The Weather, Coluche and the Euro

photo: cafe le match, rue reaumur

In Paris, night now starts about siesta time.

With the 'Club' In the Middle

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 17. December 2001:- It is not only darn cold here but there is a really sneaky wind blowing around, making it feel like it is a lot worse than the zero it is - although Le Parisien says it is one or two degrees above.

On top of it - yes, it is 'on top' - there is a clear ice-blue sky, so if the wind doesn't make your eyes dribble, then you really have to squint to see anything - and this can make your eyes dribble too.

But this is not so bad. The sun doesn't rise above the horizon much before 8:40 and it disappears before 17:00. Within the next few days the first time will get a bit later and the second a bitphoto: logo resto du coeur earlier - until 'Hiver' day arrives next Thursday, which all should remember is much more night-like than daylight.

In other parts of France the weather is quite extreme, with highs maybe as high as 10 degrees on Corsica, if it isn't having the 'snowfall of the century,' which it had for a while last week. The 'lows' might be around -5 if you are far from Paris, but mainly sunny skies are predicted until Friday, when eastern France will become a crummy- weather zone.

'Café Life'

'Restos du Coeur'

This was the name given to an idea in 1985, by the comedian Coluche, to feed the hungary in food-surplus France. It continues every year with two purposes - putting basic food packages together, and providing hot meals to those without cooking facilities, usually because they are homeless.

The homeless in France are estimated to be as being 0.5 percent of the population, which is the equivalent of 300,000 real children, women and men. Last year in Paris, the 'Restos du Coeur' fed 20,000 people 1,447,000 meals over a period of four months.

Individual volunteers, associations andphoto: 2cv club 92, collection clubs collect the food and deliver it to warehouses, where it is repackaged and shipped to distribution centres. Another army of volunteers either hand it out or dish it out.

Club members checking donations for excess spaghetti - which they return to the supermarket for something more appropriate.

Last week Dimitri told me his '2CV Club 92' in Antony would be doing a 'collection' outside a supermarket near the RER 'B' station of Fountaine-Michelon, which is in Antony even if it is just over the border in 'zone 4.'

So on Saturday, he got up while it was still good and dark and about minus-four, while I warmly waited for daylight before taking a fairly short RER ride out to a 'zone.'

Beside a 'cité' of a high-rise housing complex, the '2CV Club 92' had a mid-sized Franprix supermarket surrounded with about four 2CVs. The club members handed out 'Les 2CV du Coeur' shopping lists. These were necessary because most citizens think hungry people want spaghetti and pasta, and experience has shown that these can be too much of a good thing.

While I was there, most shoppers coming out of the supermarket donated something to the 'collection' while club members clapped their hands together or hopped up and down to keep warm.

They expected to stay all day - about 12 hours in all, except for a two-hour break for a hot lunch in a café. All of this was plain enough to see in about six minutes, so I didn't wait around to see a 2CV loaded with 500 kilos of tinned ham and 'petits pois' lurching off to a collection warehouse.

Around France, the 'Restos du Coeur' have about 2000 distribution centres. Their main campaign is concentrated during the winter months from December to March, but a lesser level of activity is maintained throughout the year.

'Restos du Coeur' is a non-profit association, initiated by the late comedian Coluche, who said, "When I was little, the hardest times were always the end of the month. Especially the last 30 days."

The economic 'poverty level' of income per month in France is currently about 3650 francsphoto: 2cv club 92, franprix for a single person. This is roughly half of the minimum wage. Residents of France living at or below the 'poverty level' number about five million, or nine percent of the population.

Actually, only one 2CV was necessary. The other three were back-up spares.

At the beginning of 2000, under the 'administrative' definitions of poverty, the numbers were slightly higher - at a half-million persons more, or roughly 10 percent of the population.

Although 'misery is not fatal,' it is worth remembering that it exists in 'douce France' - fairly close to luxo 'Capons' and ultra-fancy designer threads. It is also worth remembering that there is a small army of volunteers who give their time and energy to associations like the 'Restos du Coeur.'

