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.

An Email From Bus 38

Lately I have been a bit more disorganized than I used to be. For a long time now I have been going to the Thursday club meetings on the métro, instead of walking to them - very occasionally - or taking the number 38 bus, which I can catch at the end of my street for a ride to Châtelet.

Last week I received an email from Laurent, number 38 bus driver, saxophone player, and the webmaster of Bus 38 Online - on behalf of the whole line 38 crew.

Readers with long memories may recall that Bus 38 having an online presence was noted in the 'Au Bistro' column last September, but it is worth rementioning because it is still a effort maintained by the drivers themselves rather than the RATP, and they are doing a good job with it, and their buses.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

To catch up on exciting news about last Thursday's club meeting - which you should remember was World Sleep Day - read the club's first "Heads or Tails?" report.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 28. March. I know itphoto: cafe tabac pereire is boring to have all club meetings on Thursdays, but at least the saints names change, and next Thursday's is Saint-Gontran's day. He has not been around since 592.

The Thursday after belongs to the somewhat mysterious Saint-Isadore, who may just be a plain 'Sainte.'

One of Paris' many 'rest' stations, ususally called cafés.

Readers with an unquenchable urge to become real club members can easily grasp the few details about this free club by carefully reading the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page.

How to join? Simply by being here! Being here on a Thursday with a saint's name is better. How to keep up with club 'news' is even easier, because the reports about it go online right after the meetings - except for when the secretary is goofing off in New York.

Club Member Makes Good In the Sun

Adding another club member to the 'famous' list is something I don't mind doing because Heather Stimmler-Hall was one of the first to show up at the Corona, and it is not her fault she has to live on the Riviera.

Instead of whining and complaining about it, she is doing something, like writing articles about the ins and outs in 'PACA' for United's inflight magazine, which might be called Hemispheres.

If you do try it, click on 'Three Perfect Days,' to find out about how to survive in places like Cannes, Nice, and other places in that part France with all the palm trees and high prices.

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 extended their reservation service for a wide selection of Paris hotels. Check out their wider offers and make your choice long before your arrival in France. Try this one. Other Metropole readers have.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' for Paris as well as travelphoto: j f batellier, cartoonist insurance. If you have 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.'

Meet Jean-François in this week's report about the Salon du Livre.

'Petanque America' exports 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. Everybody can play this game, nearly anywhere - such as on any vacant lot covered with suitable dirt.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.13 - 26. March 2001 - This issue started with the week's Café Metropole column, titled, 'Ed's Little Tours' - and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'New Paris Mayor, Bertrand Delanoë.' This issue had one feature titled 'Spring' In Blois?' The issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 29. March was called the "Could be Worse, Could be Green" Report' The week's 'Scene' column was titled 'Spring Events Begin.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'The Weather'sphoto: sign, boulevard berthier, 17th Fault?' One of the first photo pages was titled, 'Looking for Spring.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.13 - 27. March 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Winter Takes a Spring Break.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Multi-Demos In the City.' This issue had one feature, titled 'A Kind Of 'Grand Tour.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 30. March, was called 'New Members! New Members!' A club page announced, ''No News' Is Not 'Good' News.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were viewable too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week featured 'The Grand Tour Taxi.'

This Year's Flagging 'Count-Count'

There are only 281 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 84 days now and people in Paris are getting pretty casual about it - but nobody minds if you count your change, no matter how slowly.

If you still feel like 'counting-down,' we have Alexandre Dumas' birthdate to consider. Alexandre Dumas - père - was born on Saturday, 24. July 1802 at Villers-Cotterets andphoto: sign, rue d'heliopolis he wrote the 'Trois Moustaches,' which is still second behind the Bible in sales. From today, Dumas' birthdate is 148 days off.

For another date, the first round of voting for France's next Président is only 27 days from now. The campaign is up to full steam. The two leading candidates have quit being cagey and are slugging it around the country on TV and in person.

Plug in your clocks, turn over your egg-timers half-full of sand, tune your video-recorders, get a red marker to 'X'-out days on your calendars, and start counting-down, especially if it is until the time you arrive in Paris.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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