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Salvador Allende's Week

photo: terrace, club med, champs elysees

Club Med's terrace on the Champs-Elysées.

Meet Prosper Mérimée

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 8. September 2003:- Cars driving by under my window in the rain make a sound like approaching wind but as they are going away they sound like boats skimming along the watery street. If there are a lot of them everything sounds wet, with black glistening tires making disappearing tracks on the asphalt.

When it is night, as it is, it seems like it has been going on forever. The forever rain. Yet rain is seldom here. The wet clouds that drag across France from the Atlantic are not terribly big and full. They are just little clouds with a little rain in them, sometimes. I must be thinking of some other country where the clouds are heavy and they can last for a month non-stop.

The middle of last week showed us a first burst of fall's sunshine. There were two days when it was about as bright as it ever gets, what I call ninety- percent days, which is giving them a lot of credit. I wonder if there were any in August despite the heat. Probably not, because reports said the air wasn't good.

So, out of 365 days in a year in Paris, there might be five crystal-clear ones. It's a lot less than ten percent. It is not like wherever there are a lot of crystal-clear days, if there is anyplace like that.

Today's weather map of France in Le Parisien looks like a rehearsal for days of unrelieved gloom, yet it was pretty sunny this morning and not too cool even if it wasn't much below 20 degrees. I wasn't paying attention to it when it quit being bright and cheerful this afternoon.

Last night the TV-weather news had a forecast for the week that got more upbeat the further ahead it looked. Thisphoto: sleeper, pont des arts type of forecast has been shown on Sunday evenings before, but when Monday night's forecast rolls around, they won't go beyond Wednesday. The coming three-out-of-five-chance one-sunball weekend is scrapped overnight.

There were a couple of dozy people lying around Paris last Wednesday.

Tonight it was replaced with waves of cloud looking like big rollers, rolling across the country from the northwest. Wind in the Channel punching it in, and big winds down south, sucking it out into the Mediterranean at twice the speed. Coming from the northwest, a high of 17 degrees tomorrow will be no surprise.

But don't take this too seriously. It just looks dramatic. by Wednesday the Atlantic wind shifts to its normal position of blowing from the west by southwest, to push some weaker waves of clouds over France to Luxembourg. Give temperature plus one degree.

Thursday, et voilà! Luxembourg gets it all, and in its wake we have partly sunny practically everywhere, with a temperature spread of 22 for Paris and 24 for Marseille. Even if the 'nose' of Finistere sticking out in the Atlantic gets a dose of cloudy, it will have the same temperature as the Riviera. Who knows? Maybe we'll have the one-sunball weekend after all.

Café Life

Salvador Allende In the 14th

Last Tuesday, less wrung out than usual, I was in my quartier's public library to catch up on my reading that has little or nothing to do with this job. Nevertheless, the first thing I do when I go there is always check the rack of brochures, to see if there are any events going on that I don't know about.

Sure enough, printed on a half sheet, on one side, in black on white, was an invitation to pay 'Homage to Salvador Allende, Ex-president of Chile' that very evening, in the annex of the local city hall. This was to be the kick-off for a four-day exhibition by Chilean artists, with an inaugural concert by Angel Parra, and a closing film titled 'I Love Pinochet.'

When I arrived later on at the top of the annex's impressive two-flight reverse staircase, the first person I saw was the arrondissement's mayor, Pierre Castagnou, talking with who I guessed to be Chile's Ambassador to France. The rest of the large hall was filled with a lot of people speaking Spanish, and the walls were hung with paintings and photos, with a few sculptures in the entry area.

It looked almost like a private party. The simple invitation didn't say anything about it being a 'vernissage' and I didn't see anything looking eatable or drinkable, so I circulated once, decided it was my 'day off,' and left.

Another note I had seen in the library said that the 14th arrondissement is now online. In one way or another the Daguerre part of the 14th has been online for some time already, but the Mairie of the 14th's Web site is official.

In parts it is quite poetic. It's geography is described like this, "By its trapezoidal form, thephoto: allende homage, mairie 14th map of the 14th, in the form of the iron blade of a hatchet slicing towards the south, was certainly one of the best sculpted arrondissements created under the direction of Baron Haussmann."

Friends of Chile, paying homage to Salvador Allende last week.

In my mind, the Baron was sitting in his office one day, looking at this out-of-town blank space south of the Boulevard Montparnasse. On the west were, and still are, the railroad tracks, and on the east there were two big hospitals - Cochin and Saint-Anne, so he drew a line to the east of them, down the Rue de la Santé.

Then he reflected. The hospitals, although sizeable, didn't quite balance the weight of the rails in the west, so the Baron added the Santé prison to the east. It has had almost as many famous people in it as are still in the Montparnasse cemetery. As far as I know it is pure coincidence that the shape of the prison is the same as the arrondissement, trapezoidal.

Finally, the place and/or square in the 7th arrondissement with the name of Santiago de Chile, received the name of Salvador Allende during the week.

Isabelle Twirls

I am pretty sure helicopter flights are not permitted over Paris, but Isabelle Ducros Grosdemouge can take you whirling up in her helicopters for rides over châteaux and other sights in the areas around Paris, best seen - and photographed - from the air. Isabelle claims lady helicopter pilots have a 'softer' hand on the tiller, and 600 passengers so far haven't complained. Check out Isabelle's Isahelico Web site or phone 06 12 71 34 78.

