horz line

Below Par

photo: cafe, au vrai paris, rain

Real rain in real Paris on Saturday.

Good Bread News

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 10. May 2004:– The weather forecast last Thursday seriously underestimated the weather that was actually in store for us, and I am sorry to have passed it on in good faith. If I recall, I summed it up in a short paragraph as being 'partly sunny.'

This was wrong wrong wrong. It was not even a tiny bit sunny. It was cloudy all the time except for the times when it was windy and it was raining fairly hard. The temperatures tanked too. They were so low they were low for early March and about right in the pits for February too.

It snowed quite a bit in the Alps. It wasn't totally unusual but it surprised some people. In truth, it was ghastly. I was our fault. We deserved it. We didn't show how happy we should have been with the wonderful weather we had.

Now I am wary. I don't know if I can trust the TV–weather news. When it's wrong it's usually making worse predictions than what actually happens. Last Thursday was a major switcheroo.

photo: pont des artsI will pat the club's mascot three times for luck. Ol' hound dog says, with a little help from the TV–weather news, that we should expect a cloudy morning tomorrow. Afterwards it might be partly sunny. I pat the club's mascot again.

Are there rays of sun in the future?

Wednesday should be partly sunny all day. Thursday may be partly sunny too, if the low pressure system moves east smartly. If it is slow to arrive, then things might not be too bright.

The really good news is about the temperatures. We are supposed to be getting out of the pit of having highs of between 10 and 13 degrees. The low tonight should by nine, and afterwards it should shoot up to 18 degrees. And here it is expected to stay, with possibly a slight dip on Thursday. Next weekend may even be reasonable – for Paris, for 'the time of year.'

Café Life

'Ed' Below Par

I am not making par this week. I am below par. The weather was way below par. I won't say Paris was less than par this past week, but my interest in it was. I think I'll go to my doctor and ask her if she has any 'above par' meds. The biggest problem with my doctor is she is always on time for appointments.

My par is sinking just thinking about all the new and interesting magazines she has in her waiting room. Being on time means I won't get a chance to read any of them for free unless I go early. Oh well, tomorrow is 'Ric's Day Off,' and I always go to the free library and read magazines there. Sometimes they have new ones that are above par. Maybe one of them will pull up my par.

Bread Life

Steven Kaplan created a major stir in France last week when his book 'Cherchez le Pain' came to the bookshelves. French media was amazed to find that an American had taken the trouble to find out more about a Parisian's daily bread than any French author.

Even more amazing, in TV interviews Steven Kaplan sounded almost French. However it was mentioned that Professorphoto: merry go round Kaplan had visited Paris many times, and for this new book had visited 600 boulangeries in the city and tasted their baguettes – at up to 20 boulangeries per day.

A merry–go–round with only pigeons for customers.

This has resulted in a guide to Parisian boulangeries, with the top 100 presented. According to AFP, the bread–eating professor is particularly proud to be the author of the 'first guide that tells bread's story.' He is, in fact, also the author of an earlier work titled, 'The Bakers of Paris and the Bread Question, 1700-1775.'

In this he traces how bread was made and sold, who did it, and how bakers and their families interacted with their customers, and the authorities. It is a scholarly work of history, while the new book is based on what a baguette is today and how it came to be the way it is.

Until a decree of 'appellation contrôlée' made in 1993, bread in Paris was headed for white 'wonderland.' The decree stipulated that a baguette had to comply with a set precise rules, including the prohibition against any additives. Another rule is that a baker cannot have a sign signalling 'artisan boulangerie' unless the bread is made on the bakery's premises.

In the book, the author explains that one should approach bread with all of the five senses. It has to look right, sound right, in addition to tasting right, smelling right and having the right texture and feel. It's a lot to hope for, for 80 centimes – and the professor is indignant when boulangeries try to demand 1.70€ for one.

The highest–rated boulangeries were two establishments in the Rue Monge, run by the competitors Eric Kayser and Dominique Saibron. They both received 18.35 points out of 20. Also highly regarded are Jean–Noël Julien and Philippe Gosselin, both in the Rue Saint–Honoré, and the lesser–known Frédéric Lalos of 'Le Quartier du Pain' in the 15th arrondissement.

In a TV–interview he slammed restaurants with fancy food and lousy baguettes. He also took a swipe at school cantines that didn't bother trying to get acceptable bread for their young scholars.

Without sounding like a fanatic, Steven Kaplan managed to give Parisians the idea that they have access to France's best bakeries, and the worst. Unlike in many rural parts of France, Parisians have a choice.

No Tourist HQ this Summer

After 33 years on the Champs–Elysées the Paris Tourist Office closed its doors at the end of the year, in the hopes of moving into its new location at 25. Rue des Pyramides in March, then April, then June.

According to Le Parisien, the city optedphoto: concorde fountain for a snazzier renovation, and this had to be approved by the Ministry of Culture – which has taken some time. The result is a new opening date, possibly in October.

Besides deploring the absence of a central reception for visitors, Paris hotel keepers are annoyed with a rise in the room tax, which has increased by 20 percent. This tax brings the city 23 million euros of revenue per year.

More water here last week.

