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Is Spring Coming Early?

photo: cafe pharon

A café that is really a tea–house.

Impressions from Out West

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 15. March 2004:– After not having the traditional blazingly bright week in February, there is a normal March happening here. Sometimes it is pretty cool, sometimes it is gray, sometimes there is some wind, and some other times it is the opposite. Forecast high for tomorrow here is 21 degrees, which is about 71 F.

Tonight's TV–weather news guy popped on to the TV screen to say we can expect 'early spring' this week. I wish he hadn't. He should know as well as I do that there lurks just beyond the TV's weather map, Greenland and Siberia.

But while it lasts, I better give you the details. Tomorrow is supposed to start with high clouds that will evaporate into no cloudsphoto: thermometre 11 c in the afternoon, and this fantastic prediction of 21 high solar degrees – thanks to warm air coming from the tropics in the southwest.

For Wednesday we are not supposed to expect any clouds at all – none for all of France. For some reason the high in the afternoon is only expected to be 20 degrees. Leave your umbrellas, mittens and 'muffles' at home.

Saturday's official temperature – 11 degrees.

Then on Thursday, the Atlantic will send us some clouds. If they are slow in arriving it will be another sunny day, but if they arrive sooner than forecast, then the forecast will be normal. Whichever, the high in the afternoon is still supposed to be 19 degrees.

If it works out it really will be a taste of spring, which is slated to arrive officially on Saturday. I have Le Parisien's map with the forecast for Friday. They've left it mostly blank, and tentatively put forward a temperature of 17 degrees.

Café Life

Late Start this Week

The last 't' was dotted and the last 'i' was crossed at 05:00, Tuesday morning Paris time, and I sat here barely able to see nothing happening. Nothing else continued for a while, so I turned everything off, brushed my teeth and went to bed a couple of hours before sunrise.

It's been a long time since the connection to Metropole's server 'timed out.' I am supposed to get anxious about it. All I can think of is it's 'Ric's Day Off.' The weather is gorgeous in Paris. I am going out. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Impressions of the West

Many Parisians do not consider the suburbs surrounding the city to be part of it, and it is possible they do not think of them as France either. Real 'France' is further away, and everybody has a 'home' out there even if they've lived in Paris since 1498.

After living a dozen years 'way out there' and now slightly less than five years within a 15–minute walk of the 'centre of the world' at Vavin, I can barely scrape up the courage to cross the Perifreak! to visit Montrouge on the other side.

But on Saturday I did two things, not quite against my will. I went out west, beyond La Défense, and went to see the 'Old Iron and Ham' antiques fair at Chatou.

When I did live out that way – actually further out – I used to check out the Maison Fournaise on the Ile de Chatou fairly often because it is one of several locations on the 'Chemin des Impressionnistes.'

It is loosely grouped together with Bougival, Carrières–sur–Seine, Croissy–sur–Seine, Port–Marly, Louveciennes,photo: musee maison fournaise Marly–le–Roi and Noisy–le–Roi – and all of these, mostly on or near the Seine, were the good–weather hangouts of the Impressionists.

The Maison Fournaise museum in Chatou.

For example, Alexandre Dumas' Château de Monté–Cristo is in Port–Marly – even if it appears to be in Marly–le–Roi. The 'Impressionist' part of Port–Marly has no museum, just a narrow strip along the riverside, which requires no entry fee or opening and closing times.

Louveciennes calls itself a promenade–museum and it abuts on Port–Marly, or Marly–le–Roi, which doesn't quite make it to the water. There is a Musée Tourgueniev in Bougival, but I've never seen it. It's closed in winter, but may be open on Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00.

All of the places mentioned above are, in the right weather, calmly 'Impressionistic,' but the one that has the year–round and all–weather museum, is the Maison Fournaise on the Ile de Chatou. Vlaminck and Renoir liked it a lot. Monet leaned towards Croissy–sur–Seine, and shared it with Renoir.

They used to go out there, starting in 1869, and they especially liked the Ile de la Grenouillère in the centre of the stream. Renoir painted it in 1869, and moved on to Chatou in 1881, where he did the boaters and the boaters having a picnic.

If you keep your eyes down so that you don't see too much of all the concrete that has been tossed up across the river in Reuil–Malmaison, you can easily imagine Chatou'sphoto: resto fournaise island as being 'Impressionistic.'

It has been a couple of weeks more than five years since I've seen the museum. On Saturday it looked like it had been newly re–painted, but this might have been my impression because of the bright sunlight.

At the opposite end of the museum – the restaurant.

Père Fournaise opened up an auberge here is 1815, which also attracted writers such as Flaubert, Maupassant and Zola, plus other painters, like Whistler, Degas and Derain. The auberge is still attached to the museum, and it has a upper veranda overlooking the river.

This is in a compact compound which contains an atelier for modern engravers, and it has had its own gallery attached to it. For 'old times,' there is also an association called Sequana, that restores the old rowboats and canoes in its boathouse. If you can't visit it, you can look in the wide doorway without bothering anybody.

The new item is the all wood restaurant–chalet built on top of the boathouse. My memory isn't good enough to figure out how this was done, but I believe it was in the planning stage five years ago. The whole thing is called 'La Gare d'Eau.'

The Sequana boat folks also run excursions on the river with their peniche 'Le Dénicheur,' from May to October. They go to the locks at Bougival and back. These trips take place on weekends, but if you have 30 friends I'm sure something during the week can be arranged.

If you haven't the courage to rent a car, then the next best thing is to buy a round–tripposter: salon du livre RER 'A' line ticket to Reuil–Malmaison, and walk west to the Pont de Chatou. You can see the Maison Fournaise from the north side of the bridge and then it is only a short walk. Try to pick any good weather between now and next winter to do it.

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