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Café Life In 117 Words

photo: brasserie du metro

Where in Paris, one short block from Rivoli?

'On Holiday' Not Two of Them

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 26. April 2004:– I am starting to worry about the weather. There are some normal days when it is cool and cloudy and other days when it rains a bit – but there are very few days when it does both all day long. I am not too sure what it does at nights when everything is quite dark.

The part of the weather I worry about are the other days – roughly about half of them lately – that are neither cool nor cloudy nor rainy – the days that are positively sunny and warm. I don't remember so many of them since 1976, when it got sunny in mid–May and stayed that way until I went on holidays at the beginning of September.

It is certainly not mid–May yet. It is still possible that March weather will resume then and stay with us all summer. It has happened often enough in the past.

Last Thursday's weather forecast of total overcast with rain was completely wrong. Friday's weather was great. So was Saturday's, Sunday's and today's. Not just lots of light, but warm too. Early visitors in Paris are getting a rare treat – a long weekend of good weather.

The last day of this cycle will likely be tomorrow, which should be mostly sunny, and with a forecast high of 23 degrees, quite warm too. But there's a low front moving in from the west which should be over Paris by Wednesday – but maybe with a bit of leftover sunshine in the morning.

The temperatures will dip a bit to 20 degrees for Wednesday and Thursday. I'm not sure what is supposed to happen to the low–pressure system from the west, because tonight's TV–weather news suggested Thursday will be mostly sunny.

This morning's forecast in Le Parisien has pretty cloudy skies with rain as a prediction for Thursday and Friday. The paper's temperatures are four degrees less than tonight's TV prediction too. Maybe just a bit below 'normal' for the time of the year.

It isn't helpful to have two different forecasts here, but these are what I have to offer. Forecasting–wise, it'll be hard for the weather news here to be wrong.

Café Life

An Entire Week of Life In 117 Words

This can be summed up in very briefly, much in contrast to the rest of this column. Your 'Ed' is in dire straits.photo: chestnut trees, cafe terrace In itself this is not news because the condition is chronic. However the past week was spent trying to do something about it, rather than trying to keep track of Paris.

A nearby terrace I wasn't on.

The long version of the past week does not include anything amazing or interesting. The really bad news is that this week's new Scène column is not complete either, and getting it done quickly will be in competition with continuing what I was doing last week.

It has been suggested that I say I am 'on holiday,' but I am definitely not.

Winners to be Picked On Thursday

The deadline for entries the great bumper–sticker slogan contest was on Thursday, 22. April. The winners will be chosen during next Thursday's Café Metropole Club meeting, which will be followed by a full 'report' about the winners of the great contest.

Laurel Avery Sighted

The popular 'Paris Journal' columns by Laurel will continue to be interrupted for several more issues while the author is out of town again. Laurel was sighted briefly between 'out–of–towns' last week, and she said she would be back, maybe, "In a couple of weeks."

The Web Site of the Week

This item about Honoré Daumier is here instead of in the wasteland of the 'count–downs' because this famous cartoonist was born on Friday, 26. February 1808 in Marseille and he died, um, almost 71 years later on Friday, 3. January 1879 in Valmondois. As you can see there are no even numbers of 'years ago' here.

But Mayor Bertrand Delanoë will pay a visit at 15:00 to the Père Lachaise cemetery on Wednesday, 19. May, to assist with the cemetery's 200th anniversary.photo: passage de la tour de vanves

This news comes from Lilian and Dieter Noack who have written to say that Daumier's sadly neglected plot in Père Lachaise has been cleaned up – the fallen tree was removed at last – even though the tombstone and the surrounding chain are still in a sorry state after 125 years. Lilian and Dieter hope the mayor will lend a hand with the Daumier grave restoration project.

The best time of year – greens are fresh and so is the warm sky.

Even if you are not directly concerned, you can still take a look at one of the most ambitious Web sites devoted to Honoré Daumier. It features reproductions of many rare prints seldom seen anywhere else. You can also see photos of the neglected grave in Père Lachaise.

Headline of the Week

'Le grand défi de la 407' – is last Thursday's headline on Le Parisien's front page, accompanied by a large photo of a red car with a 1970's type grill. The big news is that this is Peugeot's new family–sized sedan, which replaces the preceding '406,' '405,' '404,' and maybe some even older '402' models if you go back far enough in time to Rétromobile days.

The only ones I've seen since the new model's intro on Thursday have been in TV commercials. But I definitely have seen the grille form before – it was on a revised 406 coupé going down the street that I thought looked a bit odd.

If I am not mistaken, the new car has the standard low snout streaming into a very sloped–back windshield, and a short, high rear end, as if the people up front cannot enjoy a car with less trunk volume than a Mercedes limo. Peugeot, I must say, can do this styling thing with considerably more harmony than most other car manufacturers.

German car magazines will give it a couple of points less than Audi, BMW and smaller Mercs, and French car magazines will compare it well with VW's Passat, Citroën's C5 and Opel's Vectra, with perhaps a couple of points extra. In France the 407 starts out with a 116 hp engine at 19,500€ and goes up to 33,200€. The new car weighs several hundred kilos more than the car it replaces, so it might seem a bit sluggish with the smallest motor.

The Most Recent Café Metropole Club 'Report'

If you have absolutely nothing better to do take a look at the last meeting's version of the 'Hoboken of Germany' Is True 'First' report. A statement like this could only have been made by a club member that knows both places better than the rest of us.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club is on Thursday, 29. April. The Saint's Day of the Week will bephoto: terrace cafe la corona Sainte–Catherine de Sienne. This week there are several Sainte–Catherines but only one of Sienna. She was famous for being ecstatic and making revelations, and died in 1380 after convincing Pope Gregory XI to move from Avignon to Rome.

The café where the contest winners will be chosen next Thursday.

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

Shameless Plugs are Back

The usual plugs encouraging 'support for this magazine' and its 'Lodging' page are quietly waiting for you to visit them. The commercial page for Metropole's 'Partners' needs an occasional re–read too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.18/19 – 28. Apr/5. May 2003 – this double–issue began with Café Life's 'Ton Amie, Mabutu Mosa,' after the Café Metropole column's 'Bagdad Café Makes Comeback.' There was no 'Au Bistro' column in any words. The single feature was titled 'Looking for 'Typical' in Paris' 'Business District.' The Scène column was was titled 'Cops and Image Hunters, From Maigret to Cartier–Bresson.' The Café Metropole Club update for 1. May was titled the 'First Country 'City of the Week' report and the meeting for 8. May resulted in the 'Somebody'sphoto: sign, square delambre Swedish Grandmother' report. There were six new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned 'World Premiere Sandwich.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.18 – 29. April 2002 – this week's Café Metropole column was not exciting so it had 'Intermission, to Meet Flat Stanley' as as picker–upper. The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Back To the Past.' The Café Metropole Club update on 2. May was titled, the "Why I'm In a Good Mood" report. The Scène column's headline was 'May's 'Bridges' – As In Olden Times.' There were four pretty neat 'Posters of the Week,' and Ric's cartoon Caption of the Week was, 'Vote Like That.'

Another Repeat of the 'Countdowns – Repeated!'

Luckily I have mislaid the 'old' countdowns, except two, from Jim Auman. He wrote to remind us all that the Père Lachaise cemetery is having the 200th anniversary of its opening, on Friday, 21. May. This is 26 days from now. This doesn't coincide with the 'Web site' date above, but what the heck!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sad death of Frédéric– August Bartholdi, the designer of the Stature of Liberty. His death occurred on Tuesday, 4. October. This anniversary is 162 days from now.

For a major literary dude, we can also be 'counting–down' to the 150th anniversary of the birthdatephoto: door, cemetery montparnasse of Jean–Nicolas–Arthur Rimbaud, which is on Wednesday, 20. October, 178 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 week will officially be the 'Année George Sand' all year long. The anniversary is 64 days from today.

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 42 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. August 1944, which will be celebrated 119 days from today. 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, but not in August, usually.

After getting hired flunkies to vote in favor of inventing the title of 'Emperor' for Napoleon on 3. May 1804, the Senat passed the measure without quibbling. A plebiscite was held and 2569 reckless souls in all of France voted against it. The coronation took place on Sunday, 2. December.

Part of the official record is David's painting of it. David, whose first name was Louis, also added his own inlaws who were not there because they were uninvited, and Napoleon's mom, who was sulking in Italy at the time. The 200th anniversary of this dubious event is 221 days from now. David, meanwhile, died in 1825, possibly in exile.

Last Week's Only New 'Countdown of the Week' Is Dubious

Jim 'Countdown' Auman writes, "March 31 or April 1 marked the 800th anniversary of the death of Aliénor d'Aquitaine – Eleanor of Aquitaine – in 1204. The dates are aphoto: sign, stationnement genant bit uncertain because they had to be translated from Early Medieval Sundial or Late Dark Ages Sand Clock – sundials were notoriously unreliable in the Dark Ages. She was buried in the abbey of Fontevraud next to her husband, Henry II. The abbey will host various cultural events this year concerning Aliénor and her times." About 800 years ago, even within a sundial day, is dubious.

If you should happen to look at a map of France at the end of the 12th century, most of it – much of the centre and all of the west – was under British control. Eleanor was born in 1137 and was 67 when she died. France did not get control of Aquitaine until 1453.

2004 is On Its Way Out

That this year will be worth remembering, is questionable. The most we can do is hope it isn't. As of today there are 249 more days left in it. 'Ric's Day Off' last week was also as completely unremarkable as the one the week before, so that it isn't worth mentioning a week later, now.
signature, regards, ric

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