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Talk of the Tour

photo: group, kathy, Lindsay, mark, diane

The 'Group of the Week,' starring Kathy, Lindsay,
Mark and Diane.

''My First Macaroon''

Paris:– Thursday, 8. July 2004:– Something very strange – for July – has happened to the weather. Just as France is supposed to be getting ready for a horrible heat wave, we have a freaky Atlantic storm battering the country – wrecking the peach crop and making life damp for holidayers supposed to be gamboling in caravans.

It is not pleasant for the bicycle riders competing in this year's Tour de France either, and is just as miserable for the millions of fans turning out to watch their heros trying to ride past on the rain–slicked roads. Many riders are ending up beached in mucky ditches.

To make matters worse, TV's weather news is falling down on the job. Tonight's forecast for the next three days concentrated itself on Friday, and left viewers in the lurch for the weekend. Who knows what's coming? Is it so bad that it's better not to tell us?

The main features of tomorrow's weather will be clouds, rain, winds, fleeting sunny periods, clouds, and more rain. The orange weather alert is less than what it was on Wednesday, but is still in place for three departments up in the Alps.

Meanwhile, down here on the flatlands, we can expect more of the breezes we've been having for the pastphoto: la corona terrace couple of days. These will bring a variety of weather, none of it better than crummy. Low temperatures are expected too, with Friday's high in Paris to be no more than 17 degrees.

The gloomy terrace of the week.

This morning's Le Parisien has a bit more courage concerning the weekend even if the news isn't very positive for this part of France. The following front that pokes into Brittany sometime on Friday will sweep east, perhaps keeping Paris covered with clouds full of rain. Temperatures may rise a bit to as much as 20 degrees, which is well short of 'normal for this time of year.'

To be absolutely candid, we never have summer weather that is 'normal for this time of year.' There is no such thing. There never was. There probably never will be. Whoever made it up, made a joke.

Another Simple 'Club Report of the Week'

My precautions for stormy weather consisted of putting my winter cap, my reading glasses and something to read, in my bag before starting out for the club today. On the way I even considered that I should have packed an umbrella too, but I gave up on these years ago. Besides, it was windy again.

Sure enough, halfway to the Métro, it started to pour. It doesn't usually do this for long, but if it does it hard enough for five or ten minutes, you can have a pretty damp ride underground.

On getting to Châtelet, the Rue de Rivoli was between showers but still breezy – meaning I could get soaked again on the rest of the way to the club. I considered the route with awnings for cover, and then chanced the quicker open sky route instead.

Nobody was sitting outside on La Corona's two terraces when I arrived. There weren't even a lot of strollersphoto: cafe of the week around. A lot of them were in the café, stalling. Stretching out their lunches, or having second lunches. There's no limit to how many lunches it's possible to have during a rainy afternoon.

Swimming pool of 'Café of the Week.'

So, the 'Waiter of the Week' in the café's 'grande salle' was happy. He showed no displeasure when I said I would order something later. He thought I meant that he should check the level of onion soup in the pot.

I looked around and saw that all the lights were on in the club's area. A good thing because on cloudy summer days it's darker in the 'grande salle' than in winter. Even with the lights on, it isn't too bright. Reminds me of camp – of sitting in a soggy tent waiting for the rain to stop, or slow down.

Today's first new member arrives too soon for me to glance at my reading material. This is Diane Chase, from Davis, California. Davis is close to Sacramento and is home town to the University of California's wine unit. This town had something to do with Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc, so it becomes the 'City of the Week.'

Diane tells me she rode a bicycle around Provence for a week and then took a holiday from it in Cassis, because it's close to Marseille. I remember Cassis in the rain in 1976. I've never been back.

Then Diane went up north to see the Tour de France, in the rain, and returned to Paris today. She saw Lance Armstrong pass in Amiens this morning, and heard that he got his yellow shirt. Yesterday she saw the end of a day's stage. She says it was very exciting, even in the rain.

Kathy Eahry arrives. Everybody should remember member Kathy from March of last year because her home town of Nutley, New Jersey was the 'City of the Week.' Ah, Nutley, how sweet it was! For a week at least.

The next new members to arrive are Lindsay and Mark Hauler. Mark says they are from Atlanta, and more exactly, they live in the Dunwoody part of it. Or near it. Mark has flown over here to meet Lindsay who is returning from a holiday in Tel Aviv.

I am sorry now that Davis is the 'City of the Week.' It deserves it, but Dunwoody is awfully tempting. Maybe next time. Diane says the cathedral in Amiens has a wonderful light show involving its windows, so long as you can stay awake to see it at about 22:45 at this time of year. I never realized that bikes can make people so sleepy, so early.

Lindsay says something about smokey crêperies, or smoke in crêperies, but myphoto: diable menthe of the week note doesn't say whether the offenders are in Tel Aviv or in Paris. But it does remind me to wonder if any crêperies ever have maple syrup.

Before any of the experts present can supply an answer, Lindsay says the next thing she and her dad are going to see in Paris is Amsterdam. I am pretty sure crêperies in Amsterdam are smokier than in Paris. Oh. Their flight back to Atlanta leaves from the terminal in Amsterdam, not Roissy.

Dangerously green 'Diable of the Week.'

Mark wants to know about the purpose of the big construction at Concorde. Before I can say I don't know anything about it, everybody else guesses it will be the reviewing stand for the parade next Wednesday, on Bastille Day.

Continued on page 2...
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