Paris In Stereo

Las Vegas photographer and longtime Metropole reader John McCulloch says we should all take a look at these 19th century stereoscopic viewsphoto: porte des lions, louvre of Paris. As he says, 'just in case I haven't tumbled on this Web site.' In passing, John has also invited me to Nevada to 'get cooked like a lobster.' I should have stayed in Paris in August if I wanted to try it.

The Louvre's Porte des Lions, with the quay beyond.

Jobs du Luxe

The luxo business involves 24,000 companies in France, including two globally recognized giants, l'Oréal and LVMH - which stands for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. These two coloassalos alone control a dozen major brands. 'Luxe' in France accounts for an annual turnover of 35 billion euros. Despite today's tough times there may be a job for you. Check out the transnational recruitment Web site Be The 1.

Riviera Life

The Café Metropole Club's member number one is offering a furnished three-bedroom villa on the French Riviera for rent. It has a swimming, pool wood-burning fireplace, ADSL for Internet, satellite TV, a two-car garage and an automatic gate. It is located in Biot, only ten minutes from shopping in Antibes, and a mere twenty minute drive from the airport at Nice. Italy is also handy. Update - Heather says the house has been rented, so its URL has been deleted from this note.

Metropole's 'Partners'

Metropole's .COM area is handily gathered on the relatively new 'Partner' page. Occasionally this page will feature exclusive offers, only available to Metropole readers. Check out this page every week, if for no other reason than the 'Photo of the Week,' which it will only be on view for one week.

Metropole's long-time affiliates are on this page too. The Café Metropole wine is also on it, with a link to its own permanent About Wine page. Both pages can be accessed from the blurbs on the left, and sometimes right-hand columns, on many pages.

The Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine can now be ordered online directly from the Moonlight Web site. This is thanks to Allan Pangborn, its maker, Metropole reader and Cafe Metropole Club member.

Metropole's 'mailto:' Change

The new email address for 'Ric,' 'Ed,' and the Café Metropole Club's secretary has become ericksonr@wanadoo.fr. It may not be snappy, but most of the time all you need to do is click it wherever you see my name, and a ready-to-go email form pops up.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Click this link slightly lightly to have a look at last week's "It's a two dog day" club 'report.' There was another good turnout, mainly because last Thursday was the first day sort of like early fall in Paris, and it was glorious.photo: sitters, shadows, tuileries

A few of other unimportant details concerning the club can be found tidily grouped on the 'About the Club' page, because there aren't more than a couple. The virtual club membership card on this page continues to be available for free.

Sitters in the Tuileries, not yet dozing.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 11. September. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint-Adelphe. This saint is unknown to my saints book. It is not a place in France either, nor, apparently, anyplace else. As a plural form, 'Les Adelphes' - it was the French name for a comedy by Terrance - 160 BC - which inspired Molière quite a bit later for 'L'Ecole des Maris.'

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 7.37 - 9. Sept 2002 - The Café Metropole column headline asked, 'Any Peniches for Rent?' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'The Paperless.' The feature of the week was absent, again, for several reasons. The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 12. September had the "He Eats French Dog Food" report. Thephoto: sign, rue mararine Scene column's title was 'Try and Take a Pick for September, October.' There were four nifty new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon exclaimed, "No Kids, No Dogs!'"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.37 - 10. Sept 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column's 'Café Life' Takes a Beating.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'BLACK TUESDAY on 11. September.' The the weekly feature was titled, 'You Can Look for the Bièvre.' A week earlier it was 'Looking for Clichy.' The update for the Café Metropole Club's meeting on 13. September was titled 'A Trashy But Worthless' report. The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Hello! Fall Season.' There were four new autumnal 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' was captioned, "Café Time Is Over!"

The Historical Countdown Corner

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Prosper Mérimée is coming soon, a week after the Journées du Patrimoine weekend. Until Prosper's day, only Greco-Roman architecture, even in ruins, was considered to have any value. He was the Inspecteur Général des Monuments between 1834 and 1859 and realized the crumbling historical sites had to be saved from Baron Haussmann's renovations. During his tenure he succeeded in creating the first legislation in the world for the protectionphoto: sign, defense d'afficher of historical monuments, thus becoming the father of 'le patrimoine français.'

Prosper Mérimée was also a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He wrote Carmen, which was made into an opera by Bizet in 1869. In his spare time he studied law, Greek, Spanish, English and Russian and translated many works into French. Prosper was born in Paris on Wednesday, 28. September 1803. He died in Cannes on Friday, 23. September 1870 after a somewhat busy life. His anniversary is 21 days from now.>/P>

Besides the new 'countdown' provided by Jim Auman above, we still have the his 'countdown' for Saturday, 11. October which marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Edith Piaf. The date to remember is 34 days from today.

The number of days left this year is 114. There is no more than this left of 2004! In next to no time at all we'll be standing elbow to elbow in front of department store windows decorated for Christmas, if we survive the upcoming 'Nuit Blanche' in October.
signature, regards, ric

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