Leftover Confetti

photo: cafe au soleil le la butte

This issue is full of ups and downs, but the café Au Soleil le la Butte is a 'be-happy' place.

And Empty Ping-Pong Balls

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. July 2002:- Well, how nice it was. Everybody votes four times, everybody has their cozy 'fêtes de quartier' and everybody turns out for a warm and dry Fête de la Musique. Finally, the 'Soldes d'Eté' begin on a pleasant sunny day with a refreshing breeze.

Then, because everybody is in a good mood for going away on holidays, the weather stays nice enough for the weekend departures, and half a million Parisians can keep on shopping so they can be properly togged out with the latest gear for summer or take part in Saturday's 'Marche des Fiertes Lesbienne, Gai, Bi & Trans!' - which used to be called simply, 'Gay Pride.'

In short, up until this morning the weather was fine. Since this morning it has drizzled most of the day, more of less non-stop. The temperature would be 'normal' in Dublin, and since Dublin is getting this too, it is four degrees below normal there.

It is so bad that Le Parisien has replaced the traditional last-page weather report with the report of the Périfreak! closuresphoto: fiat 500 of the week for the summer. This includes all the roadworks to be going on blocking the gates of Paris, so all of the suburbanites who thought they were going to have clear sailing this summer - have been foiled yet again.

So long as there's a 'Fiat 500 of the Week' the world is still in working order.

The actual weather report in today's paper is hidden on page 22, and it is in shades of grey instead of its usual color. I am trying not to take this personally, but I am having a hard time. Is there some rule that everybody has to go to the Riviera to get grilled like a sardine?

To make a bad thing short, there may be some sunny periods sometime around Thursday, and the temperature may get up to 22 or 23 degrees, maximum. A really crummy 17 is forecast for tomorrow.

Even Le Parisien says the afternoon won't be better, and overall, it is not going to be famous. At least there is still a lot of joy in Brazil.

Café Life

The Flat Hunt IX

This has jumped up this page a bit to become a number two preoccupation, after the ever-freaking weather - which I don't actually care much about one way or the other except when I want photos of the sun shining on Paris.

Well, this is not actually true if I feel cold - inside, with no heat in the summer, and it is colder than outside in the winter. This too is fairly easy to bear unless I happen to be sitting around here for 12 hours at a stretch banging out this column - which is actually what is happening right this minute.

Except that I'm banging away at the keyboard furiously - keeping warm! - because I want to get up real early and find a new apartment to rent before noon.

On the other hand, to be sensible about this, I should slow down so that I'm still awake at 05:00. If I were, I couldphoto: sig, appartement a visiter trundle down to the Gare Montparnasse and get the morning edition of Le Figaro and start phoning up sleeping people who have advertised apartments for rent.

You know what happens when you do this? You don't get an appointment to see the flat until 14:00. And when you get there, half asleep, you find 20 other flat-seekers ahead of you.

To be fair, there was a 700 year-old elevator that worked.

Then, when it's your turn to look at the tiny, cruddy thing, and you want to pretend to be eager, so you say, "I like this place so much that I phoned you at 05:00."

The person with the tiny, cruddy flat for rent on the fifth floor without an elevator, miles from the nearest métro, says, "Leave your application with me and I'll give it a careful examination."

As soon as you leave and the door closes, it gets ripped to shreds.

If they don't do it in reality, they might as well. Last Tuesday - not my best-day-of-the-week - I did look at a nearby place that was a bit small, with a bit too much furniture in it already - but I thought I would be more interested in the other bigger, unfurnished place, at the same rent that I was told about by the agent.

Actually being in an apartment for rent, without 20 other people waiting outside the door, is like being in the same bush as two birds. You have to keep your eye on one bird, or both of them are going to stay in the 'bush.'

Between the non-reaction with the place I saw on Tuesday, I harassed innocent people on the street, paid surprise visits to real estate agents and buttonholed near total strangers in cafés. Actual friends are avoiding me.

On Friday another offer appeared in the paper. There was no number to phone - just an address and a time to be there - 14:00. The wrong arrondissement was given, and the place was sandwiched in between La Santé prison and a convent, and facing the Cochin hospital, in a dead-end behind the Boulevard Port Royal.

It was probably an address the 13th arrondissement chose to forget. When I got there, there were only six people in front of me. There was a wonderful view of a firemen's training tower from the kitchen window, when I got to see the interior. Other views were less thrilling.

On the way out, the rental guy was handing out financial questionnaires to be filled in and mailedphoto: upstairs, downstairs somewhere. A lady who hadn't been impressed with the place either, told me as we left together that she had been looking for an apartment for three months.

And this is because she had bought an apartment a bit too soon to move into it. It sounded a bit screwy to me - why not just rent a short-term furnished place?

Is Paris down or is it up? See this week's feature article.

Normal places are rented unfurnished, on three-year leases. If there's a chair in the place, they can be rented as furnished, on a one-year lease. These are known as 'precarious' leases, and they seem to be fairly common in Paris these days.

And, of course, 'furnished' apartments cost more. Some people think I am getting over-anxious about this. They think I'm being very funny when I say I'm going to end up on the avenue living in a cardboard refrigerator box.

They are probably right. There won't be any places left on the avenue. I'll have to set up my refrigerator box in some other part of town.

On account of this search for new lodgings the next issue of Metropole may not be next week. Getting a new roof is something that now requires a priority effort, so I'm going to work on it full time.

'Full-time' may not amount to 24 hours a day, so there may be some updates to this issue over the coming two weeks. The Café Metropole Club reports will appear as usual. And - if I get an apartment tomorrow - then I might be involved in the terror of actually moving.

Dimitri's Bones

It looks like the job of gilding the horse-meat butcher's hose heads has fallen through. Dimitri had the idea that if he got to do one set of them, horse-meat butchers from all over Paris would flock to him to have their trademark horses made all shiny and new.

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