Anything for a Photo

photo: fishing boat, seine

Sailing bravely towards the sea, which might be somewhere around Trocadéro...

The Non-Feature of the Week

Paris:- Sunday, 16. June 2002:- I am starting out this exclusive Metropole feature with the working title 'Notes' because I have none, and do not know what is coming next. Last week all of the photos for the issue got lost somewhere in the great digital garbage can in the sky, so this week - like every week - I need a bunch of new ones.

I started out to do these to go along with an article about the best places to get a suntan in Paris. The trouble was, the day I started, it wasn't sunny enough - which kind of made a flop of the whole idea - this week.

There are a great number of places, if the sun is shining, to get a suntan here. The city has been removing its 'pelouse - non!' signs, since a lot of people have been ignoring them anyway - and there are 426 gardens and parks, plus 20 cemeteries that offer aspects of the outdoors.

Add to these the state estates like the Tuileries and the Luxembourg gardens, and the suntan areas within Paris itself probably cover more open-sky surface area than parking lots, which don't have any unless they have rooftop parking, and none do.

So on Friday there I was going around to get shots of folks sunning themselves near the Seine, and therephoto: seine cruise quai wasn't enough sunlight to throw proper shadows. Instead, it was the first day of the three-day 'Paris Port de Pêche' exhibition. This was beside the Seine on the Quai Saint-Bernard because the fishing boats involved needed the proper atmosphere to float in.

Visiting commuters, waiting for the cruise of a lifetime.

Between the tents set up on the quay, with informative displays about the fishing industry, or with fish things for sale or to eat, plus a Café du Port with fishermen-type cocktails, there was a wired guy with a microphone walking around saying that the 'fleet' would set off - head downstream and do some 'fishing,' and return to auction off their 'catch.'

Paris is a fair way from the sea, so I decided not to wait until four in the morning to witness the peddling of fresh fish, 'by the shout.' And sure enough, about five of the smaller fishing boats set bravely off, towards the Ile de la Cité.

Meanwhile, a fisherman's band had its own tent and a very large amount of amplification - plus loud-type instruments - and these were bashing out traditional fisherman chanteys, of a modern sort. The actual words they were singing escape me now, as they did then. 'Loud' is what I distinctly remember.

When I thought I'd given everything its proper look-over, I decided to head west. There was a antique sale being held on the next quay - the Quai de la Tournelle - and overlooking this from the Pont de Sully, I was surprised to see the 'fishing fleet' bravely pushing its way upstream, freshphoto: didot jumble sale from the fishing grounds that I suspected could be no further off than the island called the Allée des Cygnes, between the 15th and 16th arrondissements.

It is the 'junk sale season,' so there is a lot of junk on sale around town these days.

Maybe it was being done in relays. Big boat from the deep sea to Rouen, transfer the fish there to a faster, smaller boat and race up to the Maison de la Radio, and transfer them again to the exhibition boats for the final dash to 'Paris Port.'

For my part, my feet became tired at Place Maubert and I let the métro take over. One little note here - while crossing in front of Notre Dame earlier, I discovered a new Paris Tourist Office kiosk - apparently about to open soon.

To tell the truth, it may have been hidden under the trees near the Hôtel Dieu for 273 years. Me not seeing it before is not unusual. I think there may be some more of these around too. If the one I saw intends to deal with everybody - zillions! - who comes to see Notre Dame, it is probably a bit undersized.

On Saturday the weather hadn't improved much, and what was really bad was the sad choice of this week's posters. Only 'Planète Futuroscope' excelled, with its 'chute de météorites' or 'look up at Saturn' posters. I can usually get a choice of six or eight posters every week, but I would have to do with some second choices on Sunday in a final, last chance, sweep.

But first, the 'unusual event of the week' of going to see Matthew Rose's 34 'Girlfriends.' Dennis and I arranged to meet in front of his place without arranging to actually be there at the same time. I was there, but with no door code, no telephone or number, while he was waiting five floors above for me to tell him I was outside his door five floors below.

This is how I got to see the 'empty your attics' jumble sale at Didot and then got to see all of Matt's former girlfriends in the double-decker studio above the car-repair garage quite a bit of time before Dennis showed up and captured the attention of the tall and thin girls from California.

Sunday was brilliant, the very day to find the suntanners, but because of an email from Jim Auman - referring to last week's cartoon - I was also looking for the oldest VW Beetle I could find.

For this I started at Trocadéro with the vague idea of cruising past the Tour Eiffel to the Champphoto: roller folk on leclerc de Mars and beyond it all the way to the Luxembourg. Suntanners littered the way, with quite a number of them in the shade because it was beyond hot.

And here are the roller folks again, for the second time on Sunday.

The crossing from the Pont d'Iéna to the tower was held up by the passage of the Sunday roller folks, which a number of Sunday motorists did not appreciate.

There were lines of thrill seekers waiting to go up the tower, but a large number of them seemed to be gathered in its shadow. One thing you can say about the tower when you are standing directly beneath it - it has a lot of headroom.

Beyond it, bodies littered the fields of grass that make up the centre of the Champ de Mars. Many more bodies were scattered under the shade of the trees lining both sides of the vast plain between the Tour Eiffel and the Ecole Militaire.

I guess that everybody sunbathing all around Paris yesterday would have fit easily on the Champ de Mars, but they weren't - and I was deciding to not go looking for them.

The Avenue de la Motte was as far as I could get, after seeing dogs frolicking in unwatched pools with fountains, after seeing the guys from Mike's Bike Tours leading weary-looking peddlers on to yet another sight after gazing for a long time at the Ecole Militaire for some reason.

At the corner of the Rue de Suffern I captured the 'Fiat 500 of the Week,' taking a nap after its trip up from Rome. Halfway to the métro, a big crowd was in line to get into the wide-screen air-conditioned cinema. What was playing?

Where I saw the Fiat I also saw other older cars. Some streets seem to be reserved for them. But I didn't see any Beetles, so I was feeling like the whole trip was drawing a blank - forgetting I was looking for suntanners too.

The elevated métro was not cool and it was a relief to get out of it at Denfert. There, right in front of my nose, were the roller people again, headed north towardsphoto: pelouse, pool, both non the Boulevard Saint-Michel. It took them 15 minutes to pass, while blocked drivers got good and high blood pressure. Then I almost reached my door when I remembered the afternoon fête in front of the Mairie.

There are about 25 people in this photo, committing civic crimes of various sorts.

But one of the Bouquet regulars who happened to be passing said the quartier was having a 'sign up with local associations' fête on the place of the marché - not the Mairie. Passing the polling station in the school on the way there, it looked like deserted August.

The fête - with neighborhood people dancing under the green of the trees - gave me a chance to have a cafe at La Comédia, which is usually closed on Sundays. This is how I missed all the snippets of sports news I usually pick up from the TV in the Café Rendez-Vous.

All in all, none of this amounts to anything. There's no super feature about where to get a suntan in Paris, I didn't find any VW Beetle to go with Jim's email, and none of Matt's girlfriends showed up. It was kind of nice being outside without wearing a sweater though.

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