Paris' Christmas, Winter Sales 2002

All of Paris' 'grands magazins' will be open next Sunday on 23. December for plain but frenzied Christmas shopping. Many other stores in Paris will be open on this Sunday too.

If you choose to skip the pre-Christmas season, the 'Winter Sales' mayhem begins on Wednesday, 9. January and continues until Saturday, 16. February, when regular-price 'Spring Shopping' is supposed to begin - but usually doesn't because everybody is broke.

Try and buy as much as you can as soon as you can so 'Spring Shopping' can start earlier. The sooner these sales can be gotten out the way, the sooner the 'Summer Sales' can start unloading the 'spring' stuff.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Readers can catch up with last week's club subjects by reading the meeting's report concerning the nearly historic Moyer-Moyer 'Meet of the Week.'

While you are thinking over the sheer thrill of this, the coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 20. December - because it is a Thursday again - and it will be at the Café-Tabac La Corona.

I have also been assured that Patrick, the club's popular 'Waiter of the Week,' is eager to servephoto: passage verdeau club members again. He will be making sure that there is enough onion soup for all, so don't let him down.

The coming Thursday will be just another fairly ordinary Thursday-type day called Saint-Abraham, which is not any kind of known holiday in France.

Paris' passages are the places to find really unusual gift ideas, often at reasonable prices.

The following day will not be an ordinary Friday, because it is called 'Hiver' and it will be the shortest day of the year. If short Fridays are a favorite of yours, make the most of what there is of it - even though the following and final one this year will be slightly longer.

Metropole readers and those wishing to become club members can learn all about this free club by glancing at the 'About the Club' page, again. It explains how to join, 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 café La Corona, which has been splendidly renovated.

Details For the Meeting In New York On 27. December

After the club's secretary wraps up the coming meeting in the Café La Corona next Thursday on 20. December, he is going to fly from Paris across the very wide Atlantic Ocean to New York City.

On the following Thursday, 27. December, one of the club's two meetings of the day will be held at the Rue des Crêpes café in New York City. This club meeting begins at 5 pm, or 17:00. Here is the exact address:

Rue des Crêpes, 104 - 8th Avenue, Manhattan, New York City 10011. This location is between 15th and 16th Streets on the east side of 8th Avenue. InfoTel.: 212 242 99 00.

New York's street and public transport system is more elaborate than Paris,' so read the following and pay some attention to detail if you don't want to end up on Staten Island because there are more than three access possibilities.

First with the 'E' train - to the 14th Street station, at 14th Street and 8th Avenue, with another exit at the corner of 8th Avenue and 16th. Second, with the 'F' train - at its 14th Street station, at 14th Street and 6th Avenue, with another exit at the corner of 6th Avenue and 16th Street, with a two-block walk westphoto: cafe au rocher de cancale to 8th Avenue. And finally there's the No 1 train - at its 18th Street station, at 18th Street and 7th Avenue. This will involve a one-block walk west to 8th Avenue and then over to 15th Street.

If you find yourself walking around Manhattan soon, you may want to remember this café in the Rue Montorgeuil - to pass the time.

Club member Jim Auman has also written - from New Jersey! - the following, "There is a fourth possibility of getting to the club meeting - walking. Since we are 'enterré dans les banlieues,' the best and easiest way for us to go to New York is by train.

"It takes us to the Penn Station/Madison Square Garden complex on 34th Street. This thing is so big that it sprawls across several avenues. We'll look for the 8th Avenue exit and head south. As reference for metrically-minded Europeans - 20 blocks, going north-south, equals one mile. I don't know what the reference for the avenues is because they are unevenly spaced, like in Paris where everything is unequal."

Well, this is certainly a big help. Finally, finally, for those who would rather take a bus than walk, the lines to take are the 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7, as well as the 14, especially if you like 14th Street a lot. According to the club's map, the bus lines are so thick that there's no space to even show the avenues.

For other club members who are not New Yorkers, Jim adds, "Also keep in mind that Manhattan is divided into the East Side and the West Side, with 5th Avenue being the boundary. An address of 201 East 15th Street means that it is East of 5th Avenue, while 201 West 15th Street means that it is West of 5th Avenue."

