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The 1812 Overture

photo: 2nd last day paris plage

The 2nd last day on Paris Plage this year, before the rain.

Tchaikovsky Rolled Over

Paris:– Thursday, 19. August 2004:– More rain has fallen in the past 48 hours than during a whole month of August in – and it is this 'in' or 'where' that I neglected to note. Was it here or was it down south somewhere?

Yesterday afternoon around 15:00 the sky opened up like bomb–bay doors and dumped a lot of moisture on the city, and with gusty winds it swept the sidewalks and streets of Paris like the whole city was being dragged through a car wash. 'Where did you wait for it to be over?' – was a question heard more than once today.

Today's replay is mentioned below, but you'll probably be more interested here in the outlook for tomorrow. From the looks of Le Parisien's weather map and from deductions made based on the TV–weather news tonight, it looks like more of the same is expected – but without there being an explicit storm warning at this time.

Considerable winds are expected to be blowing out of the Atlantic from the southwest. These were predicted to be violent, but in Paris should be no more than 60 kph at times.

In the morning there may be some timid outbreaks of sunshine but as the day wears on these will become rare. If the pattern of the last two days holds, sometime in the afternoon the clouds will close ranks and dump more rain here. The high temperature is expected to be a cool 22 degrees.

There must be a change coming because no winds are forecast for Saturday, and it may even be mostly sunny for most of the time. The high temperature of a predicted 20 degrees may cause some sneezing though. It won't be 'about right' for the time of year.

On Sunday the southern half of France is supposed to be honestly sunny, while our part of the country will have a thin screen of clouds between the sky and the earth – maybe allowing it to be weakly sunny. Besides this bit of positive news, the temperature may also creep back up a bit, to 23 degrees.

Tempest On Paris Plage

City services were watching the weather closely yesterday so that they were able to close Paris' riverside 'beach' andphoto: corona terrace urge about 7000 beach fans to take cover elsewhere before winds with gusts of up to 100 kph hit. It took 40 minutes for the operation, which also involved dismantling everything that might have become airborne.

As well as closing the city's Seine side boardwalk, all parks and cemeteries were also closed for the duration of the level 3 alert, which lasted until midnight. 'Bois' fans were also asked to avoid the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes.

According to Météo–France this weather was the tail–end of the hurricane Bonnie. Apparently if a hurricane gets far enough north, it can get picked up by generally westerly Atlantic currents.

These are huge things and yesterday's blow battered coastal regions of Languedoc, touching the Rhône estuary and the regions of the Vaucluse and Gard. Then many other parts of France got a taste of it. Inland roofs were ripped away and some campsites were totally destroyed.

On beaches, despite the display of no–swimming red warning flags and efforts of lifeguards, many bathers attempted to play with the waves. The price was high with nine drownings and two others reported missing. Today police have been on the beaches in force to prevent new dramas.

Apparently these storms are partly caused by late summer's higher temperatures in the ocean and the Mediterranean. Overheated, the seas have excess energy which have a multiplier effect on storm fronts.

The '1812 Overture' Club Report of the Week

To take what may be a final glance at Paris Plage I leave the Métro today at the Cité station, to find myself confronted with a display of 'Libération 1944' vehicles parked outside the Préfecture de Police.

Today marks the anniversary of the day in 1944 when the bulk of Paris police showed up for work inphoto: liberation, prefecture civilian clothes, to designate that they were no longer taking orders from Vichy superiors. 'Leave your uniform at home and bring your gun,' was the word. It wasn't clear who gave it

At the préfecture today.

At 8:00 in the morning, 3000 officers took over the police headquarters, first by assembling in the courtyard and singing the Marseillaise.' When Ile–de–France FFI leader Rol–Tanguy passed by chance and saw what was going on he tried to enter the building but wasn't allowed in.

He left to get his FFI uniform and when he returned everything was okay, and the insurrection got under way under his command – although underarmed FFI units had started earlier in the morning in the 1st and 13th arrondissements.

However, I have missed today's noon ceremony marking the occasion, so I am free to inspect Paris Plage on its second–last day. While I do so the sun is shining over the city while masses of clouds lurk on the horizons. There is a fair breeze and the blue sails are snapping.

Ceremonial crowd barricades have been placed all over, so getting around is a bit of an obstacle course. Ah, yes, it's an anniversary for barricades too. Parisians erected hundreds of them from 21–25. August 1944.

The scene is calm at the club's café La Corona when I arrive and I have the entire club area to myself. The week's new 'Waiter of the Week' arrives promptly to take my order onlyto be asked to return later.


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