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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.

La Maison Fournaise – on the Ile des Impressionnistes, also known as the Ile de Chatou. Open Thursday and Friday from 11:00 to 17:00, and on weekends from 11:00 to 18:00. InfoTel.: 01 34 80 63 22.

The Route and the Ile des Impressionnistes has been featured in Metropole before. See A Winter View of the Musée Fournaise, No Floods In Port Marly Today, Pierre Prins – 'L'Ami de Manet' and Modest Boatworks To Become 'Gare d'Eau'.

Headline of the Week

'BOULEVERSÉS' is the single largest word on Le Parisien's front page today. Flanking headlines are 'L'Europe à Peur' and 'L'Espagne Punit Aznar' – which refers to the Socialist Party's decisive win in yesterday's elections. On– the–spot personal experience in Paris' transit system since Friday has not turned up much in the way of 'fear,' nor overt signs of the heightened security levels advertised on TV–news.

The 3rd Semi–Repeat of Regular Plugs in March

Pop this link to a recent issue's 'Café' page, where the usual plugs for 'Support this magazine' and its 'Lodging' page are quietly waiting for you to visit them.

The Last Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Have a look at the last meeting's text and photo version of the "Oh No, It's Raining!" club report. The rain in question lasted only a few minutes. Mostly it rained at 03:14 in the morning.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 18. March. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Mi–Carême. It is not in the Saint's book because it's half–way to Ash Wednesday before Easter, and not a 'Saint' at all but Lent. The 'Mi' isn't explained, and you need not bother to bring any long and pale faces no matter how hungry.

Small, minor details about the club can all be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page is as free as air and valid for your whole lifetime, everywhere in the world.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.12 – 17. Mar 2003 – The Café Metropole column opened this miniscule issue with 'Sunball Days.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'War Reaction in Paris.' The Café Metropole Club update for 20. March was headlined asphoto: sign, vp the 'Nutley of the Week' report. The usual four 'Posters of the Week' appeared and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned "Stayed Too Long?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.12 – 18. March 2002 – The Café Metropole column began with, 'Rain In Paris Is All the News There Is.' This modest issue had one feature titled 'The Art of 'Flânnerie' – Aimlessness As a Paris Sport.' The Café Metropole Club update on 21. March reported the "Heads or Tails?" report. The Scène column's title was 'Circus City.' There were four fairly average 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon caption of the week was, 'Traffic Ringmaster.'

Countdowns – a Come–Back

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Frédéric–August Bartholdi, the designer of the Stature of Liberty. His death occurred on Tuesday, 4. October. This is 204 days from now. Learn more about Bartholdi's life and works by visiting the virtual Musée–Bartholdi, plus the real one as well if you happen to be in France.

For a major literary dude, we can also be 'counting–down' to the 150th anniversary of the birthdate of Jean– Nicolas–Arthur Rimbaud, which is on Wednesday, 20. October, 220 days from now.

An even bigger literary razzle–dazzle will be made this year for George Sand, who was born 200 years ago on Sunday, 1. July 1804. This year will officially be the 'Année George Sand' all year long. For lots more, Cécile Pichot's Web site is worth a visit as is the one run by Marc Nadaux. This 'countdown' lasts 109 days, until 1. July.

The date of the Normandy landings in WWII was on Tuesday, 6. June 1944. The 60th anniversary of this fateful day for 2,846,439 allied liberators is 84 days from now, on a Sunday this year.

Another WWII event 60 years ago to note is the Liberation of Paris. Its official date is Friday, 25. Augustphoto: flag, spain, madrid 11 march 2004 1944, which will be celebrated is 164 days from now. The 'Liberation' started on Tuesday, 15. August, with a strike – by the Métro and the police – followed by more strikes until the shooting was over. Some sporadic strikes still continue.

Some Olympic Fans may be out of their heads with joy to learn that the Olympic flame will be hustled through Paris by a series of torch–bearers on Friday, 25 June – as part of its journey back to Athens for the summer Olympics – which are called 'JO' here. This is only 103 days from today.

Many Paris Commune fans may wish to change their travel plans because Les Amis de la Commune of 1871 will be presenting an exhibition about the Commune from Thursday, 18. March until Thursday, 8. April, which is just about right now. This will be in the Hôtel de Ville, one of the prime locations of the original party.

2004 Is Dribbling Away

Although more than four–score, there are still about 291 days left this year. But all is not lost. Everything in Paris is getting older by the minute, so don't hesitate to plan to visit soon, before everything gets a lot older than it is.

Last week's 'Ric's Day Off' was a huge success in terms of squandered time. I am tempted to say what I would do if I could replay it, but the future – is going to be just too exciting to miss, I guess.
signature, regards, ric

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