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It Is Midnight

photo: le rubis, wine bar

Sleeping wine bar afternoon.

Fine Weather Keeps On

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 6. September 2004:– After August's semi–tropical weather with its moderate temperatures and its daily dump of rain it seems kind of odd to be forecasting another week of skies fit for summer and short sleeves.

But it is my duty to be as true about this as I can. I don't have to understand it – just repeat the predictions of Le Parisien and tonight's TV–weather news – strangely confident that what I pass on will come to pass. I don't miss the crummy weather, but this is too good to be exciting.

They say tomorrow, Tuesday, will be bright and clear with blue skies and very tiny white puffs of cloud that will be difficult to see because of the blazing sunshine. If this wasn't bad enough, today's high temperature of 29 degrees will be repeated tomorrow.

Luckily for everybody Wednesday will notphoto: pool, fountain, tuileries be quite so bright. There are supposed to be some high thin clouds that may be too high and thin to see but you will know they are there if the sky's blue won't have the same depth as Tuesday's. The temperature is supposed to dip a bit, to 27 degrees.

For Thursday a repeat of Tuesday's sky has been forecast, except maybe with a brighter blaze of sunshine with bluer skies as a background. Locked right in there, the temperature is supposed to stay nailed to the 27 degree peg.

TV–news also showed some people practicing summer out of season on the Côte d'Azur or the Atlantic. They were gamboling in the waters and lolling around café terraces as if there were no such things as back–to–school or strikes, or taxes, or wet Augusts.

Café Life

It Is Midnight

I didn't intend to write an 'Au Bistro' column for this issue. During the week I have been practicing writing without thinking too hard about it, and about three pieces ended up as essays. I didn't have any other ideas so I rephrased them and stuck them in the 'Au Bistro' column.

As I mention in the weather paragraphs above good weather is coming, and is added to good weather we've had. The winter coats are put away again and the Hawaiian shirts are out. But it seems like the season is out of phase. The crazy drivers are back, being aggressive with each other and we pedestrians have to look out for ourselves again.

But it's pleasant to walk through the city with blue skies overhead rather than gloom. The sun is downphoto: football, tuileries a bit from its June heights and the shadows are tinged with yellow instead of blue–black. The leaves aren't so green, but they started looking burnt at the end of July. They haven't changed much since then.

While it's nice to be out and travelling slowly though the streets and parks, it's also agreeable to be standing in a café with all the windows open, sunlight splashed on the floor, with breezes ruffling the leaves of potted plants, with other unhurried customers having their cool drinks while they fill out their Loto tickets.

Inside is like outside with the difference being that there's a bar inside to lean on, and free newspapers to read if there's enough room to spread them out. One story was about the vast differences in income in Paris, with one lady saying her rent is over 2000€ in Passy and a middle–aged man reporting his salary as being 944€.

All day long in the café people come in and play the Loto, or buy lucky scratch–tickets, or study the racing papers so they can bet on the horses. Also there's some simple loto game on a TV that can be played every five minutes all day long.

I see a lot of the same people all the time, and some of them are playing every game going. I know some study the racing papers all morning before coming to the café, and I also know some of them don't bet on every race. But a lot of the others take every chance on offer.

I guess I'm sharing a café with the idle rich. I can see that betting, especially on the horses, can be work with all the research needed. But all the other games are simple and if you want, the machine will pick the numbers. A lot of cash money passes over the top of it – I guess it's like being in an airy gambling casino that has beer on tap, Kir, sandwiches, and whole meals if you want one.

Maybe what keeps it all going is the post office next door. Even when it's closed its two ATM machines are there to hand out money day and night. Easy come, easy go, headed for one in the morning.

Extraordinary Open House

Each 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&ndash,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.

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