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 horse 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.

The other day he was telling me about being out at a church in Créteil, to look at a job of fixing up some sort of casket containing a couple of saints.

He and the priest worked hard to get the lid off. After mucking about a bit, Dimitri figured there shouldphoto: bateau from pont des arts be a user's manual with it, and sure enough, one popped out. It was written in the 1830's when the casket was last closed up, with trick bolts and seals and whatnot.

The box was supposed to contain the saints Algibert and Agoard, a couple of Roman-era French christians who were martyred by the usual barbarians, sometime in the 4th century.

The Seine is like sea-level. Everything else in Paris is above it, except the métro.

Dimitri said the bones weren't much more than slivers. He stuck his hands into them to find the biggest ones. He said it gave him a funny feeling, handling this 1600 year-old stuff - and left-over people at that. The oddest thing, he said, was that there were four skulls in the box.

Apparently, according to what he was told, there is a kind of 800 year blank spot in their history, because written accounts of their martyrdom are only attributed to about 1200.

Dimitri sure gets interesting jobs sometimes - or he will, if his bid on the job is accepted. As is the custom, we shook hands when he parted in the café. This is how I got a second-hand touch of a couple of guys who ran into a little bad luck 1600 years ago.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

If you are no longer distracted by sports news, I cannot understand why you haven't had time to read last Thursday's club meeting 'report.' In case this is the case, you can catch up with your club's news by hitting this link to the "It's a Virtual-Reality Club"" report, and nobody will know the difference.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 4. July. The club's 'Saint's Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Florent's day.

Readers who wish to become real club members can scan the few minor details concerning thisphoto: resto la maison rose free club in 52 seconds by reading the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page and maybe clipping the virtual membership card off the screen.

Around the Maison Rose restaurant on Montmartre, nothing is level.

Joining is easier than simply easy. Do it by being here! Being here on a Thursday is even better. Keeping up with club 'news' is no great chore either, because the reports about it go online right after the meetings, right after I finish writing them slowly; You can read them in this magazine, which is online too.

Save 'Metropole Paris' as one of your favorite bookmarks to avoid mistyping its overly-long name every time you feel like reading a club report, or a regular edition like this one.

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 travel 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.'

'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 6.27 - 2. July 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, titled the 'Saved! The Bélière.' The 'Au Bistro' column became legal with 'Triple Jeopardy.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Villa Paris - Out In the Country In the City' This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 5. July was called the 'Surprise' of the Week' Report. The week's 'Scene' columnphoto: sign, rue maurice utrillo was headlined 'Paris Open 24/24, All Summer.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Back To Normal.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.27/8 - 3. July 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'It'll Be a Picnic.' This small issue had no 'Au bistro' column and no features, distinguished or otherwise. The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 1. July, was called the 'Huge Success of the Week report, but it was not a report' because the secretary was 'hors continent.' Linda Thalman hosted a meeting on 6. July, instead. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Paris Eté 2000.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were on view too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'The New World' which might have been anything.

Countdown To Saturday, 13. July

Despite a couple of semi-important upcoming dates that could be suitable 'countdown' candidates - only two of them are here this week, both for cultural reasons.

As of today, there are only 183 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 182 days now - nearly exactly six whole months! - more than long enough for everybody to treat it like regular old money.

This week's second countdown is to Saturday, 13. July, which is only 12 days off. This date isphoto: sign, entree interdite the eve of Bastille Day, when most of the cultural street parties take place - weather permitting - with the official stuff happening the following day.

The parade on the Champs-Elysées is important, but a lot of people tend to skip it so they will have strength enough to go to see the fireworks on the evening of the 14th at the Tour Eiffel. If you have TV in your hotel room, the parade is always broadcast. It usually rains too, and hotel rooms are usually dry.

Of course, if you've just gotten off a plane from Brazil after looking at new videos of World Cup fireworks for 19.5 hours straight, maybe you'd rather just skip the whole thing and get up early enough on Monday to see the garbagemen sweeping up the confetti left over after the Fête.
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini