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Libération!

photo: cafe jean bart

After the Libération excitement, a bit of snoozing.

The Paris Version

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 30. August 2004:– Today's weather forecast can be short because the Atlantic Ocean is going to be on its best behavior for the rest of the week. No activity out there means that natural heatwaves arising in Africa can float up here.

For tomorrow we are supposed to expect a few clouds in the morning giving way to fewer clouds in the afternoon and maybe fewer yet at night when we can't see them anyway. Today's temperature isn't warm so tomorrow will start off from 12 degrees, to maybe wind up with 22 degrees in the afternoon. It will be low for the time of year, but not terribly shabby.

Eighty–five percent true–blue skies are predicted for Wednesday and this will allow the temperature to creep up another degree, to 23. Thursday is foreseen as having a slightly less blue sky, but it should be sunny all–over, with the temperature inching up another notch to 24.

How likely is this unusual forecast? Well, the TV–weather lady actually closed her show by adding that a lot of sunshine is expected for Friday and the coming weekend, and the temperatures may even get warmer. Or maybe she said they would be 'good.'

Café Life

Libération's Big Show

The entry of the French 2nd Armored Division was re–enacted on Wednesday in front of the Mairie of the 14th arrondissement. There were Parisians costumed in WWII French and US uniforms,photo: liberation convoy and as civilians were dressed in 1944. There were scout motorcycles, jeeps, army trucks, a DUK, a half- track with four Brownings, plus some FFI cars, a firetruck and some old Renaults and Citrœns.

Part of last Wednesday's Libération convoy.

There was a popular band on a flat-deck and a marching band on the city hall steps. Stage producer Jérôme Savary, responsible for the evening's big dance show at the Bastille – and for organizing 1944–era dance lessons using the Hotel de Ville ballroom as a rehearsal hall – was on hand to say a few words mangled by a defective sound system. Girls in school uniforms sang a popular air of the times, and Parisians in their costumes danced, with flags fluttering.

Just as rain began to fall heavily the motorcycles were fired up, to lead the rag-tag parade out of the place and over to the Avenue Leclerc, to make the run northwards to the city centre. The rain that drenched me had almost stopped by the time the colorful parade reached the Place Denfert– Rochereau, less than 500 metres away.

This place, named for a hero of the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian conflict, was partially renamed for Col. Henri Rol–Tanguy, leader of the FFI resistance fighters. The Paris headquarters were located in the underground catacombs which have their public entry here.

The parade stalled by accident orphoto: liberation parade, rider design around the lion statue at Denfert– Rochereau, enabling more Parisians to show off their recently acquired jitterbugging skills. Even with the rain the crowd showed an abandoned gaiety, making it a good memory of the past.

Pretty riders, just as in 1944.

Later the parade reached the Luxembourg gardens, which were a scene of heavy fighting on Friday, 25. August, 60 years ago. The parade eventually wound through a very crowded Quartier Latin, to the Pont Neuf, and on to Châtelet.

There was a parallel parade, starting from the Place d'Italie. It represented the US Army's 4th Division that had entered Paris in tandem with the French 2nd Armored Division. Originally, it was the unit of the French 2nd led by Billotte that entered Paris here. The American division, led by General Barton, came into Paris more from the east in 1944, and occupied eastern and northern arrondissements.

A spearhead column, led by Captain Dronne, that reached the Hôtel de Ville the preceding evening was almost entirely manned by Spanish Republicans.

Besides a popular 'bal' staged by the French Senat at the Luxembourg Place, there was a solemn ceremony of remembrance at the Hotel de Ville. According to Wednesday's papers there was to have been a modern military display of some sort in the Place de la Concorde. Thursday's paper said mayor Bertrand Delanoë prayed for the rain to cease and Jérôme Savary sang 'Singing In the Rain' on the Pont Neuf.

The stage show conceived by Savary for the Bastille on Wednesday evening was also followed by a popular 'bal' there, but the weather wasn't cooperative and only 40,000 turned out for it. Live TV coverage began just after midnight, perhaps recapping the day's festivities.

Unlike the formal military parades on 14. July and 11. November, all Parisians were invited to take part in Wednesday's parades and dances. And this is what Parisians did, many dressed in '40s–style costumes and some home–made dresses made from flags. When it wasn't raining, it was very colorful and decidedly carefree.

Extraordinary Open House

poster: journees patrimoine 2004Each year around this time France stages an 'open house' weekend to show off its treasures, some of which are not normally open to the public. This year the weekend falls on 18–19. September. But the mostly free event is popular, lines can be long, and some locations require reservations. For a list of all the 'open doors' try the Journées du Patrimoine Web site. Find details on the right side of the screen. Beginning on Monday, 13. September, reservations can also be made at the Kiosque d'Information located in the garden of the Palais–Royal. For just one example, the Métro's operator, the RATP, has a program involving about two dozen events or sites, including rides on the 'Sprague' Métro trains.

Headline of the Week

"LE CHOC" was on Le Parisien's front page last Thursday. The big news as all return to work after holidays often spent in crummy weather is that the 35–hour work week is in danger of being tossed out in favor of employers who like nothing more than getting extra work for less.

For the moment the governmentphoto: liberation crowd has put the '35–hours' up for discussion. Even the most moderate union thought it was a settled issue, but the employers' confederation is just as hostile to the measure as ever.

A small part of the crowd at the Mairie of the 14th arrondissement.

Below LE CHOC headline Le Parisien ran a half–page color photo of Wednesday's 'Libération' festivities. With flags flying, military uniforms and helmets and a lot of happy people, it kind of looked like the successful end of a popular revolution.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Even though August is almost gone you can find the latest 'Bring Your Own Bottle' report still online. Members Nancy Macklin and Tony Wall entertained each other with Nancy giving Tony all her tips about where to find take–away wine and three–course meals for 7€.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 2. September. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Ingrid. She was the granddaughter of King Knut of Sweden. On becoming a widow she went on a tour to the holy land and on her return via Rome gained the Pope's authorization to found a Dominican convent. She died a year after the convent was inaugurated in 1282, possibly in Skänninge.

More minor facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks a thousand times better online than printed, but is free. The club membership itself is worthwhile, even if it's free too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.36 – 1. Sept 2003 – this 'rentrée' issue had the Café Metropole column's 'Ne Ratez Pas Mars!' The 'Au Bistro' column news was shorter than the headline, with '3–Word News – RAIN in Paris!' This issue's feature was titled 'Plucky Henri IV – France's First, Best Bourbon.' Laurel Avery's 'Paris Life' was titled 'Jam Goo and Garden Dirt.' The Scène column was a carryover. The Café Metropole Club update for 4. September wasphoto: signs, denfert, tanguy rol called, "It's a Two Dog Day" report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption of Ric's cartoon of the week was "We're Taking the Train!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.36 – 2. Sept 2002 – The title for the Café Metropole column was 'Resigned From Weather.' The headline for the 'Au Bistro' column was 'Amélie's Café Changes Hands.' The Scène column's lame title was also a carryover, of 'Issue 7.34's Repeats.' The Café Metropole Club update for 5. September ran with the headline of 'Illegal Parking Is Back' report. There were four back–to–school type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Still Here!?!"

A Countdown Minus 7 Days

Only 10 days from today will be the occasion of the 500th birthday of the erection of Michelangelo's colossal statue of the biblical David in the Piazza Signoria, in the centre of Florence.

On that Thursday, 8. September in long–ago 1504 all was not rosy because Florentines took a violent exception to the monumental work, and threw rocks at it. In just over a week there will be a big birthday party, from Friday, 10. to Tuesday,14. September, to celebrate the statue's survival. Florentines are looking forward to seeing the latest results of the umpteenth restoration, because they've changed their minds about it.

Today's 'Birthday of the Week'

Actually there are several important birthdays to celebrate today. Jacques Necker was born on this day in 1732. Antoine Bourdelle in 1861 and Paul Valéry in 1871, were both born on 30. October. If we want to wait until 30. November, we can celebrate Grégoire de Tours' birthday. He was born in 539. His 'Saint's day' would be 17. November, if he hadn't been usurped by Sainte–Elizabeth.

This idea isn't turning out so well. This is the 19th anniversary of the death of Simone Signoret as well as the day, inphoto: sign, mosiac, pont des arts 1399, when Henry Tudor became King of England. He was also known as Henry Bolingbroke because he was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire. It is also a birthday for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who was born in 1797. We can thank her for giving us 'Frankenstein.' Now that I've found my lost notes for Simone Signoret, I see they are too long.

Her first film seems to have been 'Boléro,' which was released in 1942. Her last films were both from 1982, and they were 'Guy de Maupassant' and 'L'Etoile du Nord.' In all, Simone Signoret played in 64 films. She won an Academy Award in 1960 for 'Room At the Top.'

What Is This?

There are only 123 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left' as at this time in August of 1748, when Jacques–Louis David was born somewhere in France, I think. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 243 days, the same number that 420 had when Saint–Jérôme finished a very busy life. It is, however, not his 'Saint's Day' today.
signature, regards, ric

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