Any Peniches for Rent?

photo: cafe tabac 2 moulins, rue lepic

Here it is - movie star Amélie Poulain's real café.

Count-downless & Out

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 9. September 2002:- On Sunday a storm warning was given for the areas around Marseille and the ensuring storm outdid its forecast, drowning the area in torrential rains, thunder and lightening storms lasting into today, with the warning continuing until 21:00 for the Var department.

Meanwhile in Paris, the sky was up to next to nothing by being nearly all grey, and the temperatures had difficulty getting above 20 - which is low 'for this time of year,' but not too unusual.

For tomorrow this may degrade slightly, with a high of no more than 19 degrees, which is ever 'lower for this time of year.'

Since you have put up with the lousy forecast so far, your reward is Wednesday - when the weather map shows absolutely nothing for this area other than a forecast high of a blazing 22. In case this modest improvement doesn't actually turn up, please remember that 'nothing' is better than 'crummy.'

Yet, as things now are, the long-term forecast for next Thursday shows sunshine for Paris, with the high holding steady at 22 degrees. Friday looks even better but since I hardly believe in Thursday, I won't bet on it.

None of the above are actual weather predictions. If you recall last week's column, I decided that I was never meant to write weather predictions - not even in good faith.

But I feel that readers have grown used to having 'weather' start this column and nothing that anybody is 'used to' gets tossed out with the baby and the dish water, so I include a facsimile of a weather report - and trust you to treat it as fiction.

Café Life

Chez Claude

I am a nearly perfect patient, as far as my doctor is concerned. I only go to see her once every six months. After we decide I am still alive - a walk-in patient! - I ask her how she is.

General practitioners were 'on strike' in the spring because the public- health hadn't allowed them tophoto: rue pilon raise their rates for six or eleven years, and the new euro was straining things a bit. After many colorful demonstrations all over France - with real virtual blood - the doctors forced through a consultation hike to 20 euros.

Even with this, not many doctors golf much in France. They can't - being more or less employees of the public-health system, which has such a great deficit that it swallows golf courses whole.

Way down the Rue Pilon - that's Paris down there.

Anyway, I am in good shape despite being totally unnerved from looking for new lodgings for so long. After the short consultation I thought a café might perk me a bit, but I ran into a guy on the street who was looking for my concierge's husband.

He was two days too late. After living here for 27 years, my concierge and her husband and two kids and their little dog, went back home to Portugal on Wednesday. For me, it means no more smells of Portuguese cooking in the courtyard, and probably no more watered flower pots either. It really is time to move if for no other reason.

After having my café in Jean's La Comédia - he has Portuguese tapas! - I dropped into Claude's hair-clip joint to say hello and see if any ladies there were in the apartment rental business.

None were, of course. But when a monsieur came in, Claude was reminded of the Paris campsite in the Bois de Boulogne. Claude suggested that I get a camping-car and move in there. If they threw me out, I could simply drive to another one, in Saint-Tropez or somewhere.

The monsieur said that peniches were good in a pinch too. With Europe's crazy weather and all the floods everywhere, their big advantage is that they float. With advice like this, I think I'll go back to my doctor and ask for something stronger.

Amélie's Famous Café

A week ago I mentioned here that the café featured in the movie, the 'Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain,' is about to change owners, and this made me think I should give it a once-over before this happens.

The café is halfway up the part of the Rue Lepic that begins at the Place Blanche and goes straight up to where it turns left after not joining the Rue des Abbesses coming from the right. Being an experienced hiker of Paris' hills, I rode the métro to Abbesses so that I could walk down in comfort.

But first there is the Rue des Abbesses itself. Between the métro station and the Rue Lepic, it has about the same atmosphere, and many more cafés, so it should be included anyway.

Neither of the two streets is a 'movie' street. Both are, together really, one marché quartierphoto: interior, cafe 2 moulins that caters to the surrounding neighborhood. Despite being part of Montmartre, despite being famous for a really long time, neither has the utter postcard-look of the top of the 'butte.'

The interior of Amélie's café Saturday afternoon.

Horsemeat butchers sell horsemeat, boulangeries sell baguettes, wine shops sell wine, greengrocers sell green groceries, five-and-dime shops sell stuff for euros, and the fish shops sell fish lying on beds of ice.

Between these the cafés have what cafés are supposed to have, and none of anything seemed to be fixed up to look like a cartoon of itself.

There were obvious visitors around who had come to see Amélie's quartier and fill up large portions of the café terraces, but I had the feeling that there won't be so many of these around on grey days in November, when everybody else will be inside the cafés after doing their shopping.

I saw some parts of the movie's first 30 minutes about 12 times. Its hyped colors do not match reality, which is somewhat more subdued - but no less colorful if you bother to look at it carefully.

The best part about the Rue Lepic is that it is the Rue Lepic and not somebody's idea of what the Rue Lepic should be like, and it appears as if the Rue Lepic has been the way it is now for about the last 40 years.

The city seems to have left it alone, leaving its street and sidewalks as they are, and the surrounding streets are just the same. I may have overlooked some places that have been tricked up a bit, but I can't honestly say I remember seeing any ferns or obvious deco.

Yes, November for the Rue Lepic sounds about right. It doesn't have to be then because September can have November days and so can any other month. The colors will be even more subdued then too, whenever it is.

Toilets Re-open

A bit of good news is the re-opening of the coin-operated 420 public toilets located on Paris sidewalks.photo: metro entry abbesses These had been closed since last September for security reasons. While most will be operating 24 hours a day, some will be closed from 22:00 to 06:00. Their entry charge is now 45 cents.

The best métro stop for the Rue Lepic - Abbesses.

Eventually, about half of the existing toilets will become free. The city intends to seek a newly designed model for 50 new sites, to be suitable for the handicapped, and these will all be free.

'Paris Respire'

The photo of the sign for this was in last week's Café column, proceeding Wednesday's announcement that this is the new name for the action that sees certain streets closed to motorized traffic from 10:00 to 18:00 on Sundays and holidays.

It means 'Paris Breathes' and replaces the older slogan of 'Paris Piétons Vélos Rollers,' which had been dreamed up by a lawyer on a bad-hair day. The action has been extended to the proximity of the Luxembourg garden as well as the areas previously affected.

It also includes the banks of the Seine, up until November. These become carless again in March, when the possibility of high river levels should be reduced.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

I can't conceive of why you might have been somewhat tardy about reading news of last Thursday's club meeting 'report,' but I assume you have your justifiable reasons.

No matter what they are, before doing anything else, you can catch up with your club's 'news' right now by hitting this link to the ''Illegal Parking Is Back' report.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 12. September. The club's 'Saint's Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint- Apollinaire, no less.

Readers who want to become real club members can gloss over the meager details concerning thisphoto: fiat 500, cafe le fumoir free club in eleven seconds by reading the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page and maybe peeling the virtual membership card right off the screen.

Near the club's own period café - the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

Joining the club - your club! - is almost as easy. Do it by being here! Remember that reports about meetings are supposed go online right after them, right after I finish writing them, slowly. This happens every week, so you can read them right away in this magazine, which is online too.

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

Metropole's Affiliates

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This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.37 - 10. Sept 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column's lackluster 'Café Life' Takes a Beating.' The 'Au Bistro' column was solemn with the 'BLACK TUESDAY on 11. September.' This issue had one feature, 'You Can Look for the Bièvre,' leaving unsaid that you can't find it. The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 13. September was called the 'Trashy But Worthless' report. The week's 'Scene' column cheerily greeted, 'Hello! Fall Season.' There werephoto: sign, rue tomie, des abbesses four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Café Time Is Over!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.37 - 11. Sept 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Post-Summer Festivals.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Back To Square One?' For a change this issue had two features, 'Down and Out In Paris' and 'Free Meat for Paris' Art Fans.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 14. September, was called the 'Your Club Turns 50!' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Carry On - September.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were on view too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'No Twingo!' This may have been a true 'first' too.

Count-Up-Down In Semi-Suspension

Incredible as it may be, I am freshphoto: signs, rue cauchois, twice out of 'count-down' subjects because the only one I have is for the Jewish New Year, which was last Friday about sundown.

This was, by the calendar in common use, the 249th day of the year 2002 in the 36th week. By the Jewish calendar we are now in the year 5763. I asked for the origin of this date, wondering what came before it, but I was unable to get an answer. It seems like a high number, so I guess it doesn't involve any Greeks.
signature, regards, ric

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