Professionals do not think the Tourist Office's new logo will substitute for the lack of a tourist headquarters. Instead they hope that the 170 'Welcome Ambassadors' slated to resume their activities in June, will make up the difference.

After a security inspection, the top of the Grande Arche at La Défense has been allowed to reopen. Visitors can get a great view again, daily, from 10:00 to 20:00.

Laurel Avery Still Missing

The popular 'Paris Journal' columns by Laurel are still interrupted and may continue to be so for several more issues while the author is out of town again. Laurel was sighted briefly between 'out–of–towns' a few weeks ago, and she said she would be back, maybe, sometime.

The Web Site of the Week – Club France

Take advantage of the special VIP welcome reserved for Club France membersgraphic: CarteAdherent, club france at many fine hotels and restaurants, where you may get year–round discounts of up to 50 percent.

Try Club France for access to special promotional offers, bonuses and upgrades, and you will receive favored treatment from museums, tour companies, rail carriers, car rental agencies, and sporting facilities – as well as exceptional offers from over 1500 French tourism professionals. The Club France card is valid for you and up to five family members traveling together. With prices the way they are, you might save the modest price of a Club France card in one day here.

Past, Present and Future

The American Club of Paris has roots going back to Benjamin Franklin's time in Paris. Historically, this year it is celebrating its centennial, and doing it with a day–long symposium featuring acknowledged experts who will be talking about political, historical, cultural and economic aspects of Franco–American relations.

The symposium is divided into morning and afternoon sessions, and will be followed by a black–tie gala dinner, at which Dr. Bernard Kouchner, former UN administrator for Kosovo and former French Minister of Health, will be the keynote speaker.

The event will take place on Friday, 14. May, under the joint patronage of the Hon. Howard Leach, US Ambassador to France, and the Hon. Jean–David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the United States.

The symposium will be held in the auditorium of the Maison du Barreau, opposite the Place Dauphine, 2–4. Rue Harlay, Paris 1. Métro; Saint–Michel, Cité or Pont–Neuf. More information and reservations for this event can be found on the Web site of the American Club or telephone either 01 42 38 00 89 or 01 49 10 06 22.Headlines of the Week

"Consummez!" was at the top of Le Parisien's front page last Wednesday, after the Minister of the Economy told the French it would be patriotic to spend more. There's more to read about on this week's 'Au Bistro' page.

Contest Winners Check In

The winning entries for the great bumper–sticker slogan contest were selected at the Café Metropole Club meeting on Thursday, 29. April. The winners who won are listed on last week's updated contest page. The first prize winner is expected in Paris to receive her prize directly from the organizers. Expect a report about this to be an update on the 'contest' page.

Last Week's Café Metropole Club 'Report'

If you are between periods of doing useful stuff you may have enough free time to take a look at the only versionphoto: fiat 500 of the 'City of the Week' Missing' report. This club meeting was significant for 'No Things of the Week' and no other 'firsts' for anything at all.

The first 'Fiat 500 of the Week' in many weeks.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club is on Thursday, 13. May. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Rolande. This one is another true mystery. I think the club's meeting day should be changed from Thursday, to the day of mystery saints.

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.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.20 – 12. May 2003 – this issue began with Café Metropole's 'Bring Your Own Tapas.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'In 6 Words.' The lone feature was titled 'On a 'Typical' Street no more than Just Average.' The Scène column was titled, 'Choo–Choo Champs–Elysées.' The Café Metropole Club update for 15. May was titled the "We've Just Hung Up Our Sleds!" report. Therephoto: sign, place du louvre were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned, "No Trains to Nantes."

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.20 – 13. May 2002 – this week's Café Metropole column was sporting, with 'Roller Days Are Back.' The 'Au Bistro' column was a no–show, but there was one feature titled, 'Oyster Opener of the Year, at the Foire de Paris.' The Café Metropole Club update on 16. May was headlined as the "Twice As Much Caffeine?" report. The Scène column's title was, 'Wondering What To Do Next?' There were four new 'Posters of the Week,' and Ric's cartoon Caption of the Week urged somebody to 'Get Ideas.'

Back by Popular Request – the 'Countdowns'

Among many other things I have mislaid the 'old' countdowns except for what's here. Jim Auman wrote to remind us all that the Père Lachaise cemetery is having the 200th anniversary of its opening, on Friday, 21. May. This is 12 days from now.

This is 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 148 days from now.

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, 164 days from now.

An even bigger literary hoopla 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 50 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 28 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 105 days from today. The 'Liberation' started on Tuesday, 15. August, with aphoto: sign, rue de rennes strike – by the Métro and the police. Some sporadic strikes still continue, but seldom in August.

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 included his own inlaws in the painting. They were not there because they were uninvited, and neither was Napoleon's mom, who was sulking in Italy at the time. The 200th anniversary of this dubious event is 207 days from now. The 200th anniversary of David's death will be 21 years from now.

2004 is Barely Worth Anything

As of today there are 228 more days left of this year. This is more or less the same number of 'days left' as the same time last year. When anyone writes stuff like this, it means it is time for 'Ric's Day Off' again.
signature, regards, ric

horz line
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini