A Small Issue, For Real

photo: cafe vigouroux, les halles

Winter lights in late afternoon are normal now.

Real Time Weather, Chaos On Rivoli

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 16. December 2002:- The weather here has remained truly unremarkable. Day after day we have the same old grey thing. This is the kind of winter we used to have - the ones that were damp and wet, that last from the beginning of November until a freak week in February when it is very cold but clear as glass.

It is only the 'freak week' in February that is in doubt. Without even looking at Le Parisien's forecast or watching tonight's TV-weather news I can tell you right now the temperatures will range from lows of about three degrees to six, and the highs will be from seven to ten.

This will be with or without waves of low pressure sweeping in from the Atlantic, or from the direction of the Azores with the warmer temperatures, which taken together, will mean waves of rainy periods that have intermissions with no rain. The sun, such as it is at this time of year, will be low as well as infrequent - briefly appearing for your days' bonus. Wink, and it'll be gone.

Last week there were a number of days that were kind of foggy. This was in fact, low clouds. Under the right conditions, fog in Paris is photogenic - if you don't mind being outside, wishing you were wearing some gloves.

Under the right conditions, I looked out of my near-penthouse window one day last week about noonphoto: tour no tour and was surprised to note the absence of the Tour Montparnasse. It was the first time being in Paris that I can remember not seeing it.

Paris temporarily 'loses' its Tour Montparnasse last week.

A lot of people in Paris have been trying not to see it for over 25 years now. Some of these same people use the tower as a directional aid, but refuse to admit it has any redeeming features.

I looked really hard, but it just wasn't there. Yet, the low clouds did not seem to stop me from looking at the cemetery and some buildings beyond it.

About the 'near-penthouse' phrase above - it has been pointed out to me that I can just forget there are five floors-worth of apartments over my head, and imagine my view of the Montparnasse cemetery is the best there is. 'Best there is' at the moment is kind of gloomy, with all of the naked, dark and wet tree branches, between me and it.

Equal Time 'Exception' Weather

Trust the TV-weather news to try and cheer up Christmas shoppers and visitors. Prediction for Wednesday, sunnier in Paris but with low temperatures due to northeast breezes. Front of nasty from west pushes out sun on Thursday, but maybe with a slight rise in degrees. Who knows? It might turn out to be true.

Café Life

Party Time On Skates

A reader wrote to ask if the ice skating rink at Paris' Hôtel de Ville was 'just for kids.' I wrote back to say 'of course not' and then went downtown on Saturday to look and see if my answer was correct in the true spirit of investigative journalism.

Since this was one of the Saturdays just before Christmas, the Rue de Rivoli was chock-full of holiday shoppers with faces of quiet desperation. But across the street in front of the Hôtel de Ville things were no less hectic.

The line-up to get in the skating rink was a lot longer than the one to get out of it. On top of it, the Hôtel dephoto: skating, hotel de ville Ville is hosting no less than three exhibitions, so there were a lot of people wandering around wondering which line to stand in - although the only one was for the skating rink.

Trick photo appears to show few skaters of jammed Hôtel de Ville ice rink.

I think there is something like 1200 square metres of ice to twirl around on, and there is a sort of narrow balcony on three sides which affords a small view of this. Getting slightly back and up a bit higher, showed that the rink was absolutely full of skaters surrounded by onlookers.

Very few of them were 'kids.' You can take this to mean that adults are allowed to rent skates, to do a little gliding around under the windows of Paris' mayor, Bertrand Delanoë.

If this seems too sporty, there are three exhibitions. I'm not sure all of these are mentioned in the 'Scene' or 'Noël 2002' columns, but you can find the entry for the fascinating Yves Montand exhibition on the Rue de Rivoli side. The other two exhibitions are around the corner on the Rue de Lobau side of the Hôtel de Ville.

On Saturday, with the skaters, the exhibition viewers, the shoppers and the river of traffic flowing through the middle, it seemed as crowded as the Boulevard Haussmann the week before - but with a wider variety of activities.

Sudden Hunger

Food is sold all over Paris out on the streets. There are joes selling roasted chestnuts on every corner, booths with hot crêpes and Italian sandwiches. Yves Montand used to get hot frites on the street wrapped in paper cones, and have ambulatory snacks while wandering around Paris looking for song lyrics.

After suffering hunger pangs brought on by viewing the energetic skaters, I wandered across to Notre Dame - noting that its holiday crêche is apparently inside the cathedral and not in a huge temporary manger outside - to a café on the left bank, where I ordered a simple plate of frites.

This came with a napkin, a fork, and salt and pepper with a pot of mustard. It also came with a double café, which tended to get cooler than the frites, faster. Anyway, the frites were more than they seemed to be at first, and they hit the empty spot they were intended for.

Dimitri To the Rescue

My landlord left a very useful armoire in my apartment, but he had the foresight to remove the bar for hanging clothes - which I decided to re-install because the new apartment has - in general European fashion - no built-in closets. Bookshelves do not fulfill this function very well.

So, about two months ago, I bought a bar and two support things to hold it in place. Then I asked Dimitri if he could take the time - and his tools and his expertise - to put the thing in for me.

A month ago he explained that he keeps his tools in the atelier - where I used to live - instead of his apartment - located around the corner, two minutes from where I live now.

Yesterday, while intending to go for a Sunday spin in his 2CV and run up its battery, he phoned to find outphoto: rue de rivoli if I still needed the clothes bar installed. As it turned out, his Sunday spin went no further than the pre-Christmas traffic jam right outside the car's garage - so he brought his tools over.

Exhibitions, Christmas shopping - side by side on Rivoli.

