map, showing the location of Le Café Lodi and La Corona.

The Café Metropole Club Meeting in New York

After the club's coming meeting in the Café La Corona on Thursday, 20. December, and after doing this meeting's club 'report,' the club's secretary is going to fly from Paris across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City.

The club meeting on Thursday, 27. December will be held someplace in New York City. Read more about this on the special 'Manhattan page' in this issue.

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 5.49 - 4. Dec 2000 - As a result of the last issue beginning with, 'Newsflash! - 'Ed' Falls On Knee!' - this week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'La Rue de la Vie Is Bumpy.' All other planned features were dropped in favor of some poor excuse titled, 'Mini-Issue - 2nd Week of 'Pratfall of the Week.' Even if it is belatedphoto: sign, rue du moulin de la vierge to thank all the folks who sent fruit baskets, boxes of chocolate, tangerines, get-well cards, and bills for power and gas, I thank you anyway.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 4.49 - 6. December 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Survive New Year 2000 With a Long Shampoo.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'The Song and Car of the Century.' This issue had two features, titled 'Getting Papered In Paris - Less Angst Than Usual' and 'The Big Café On the Avenue, Not On l'Ile.' The Café Metropole Club blurb page posed the trivial question, 'Is 'Flufflenutter' a Real Word?' and then was followed up by the club's 9th 'report,' which mixed geography with fooding, as in 'Glasgow and Hot Dogs.' There were two 'Scene' columns, titled, 'Word-of-Big-Mouth' and 'Christmas '99 and '2000,' again. The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the sappy caption of 'Be An Artist!'

The 'Count-Down' - Euro-day Minus Four Weeks

There are only 28 days remaining in this year. This means there is almost no time remaining until the 'euro 3 signuro' currency introduction day on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01.

In France, for the remainder of this year you can safely use whatever good money you have, after it has been changed into francs, which may be real ones. If real and new - or extra old - these notes and coins may become collector's items.

After midnight on Sunday, 17. February, the euro will be the sole currency in circulationphoto: evian water drop bottle, 2002 in France, and 11 other European countries. This allows for seven weeks for banks to soak up francs and for users to get used to dealing with euros.

After all old francs have disappeared, the euro will be all there is, forever. For you and for people living here, it will be like we are all visiting some country with foreign money.

Between the start of the year and 17. February, money in francs can be exchanged at any bank for euros. The exchange rate is fixed at 6.55957 francs for one 1euro 3 sign. After 17. February, old francs can be exchanged for new euros at any branch of the Banque de France.

After the beginning of the year, dollars can be exchanged for euros instead of francs. The rate of exchange will depend on the daily 'fixing' in New York. Users have found that withdrawing cash from ATMs gives a good exchange rate.

Between now and then, if you have some curious wish to learn more about the new European-style money, take a look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for whatever it has to say about the arrival of the euro slightly less than only one month from now.
signature, regards, ric

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