On the Terraces

photo: terrace, le rallye peret

From the Rallye Peret terrace in the Rue Daguerre.

More Better 'Mardi Noir'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 2. June 2003:- Last week's weather was a bit more extreme than the mild prediction for quietly sunny skies and reasonable temperatures. The sun was on the button, but the temperatures escaped upwards.

If it hadn't been for the stinking humidity the 28 to 30 degree highs and the 18 degree lows would have been comfortable, but when the breezes fell to zero, then it felt a bit like warm days and nights in Seville.

Therefore, both residents and visitors were grumbling about the weather. Myself, I like Seville-type weather in the spring or in the fall and know what it can be like if it is 38 degrees and humid.

On Saturday evening Montmartre cooked, tossing hot air into cold clouds, and the result was a lightening show just before sundown. Invisible from my third-floor penthouse was the hail that fell for 45 minutes, along with the lightening.

In some places it piled up depths of 30 centimetres. Some streets, like the Rue du Mont-Cenis, were transformed into a cascade of water, swamping the cross streets. A day later it hadn't all melted. The outlook for Montmartre's vineyard is not rosy.

Then, as if nothing unusual had happened, copious sunshine was on hand again on Sunday. Today started with overcast and cool temperatures and stayed this way without the predicted outburst of afternoon sun.

Although tonight's TV-weather news lady said the weather is 'éléctrique,' she went on to forecast three days of partly sunny, mostly cloudy and partly sunny weather, with uniform highs of 23 degrees. I won't second- guess this.

Café Life

Mouse-Man Day

The signs pasted on windows and doors said the mouse-man was coming on Wednesday to rid my building of unwanted tenants, and that parents shouldn't let babies play in the garbage room.

The sign also mentioned the city ordonnance that forbids keeping mice and rats on the premises, no matter how folkloric they may be. So I wasn't too surprised when the mouse-man rang my buzzer - still stuck to the door frame - and asked me if I was keeping illegal rats.

We were warned that the rodent round-up would last from 9:00 until noon, so I also decided it would be intelligent to use the waiting time until 11:53 to turn on my new-but-used computer box. With some coughing, wheezing, and one or two back-fires, it started.

The mouse-man looked under my sink, which is all white - and clean as a toilet - and who keeps food under a sink? Even mice are smarter. Then he gave me a token mouse-trap to put in another place where there is no food, no crumbs even, and was gone.

This left two hours and 23 minutes to get the new-but-used hard disks scrubbed down to zeros and setphoto: fiat 500, air france bus up to run trouble-free for years to come. One took about 45 minutes, including installing a raw system on it.

Mouse-man type Fiat 500 shown in true perspective for the first time this week.

The other one, by 16:45, had refused all my efforts to force it to admit that it was a hard disk. Since I also discovered that it claimed to be only half the size I thought I bought, mathematically my success score was 63.3 percent, instead of only 50 percent if it had been the advertised size.

This means another trip will be necessary to the geek-junk shop. I wanted to go back anyway to find out if it has some sort of junkyard cat that sheds hair on the machines lying around the floor.

On the Terraces

Friday was a clear and very warm day here. At Inno in Montparnasse I discovered that their blue and white striped tablecloths, to match the dishcloths I am successfully using as curtains, would not be big enough to cover the bed. I should have gotten one first, and then a bed to fit.

After a stop in the green and leafy alley where the Musée du Montparnasse is located - with photos of Che Guevara on exhibit - I washed up on the shady terrace of the café Le Chien Qui Fume. Even without a monumental view, I had 'la vie est belle' for a while. An altogether good café.

Then I wandered down the sunny Rue du Cherche Midi for a long time before turning left towards the Bonphoto: opening bottle Marché department store. I went in it for the first time and admired its ample spaces, but did not find any blue and white textiles big enough to cover my bed.

Somehow I got talking to a fellow who was there taking care of a section full of Daum glass and crystal. I saw some amazing pieces, but nothing that would suit my minimalist idea of a Marseille bedroom.

Getting ready for another dose of drink on a terrace.

One interesting fact emerged from the conversation though. Although some of Daum's pieces on show at their Park Avenue shop in Manhattan are unique to that shop, others that are here too can be had for a price that could include round-trip airfare and maybe a couple of apéritifs on a café terrace.

Exploring further, I found what seemed to be most of the store's shoppers on the highest floor, past the luggage, in a section full of buttons and beads and other doodads.

Did you know that some buttons can be had in eight sizes and eight different colors? Anybody more clever than me could make a whole jacket out of buttons. No trouble getting a replacement if one fell off either.

I left the Bon Marché with a lot left of it to see some other time and found another café terrace in the Rue Saint-Placide, also without a monumental view. I forget its name, but I pass it a couple times a year and its terrace always has wayfarers resting between sessions of shopping.

There is a dessert of cafés going up the Rue de Rennes. If you can make it to the boulevard, it is best to keep on going up the Rue d'Odessa to Edgar Quinet, where there is a selection of café terraces, with a choice of awnings or leaves for shade.

Later on, about sundown I went down the Avenue Leclerc just to be outside without a coat some more, on a wide sidewalk under the plane trees, not yet lit by streetlights but with the neons making their tubular lights.

The big café Zeyer at Alésia was like a yellow lighthouse lying on its side. It doesn't have a proper terrace, but like many cafés all of its windows were open and there were free tables just inside them. I never drink Perrier, but I had my third one of the day.

Sunset is late in Paris. So you can appreciate it more, streetlights are not turned on until about a half hour afterphoto: rue daguerre, night it does down. For a while it is fairly dark, except for headlights and neons. It feels good to be taking it slowly in the semi-darkness, drawing ever closer to the lights of the next café.

The Rue Daguerre just after sundown.

When the streetlights do go on, they give off a soft yellowish light. Sometimes their heads are in the leaves of trees, and the soft light is mostly on green - and since it was only the end of May, it was a fresh green.

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