In Paris the Club Meets On 27. December - Nearly As Usual

This will happen because the server-lady, Linda Thalman, has graciously agreed to host this meeting, so it will be held at the regular time in the regular café, La Corona.

This means that your Café Metropole Club will be having meetings in both Paris and New York on the same day. The Paris meeting will be at least six hours ahead of New York's, so Linda will forward the names of members for inclusion in the meeting(s) 'report.'

In Paris your club's meeting time will begin at 15:00 and cruise along to 17:00 in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'OPOT' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm in zones without 'Euro-type' 24-hour time.

Do not miss out on this historic chance to become a 'real' member of the Café Metropole Club during its first transatlantic dual meeting(s). While you are at it, don't forget to tell all your friends about this major real 'first,' exclusively provided by your 'virtual' online magazine about Paris.

Now For the Rotten News

Two out of seven of the world's major human rights organizations have stated quite clearly that the Café Metropole Club is allowed to not have a meeting anywhere in the world on Thursday, 3. January 2002. The first meeting in the new year will be one week later, and it will be held in Paris.

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This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.51 - 18. Dec 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was expansively titled, 'Bigger Than My Head.' The 'Au Bistro' news column was missing. Instead this issue had two features, titled 'Paris' 'Little Belt' Tram Line' and 'Réveillon' - Midnight Supper' This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 14. December was called the 'Adrian Leeds' Report.' The following week's club update on 21. December posed what is turning out to be an eternal question - "What Happened To Roissy's Rabbits?" The week's 'Scene' column was canned too. But there was an email from Eva Lee about the The Conspiracy of Flop.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Watching Out for Speedbumps.'

This Was Metropole One Year Ago + One Week:

Issue 5.52 - 25. Dec 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Minuscule Holiday Issue' - so, ha ha - there was no 'Au Bistro' column, again! This issue had no features, but did have two 'Scene' columns, titled 'Better Late Than Nothing' and 'New Years 2001.' This issue's miraculous update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 28. December was, quote, "Look forphoto: sign, rue d'argout Our Photos!" There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Metropole's Greeting Card.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 4.51 - 20. December 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Christmas Gaga In Paris.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled ' Champs-Elysées Changes Suits.' This issue had a story by Jerry Stopher, titled 'One Man's Gas Cap Is Another's.' The Café Metropole Club began to have 'Things of the Week,' beginning with 'Food Events' Increase At Club.' This was followed up by the club's 11th 'report,' which turned out to be 'Record New 'Charter' Member Day.' There were three 'Scene' columns, titled, 'Overwhelmed by Events?' and 'Come One, Come All, Christmas '99' and, incredibly, '2000 In Paris and France.' Oh yeah, that '2000' thing. The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the annual caption of 'Season's Greetings.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago + One Week:

Issue 4.52 - 27. December 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Christmas Storm Where We Are.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Updates - Storm, Oil Spill - Friday, 31. December' and the regular version was 'Severe Storm Bats Paris.' This issue didn't have a feature but had four pages of emails instead. They were 'from Linda and Cindy,' 'from Meredith and Walt, Carolyn, and Craig,' 'from Toni, Markus and Paul' and 'from John and Philip.' The Café Metropole Club continued to have 'Things of the Week,' with 'Our Club's Man of 2000.' This was followed up by the club's 12th 'report,' which happened to be the 'Last of the Century,' which was a true 'first.' Even one Scene' column got in somehow, titled as 'New Year 2000 Yipee!' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the once-in-a-millennium caption of '2000! Surreal!'

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

There are only 14 days remaining in this year. This means there is nearly no time remainingphoto: boite a musique until the 'euro 3 signuro' currency introduction day on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01.

There are other issues involving the 'euro' and these are included in this issue on a grab-bag page called 'Au Bistro,' mainly because I couldn't be bothered to think up a better name for it after using it for so long.

But if you wish to learn even more about the new European-style money, take a look at the French government's official 'Euro' Web site for whatever it has to say about the arrival of the 'euro 3 signuro' slightly less than nearly no time from now.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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