Dimitri is thorough. To screw in six little wood screws, he brought three awls, two types of screws, a measuring tape and a carpenter's level, plus some odds and ends. I provided a pencil and a light, and the whole thing was down in ten minutes because I insisted that the bar didn't need any shims to hold it tight within its attachment things.

The long part of the job was eating some real peanuts and drinking some wine while listening to some Ry Cooder playing 'Paris, Texas' with the imperfectly-working amplifier.

It has only taken two months, but I am more nearly moved in than ever. Also, I can put books on those shelves that served as shirt hangers. All I need now is a stout coat hanger for the hall. I hope it is in place before summer, before I quit wearing the winter coats on a daily basis.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

For tool fans Allan Pangborn has sent some photos of the intricate machinery used for making Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc. And for wine fans there is some positive news for sparkling grape fanciers in New York State.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Hit this link to last week's mellow 'Dennis' Toy Show and Swing Club' club meeting report. This meeting began with the surprise arrival of a huge package from member, Terri Blazek. Its contents will be examined during the coming meeting.

All the arcane details concerning the club - actually somewhat exciting - are readily available onphoto: two frites the 'About the Club' page. If you think the virtual membership card may be useful, you can attempt to peel it right off the screen and keep it next to your heart.

Two orphaned 'frites' survive Ed's hunger.

To save you a short hyperlink trip to the 'About' page, all you need to know is - you should be at the café on the Quai du Louvre in Paris known worldwide as the Café La Corona on any Thursday.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 19. December. The Saint's Day of the Week next Thursday is Urbain. Urbain II - no relation - was born at Châtillon-sur-Marne, and invented the first crusade to give Crusaders something useful to do.

Metropole's Holiday Issues

This thin issue 7.51 would normally be followed by issue 7.52, but it is more likely that the two issues will be combined next Monday, 23. December. The following issue 8.01 straddles 2002 and 2003, but for unrelated reasons it may simply appear as an update to the double issue 7.51/7.52, thus making it Metropole's first three-issues-in-one in history.

Last Thursday's Café Metropole Club report suggested that the club's secretary would be 'on holiday' for the meetings scheduled for Thursday, 26. December and Thursday, 2. January - if no readers and/or club members complained. So far, none have.

The custom is to hold meetings without fail rather than because readers and members announce their intention to be at them. If you cannot come to any other meetings, and have been counting on attending the ones on 26. December and 2. January - please let the secretary know.

The first 'complete' issue of 2003 will be number 8.02 and it will appear on Monday, 6. January. This will probably be a multiple-week issue too, with terribly exciting reports and features from New York City, including some of its famous boroughs.

Extra-Special Multiple-Time Offer

The server-lady's 'Paris In Sites Newsletter' has been plugged here for a couple of weeks now, without any word from the Cadillac Ranch concerning new subscriptions and the status of my 'café-credit.' To re-stock this, I need you to send in a thousand new subs fast.

Linda Thalman serves no drinks or snacks as such, but looks after Metropole's Web server. On the side she produces a Paris In Sites newsletter and a companion Web site. Hit the first to subscribe and the second to see the fuller Web version.

Linda chats about language, tourism news, events and stories from and about Paris and France. She also reports about her various travels around the world and to outposts in Essonne - most unordinary places. The newsletter is sent by email every month and is worth a lot even if it is free.

The Web site version is more complete as well as being 'in color.' However, I only get the café-credits for subscriptions to the newsletter, so sign up for one in time for the next issue in January.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.51/52 - 17/24. Dec 2001 - This issue, like all others, began with the Café Metropole column with the headline, 'The Weather, Coluche and the Euro.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'More Than You Wanted To Know About You Know What.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 20. December was called 'The Big 'Oops' of the Week ' report of the week. This double issue had a second club report for the meeting held on 27. December, called 'The Stereo New York-Paris' report. The issue's 'Scene' column doubled its value with two columns crammed into one, with, 'Christmas - andphoto: sign, place josephine baker New Year's 2002.' The week's four new 'Posters of the Week' were present and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Seasonal Greetings, Sincerely.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.51 - 18. Dec 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Bigger Than My Head.' The 'Au Bistro' column was absent again on account of legless legwork. There were two features, titled 'Paris' 'Little Belt' Tram Line' and 'Réveillon' - Midnight Supper.' The Café Metropole Club had two updates in this issue, for 14. December, with the oddly titled, 'Adrian Leeds' report and on 21. December with the '"What Happened To Roissy's Rabbits?" report. The 'Scene' column was replaced by Eva Lee's 'Conspiracy of Flop' email musings. The four new 'Posters of the Week' were featured somehow and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Watching Out for Speedbumps.'

The Not Count-Down of the Week

The number of days left to go until we get a new year, which is more certain than ever to be 2003, is only 15! This may not seem like many days left to go, and they really aren't even if you are counting them on the fingers of two hands and five toes.

As of this writing, I cannot remember if there are any other 'count-downs' going on, and judgingphoto: sign, awning crank, broken from your responses to recent ones - none - you probably prefer it this way.

This does not mean that there will be no 'count-downs' in the future because Paris is always planning ahead. For example, the 300th anniversary of the birth of Alexandre Dumas is coming up, even though it will not feature his implantation in the Pantheon again.

Then there are 'reverso-count-downs' which usually commemorate fabulous happenings of the past, such as the thrilling 1910 Paris flood, which is in fact being fondly remembered by almost everybody here because it happened before they were born - and it might replay anytime within the next 20 years.

Counting-up or down, you can almost be certain that it will be featured here - especially if one or more readers or club members suggest it to me as being of suitable enough interest so that it requires no reader response whatsoever.

This will leave 'Ed' free to assure casual readers that ice skating at the Hôtel de Ville is 'not only' for kids.
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