Dozy in Paris

photo: cafe fontaine saint michel

Very brave terrassians in very fresh air.

More Air, More Fresh

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 7. April 2003:- Last week's weather did not set any records in Paris, for any month let alone March or April. It rained a bit, it poured a bit, it was a bit windy, a bit sunny, and it wasn't a bit warm.

This morning it still isn't warm. The sky doesn't look ice-blue so it is a bit deceptive - even if it looks fine, cloudless blue-blue, even if it sparkles. But there is a wind from the northwest that has put a feeling of icicles in my bones.

All I have to do is step out of my door to get the full blast of it as it hurtles across the cemetery and flushes through my street with nothing to slow it down except the bus shelters. Much better to take the parallel Rue Daguerre where there are patches of sunlight sheltering from the wind.

Despite the blue sky, the weather maps in today's Le Parisien are in gray. A fairly bright week seems to be before us, with each day gaining a degree in temperature, starting from today's high of 10 C. By Friday we won't need gloves if all goes well.

Tonight's TV-weather news seemed to confirm the generally blue skies to come - until Wednesday, when they get a bit fuzzy. Also, the TV forecast is not so optimistic about the rising temperatures, with them expected to top out at 13 C.

Café Life

Lots of It - Maybe Too Much

If I understand eyewitness accounts correctly, Sydney has winters that resemble Paris summers. So it is hard to understand why anyone from there who has just lived through a summer that might seem a tad extreme to Parisians, would want to experience spring in France instead of three seasons of fall in Australia.

But my old friend Nigel is a Europhile, and has been visiting here every couple of years for a long time. Last week he showed up with Mrs. Nigel, and they immediately took a dislike to the hotel I had reserved for them. If it has better rooms, they gave the visitors the wrong ones.

So the Nigels immediately rearranged themselves in another hotel, a short block away. With room windowsphoto: fiat 600 of the week overlooking two streets, with breakfast included, it was much better. The room they got wasn't either of the two dumpy ones the hotel showed me when I looked for a place for them.

Our first 'Fiat 600 of the Week' is much rarer than the dozens of featured 'Fiat 500s of the Week.'

Nigel is a big fan of café life so we had some of this in the Bouquet. For the occasion, the Bouquet staged 'shout night' each time we were there, and to get even we stayed until they had stacked up all the chairs we weren't using.

If Mrs. Nigel has been in Paris before, she hadn't seen the Tour Eiffel. So on their first day, their plane-landing day, she saw the Tour Eiffel from the métro's line six when it crosses the Seine, and then we inspected the Champs-Elysées.

We picked a day when the weather decided to do everything every 30 minutes. Rain, with intervals of downpour, gusty winds and occasional sights of the sun rotated with each other. It reminded me of a certain day in July, 1997.

Near Rond-Point we took refuge in a café with a glassed-in terrace. At first I thought it was a café I'd been in before, but it turned out to be a first time. Everybody coming in looked as if they'd just crossed the North Sea in a kayak.

I wasn't jet-lagged so I broke off the touring and returned to the office and had a siesta. Nigel came by very much later. He was a bit worried about losing Mrs. Nigel in the Rue de la Huchette - because he gave her directions to the métro at Saint-Michel, which he didn't know is closed.

He did this in order to be on time for café life in the Bouquet. I had been there and allowed for the regulation not-on-time period, and then turned the watch over to Dimitri.

Nigel found him there, and they had to stay until the chairs were stacked up. So, at my place, Nigel stillphoto: pont des arts felt he hadn't had the day's full ration of café life - in addition to the Champs-Elysées, Magritte at the Jeu de Paume, Notre Dame - and we went to the Rendez-Vous to have some more of it.

The decking of the Pont des Arts is being renovated, but the rest is holding up fine.

We nearly made it until the Rendez-Vous began stacking up its chairs, but not quite. You have to be a master of café life to do this, or get up really early in the morning.

Thursday was the day of the big transport strike, but the Nigels managed to use the métro to get to Montmartre, to the department stores and to wherever else that was on their list. It is pretty strenuous being a visitor.

I think this is why I didn't see Mrs. Nigel again. Friday had another café life session in the Bouguet, until the chairs were stacked up. Dimitri remembered he had asked somebody to dinner and went off to the Monoprix to see what he could get for six euros.

Nigel and I tried getting into a restaurant that Dimitri said only serves 25-year olds. There were two dozen of them outside, so we went to an adult place instead. The Nigels planned to leave in the morning in a rental car - to go west, then east, maybe south - but to Italy for sure, by the end of the month.

So we did not finish off with a lot of café life in the Rendez-Vous. Just a little bit.

Library's Library Books

While nosing around not exactly finding what I was looking for on Friday, I happened on the shop that sellsphoto: blossoms, institut de france some of the books produced by Paris' public libraries. For example, the Bibliothéque Forney is a library that specializes in graphic arts and is also the city's poster museum.

The year's 'Postcard of the Week' looked better in real life, when the Institut's gilding glittered.

As such, the Forney has produced several books devoted to a variety of poster artists, such as Savignac and Hervé Movran, who did posters for movies and products like Banania. Other Paris libraries, such as the Bibliothéque Historique, produce books as well - either based on their collections or on special exhibitions - such as 'Ciels de Paris,' photographed by Charles Marville.

Many of the books can be found at the bookshop of the Bibliothéque Historique, in the Rue Pavée next to the library. But the reception for the book sales is located in a small shop t 6. Rue François-Miron, Paris 4. It is open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 18:00. This shop also assures sales by correspondence.

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