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 at 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.

Dozy in Paris

It really annoys me to do the 'Metropole One Year Ago' lower on this page when I look at what I've put in these past few issues, and see how industrious I used to be. Maybe I'm getting old and running out of ideas. Maybe I just get less out of every minute of the day. Maybe it is this particular year.

One thing is certain, Paris usually does not have a definable season called 'spring.' You might not even call the two good weeks we had fairly recently a whole season, but they were exceptional. So much so that my winter view of the cemetery across the street has disappeared behind the beginning of a fresh screen of green.

Two weeks ago the buds were barely showing. It has been like an explosion. There are trees around that are a bit slower to get started, but all over Paris there are blossoms and most trees are fully clothed. It makes me dozy just to think about it.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

Continuing silence on this subject means that a great deal of work is going on behind the scenes at 'The Shed,' as the winery is known. Use this link to take you to the latest news about Metropole's sparkling wine, and to all the previous 'news' about it.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Pop this link to last week's "Je ne suis pas content!" club meeting report. The news wasn't absence of members from New Jersey - there were none from any state, territory, city or country.

On account of no members, the club's secretary grabbed at a straw offered by a member who wrote to propose 'Yahoo Junction, Florida.' On reading the name of this 'City of the Week,' member Jan Shaw pointed out that its correct name is Yeehaw Junction.

A triple apology is required here. One goes to the brave citizens of Yeehaw Junction, the second goes to the folksphoto: my window view, 7 april living in Yahoo Junction wherever it is, and finally the club's secretary begs forgiveness for foolishly breaking a club 'rule,' even though there aren't any, for adding a 'City of the Week' to a memberless club report.

My current view of the Montparnasse cemetery is mostly green.

The only good that could come from this is putting up the idea of using Yeehaw Junction as the name for a new Web search engine.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 10. April. The 100th saint's 'Day of the Year' will be Saint-Fulbert. This saint doesn't seem to be named after any place in France. The nearest match is Saint-Fulgent, which is a bit southeast of Nantes.

Nearly all of the details concerning the club - only the club's address is useful to know - are handily placed on the one-stop compact 'About the Club' page. The virtual membership card on this page may be useful, but only one member has ever claimed this.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 6.15 - 9. April 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column's 'For More Sports.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Bernard Tapie Is Back.' There were two features, titled 'Echoes Along the Seine' by Robert F. Burgess, and 'Are the Trains Running? Puzzled?' An email feature's headline was 'More Than Underwear at Stake.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 12. April was the 'On the Loose, the 'Jersey Four' report. There were fourphoto: sign, rue des prestres 12 brand new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Our Sports Reporter.' A photo page featured 'Dimitri's View.'

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 5.15 - 10. April 2000 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Socko Dwarf Show.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Gnome Snatch At Bagatelle.' The itsy-bitsy features of the week were titled '10,000 Minis On Display at Model Show' and 'A Bagatelle of Dwarfs - 2000 of Them!' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 13. April had the 'Starving In Paris' report. There was another club item called 'Brooklyn Makes 'City of the Week.' The 'Scene' column had a 'All the Stuff, from Soup to Nuts.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon was captioned, 'Don't Rush!'

The Tour de France

This bike race around France started out in 1903 - one hundred tears ago! - as a promotional stunt to sell more copies of a newspaper named 'L'Auto' than its competitor which was called 'Le Vélo.' There were, at the time, more bikes around than cars - but 'Le Vélo' didn't know that it would be eclipsed by 'L'Auto,' with a bike race.

The first race was won by the well-known French rider, Maurice 'Chimney Sweeper' Garin. There were only six stages and riders were expected to ride all night because nobody provided hotel rooms. There was no TV coverage anyway.

The 'Tour' almost finished its history the following year because some competitors hitched rides on cars or even trains, and their fans strewed nails across the paths of other riders. 'L'Auto' felt like giving up on the idea, but decided to add mountain stages instead.

This caused the 1906 winner René Pottier to hang himself from a bicycle hook just beforephoto: plaque, jefferson stayed here, 92 champs elysees the 1907 Tour. The race's length had doubled to 4500 kilometres and he just couldn't face it. Luckily, he quit before the really high mountain stages began in 1911.

A scout was sent out to check these and he reported back that the Pyrenees might be passable in summer. Riders called the organizer an assassin, but went out and rode over the peaks anyway.

A plaque seen at 92. Avenue des Champs- Elysées.

Riders had to fix their own flats, and when one broke his forks in the mountains, he borrowed a local forge and made new ones. It is not clear whether he was penalized for having a small boy operate the bellows for the forge.

Competitors no longer do their own repairs, but the race is just as tough - more stages, edgy sponsors - and they can run into bad weather in the mountains, and over-enthusiastic fans can be troublesome. Outside of cities all over Europe, you constantly see riders training for a race, or 'the' race.

For race-stressed count-down fans, the number of days left this year is 268. This may seem like a long time until 2004, and it still seems to be a long time until summer, which is 'officially' 76 long days from now. Almost in microscopic range.
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