Taking a Powder

photo: cafe rendez vous, sunday

These people got no closer to strolling by the Seine
than Denfert.

And Shorting You On 'Au Bistro'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 25. March 2002:- For diehard fans of 'winter at Easter' in Paris, the weather has a disappointing outlook for you. At the end of last week the rain stopped, allowing the 14th arrondissement to have its first-ever carnival under blue skies on Saturday.

The freak of nature that permitted this has decided to rest in place. The forecast called for slightly cloudy today and tomorrow, and a little bit chilly. It is a bit chilly this morning, but there's no sign of the 'slightly cloudy.'

The rest of the week, including Easter Sunday, is seen as having one big sunball over all French territory - well, at least until Friday - and temperatures are supposed to rise to 15 or 16 C.

I am not forecasting this, you understand. I know full-well that there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, who expect their Easter weather here to be full of freezing rain or sleet, with temperatures in the low, simple-digits.

Paris' Easter fans expect this because it is frequently the case, and they count on it to give them excuses to hang around in restaurants all day long.

The good news is, of course, that if the forecast turns out to be correct, the hardy winter-Easter types will find that they can pass the whole weekend on café terraces - which is almost as good as being inside restaurants.photo: shaving brushes

Another bit of good news is that yesterday the city closed the right-bank riverside speedway, allowing residents and visitors to stroll and roll around at ease in the first Sunday of spring sunshine.

For those who shave, doing it the 'hard' way can be high-life with any of these brushes.

The Parisien's front-page photo this morning showed the speedway looking like a convention of marathoners standing around like sunflowers, seemingly too tightly packed to stroll or roll.

The Sunday speedway closure was the first one of the year, and marks the beginning of Paris' annual season of returning certain city streets to unmotorized users on Sundays. From mid-July to mid-August the city still plans to ban cars and trucks from the expressways by the Seine.

This was a bit mis-timed last year, and motorists were very upset about it. Enough so that they are still arguing against the people-friendly idea because they dream of carefree speeding in summer, when traffic should be less dense.

Aimless In New York

A week ago I mentioned here - again - that I'm going to New York again. If you want to know why, the reasonphoto: rotonde at monceau was explained here a couple of weeks ago. If you read it then you probably don't want to read it again this week, but I should, because I'm tending forget. Today has been kind of long.

No Café Metropole Club meeting is scheduled for New York during the time I will be there. This is just as well, because I think I will be working on Metropole's wine labels - or fighting with a PC to be able to.

The Rotonde at Monceau is, well, round.

If I lose this battle, I will have the Easter parade and the baseball season opener to fall back on. Neither of these will require me to learn how zillions of man-and-lady work-hours have been pulverized by PCs instead of being frivolously wasted at baseball games.

'Au Bistro' Blues

One more time I am going to blow off doing the 'Au Bistro' news column. Neither flesh nor brain is willing to plow through a week's worth of papers full of thrilling news from election campaign-crazed France.

Dubious statistics from the server suggest that Metropole's brand of 'news' from France is a popular feature. But to do it right, I am going to have to change my attitude about how it gets done. I think doing a little bit all the time will make a major difference around this time, which is usually midnight on Mondays.

Easter In Paris - the Club, More than Usual

Meanwhile in Paris, the jolly, green-thumbed and now rosy server-lady Linda Thalman has agreeably consented to host the Café Metropole Club meetings at the café La Corona on Thursday, 28 March and Thursday, 4. April.

She has done this because she rallyed through the 16th arrondissement for ten hours yesterday and got an honest pinkness out of it, as well as foot-burn.

Her notes from these meetings, no matter how sketchy, will be transformed into full 'reports' that may seem Transatlantic in nature. New members can expect to be properly inscribed into the members' booklet, even if the club secretary's presence is only spiritual.

The club may be 'more than usual' because Paris is not known for balmy weather at Easter. However there is a good chance of this not being the case next Thursday - and Linda may choose to hold the meeting on La Corona's terrace. If this happens, you can get pink too.

'Café Life'

The Best Baguette In Paris

It probably happens every year, but this year your eagle-eyed reporter accidently happened to read in a recent Le Parisien that the 'Grand Prix Baguette of the Year' has been awarded to the boulangerie of Raoul Maeder.

His father, who is now retired, won the same award in 2000, and according to a sign in the boulangerie's window, there was a third place award in 1999. The boulangerie is located in the 17th, at 158. Rue Berthier, which is close to the métro at Porte de Champerret.

The baguette in question has a brand-name, Rétrodor. Monsieur Maeder was quoted as sayingphoto: paris best baguette part of the secret of his baguette is the flour. This comes from the Viron flour mill near Chartres, which has been run by the same family for six generations.

This year's home of the best baguette in Paris.

At my local boulangerie, this 'Rétrodor' is a special 300-gram baguette - motto: 'like in the '30s' - and the boulangerie lady waved her hand in airy dismissal of her own 'ordinary' baguette, which is a bit cheaper, lighter, and altogether not the 'right stuff.'

The award amounts to prestige rather than any windfall, because one boulangerie can only make so many baguettes in a day. Le Parisien's piece hints that Mr. Maeder may get an order to supply the Président's table for a year - whoever he or she may turn out to be after the coming election.

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