horz line

Bees In the Opéra

photo, cafe d'horizon, rue de rennes

Sunday café in the Rue de Rennes.

Ditto Weather Forecast

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 15. November 2004:– After some strange weather with temperatures lower than normal for strange weather, the climate is expected to ease up a notch and present us with weather that is absolutely normal for November, regardless of whether you agree with it.

The 'strange' part was having a fairly bright day followed by an exceedingly gray day followed by a bright day again. What was common for all days was temperatures at ten or below, due to wind from the northwest.

Today, for example, was gray, but with no wind. Tomorrow will be another day in this series, but should be somewhat bright in the afternoon. Wind from the north will keep us cool, with a high predicted of no more than 11 degrees.

Then on Wednesday there will be a bigphoto, cafe la palette change when the wind switches to blowing from the west. While the temperature is forecast to be a scorching 12 degrees – bang–on 'normal for the time of year' – the heaven will be full of gray clouds.

November café in the Quartier Latin.

The same dern outlook faces us for Thursday. Wind ditto, cloud cover ditto, temperature ditto. If you happen to be flying to Paris on Thursday you will be able to tell those left behind that you are expecting splendidly ditto weather in France. Friday may even be ditto–bis, but I hope not.

Café Life

Bees In My Bonnet

As far as I know the newspaper of record, Le Parisien, has not gotten to grips with the important news story about all the bees living in the Opéra. It's almost understandable because Thursday was a holiday reserved for remembering WWI and a certain number of pages were devoted to recounting the exploits of some of the 15 living survivors, who were about 106 and 110 years old. Before he passed on, also on Thursday, Yassir Arafat was 75 years old in Paris too, requiring yet more newsprint.

Oddly, the fact of living through WWI, les années folles, the depression, Communism, WWII, a bunch of other wars, the wall, the dawn of TV and rock'n'roll, the pill, the Twingo, the wall falling, Gulf Wars I and II, as well as about 30 Eurovision Song Conests, and still being alive in 2004 was not, in itself, newsworthy. That one or two of them weren't gaga, was newsworthy, because it was good for a couple of interesting sound–bites.

Bees, even ones that live in opera houses, are not much good for sound– bites. Imagine, there you are in your 180€photo, arches, odeon seat watching 'La Belle au Bois Dormant' – nothing to do with turkeys – or listening to 'Il Trovatore' – by G. Verdi – not a turkey either – and suddenly the view is darkened by a swarm of 250,000 crazed bees, or your hearing is interrupted by furious buzzing – eh? – not too flipping cool!

Dayight secret places in Paris.

Do you seriously think that opera fanatics give a fried fig for the needs of plants on balconies in the romantic 9th arrond– issement? And if they sell the honey from them in the opera Garnier's museum shop, why did it take me three days of research to verify that there is indeed a museum shop in the Palais Garnier? What the dickens is so secret about it? No doubt it is one of Heather's 'Secrets of Paris' and she's got world rights for it.

On the other hand it must be fairly well–known that the city is seriously in the honey business, and the Senat too. Everybody knows where the hives are in the Luxembourg and the bees at Montsouris have the choicest location. You can see their little chalets in parks all over Paris. I wouldn't be alarmed to hear that the Minister of Culture has his own set in the Tuileries somewhere, somewhat closer to the sales area at Fauchon than the Opéra.

What I don't understand is why the AFP story wasn't about PSG beating Olympic Marseille on Wednesday. It's gotta be right up there on the scale of rare events, although the paper says PSG has done it eight times in a row, going back to 2002. For those not paying attention, the Paris club Paris–Saint–Germain has had a very bumpy season start and I would be surprised to learn that they have even won eight games this year. They almost got demoted into the bush leagues a couple of weeks ago.

Then there's the Côte d'Ivoire story. The French refugees arriving in Paris are complaining to police about rape and pillage. It sounds like the old days, which were also recently celebrated, with Arte–TV showing the 'Battle of Algiers' last week. Nobody, as far as I know, is calling the new ones 'pieds noirs' yet.

Finally, the word of the day – Thursday actually – was 'poilus.' This is the French word for ordinary WWI soldiers. It means guys who sat around in waterlogged trenches, freezing cold and starving, for four years while being bombed and gassed, without shaving. Covered in hair. The hairy ones. And a couple of them were on TV Thursday night – not complaining about any strange syndromes.

The strangest syndrome has to be the fact that most people here eat what they want all the time, including cakes and foie gras, and nobody other than the eight percent who are the usual losers, gets fat.

Actually this is a dirty little secret nobody except foreigners ever mentions. The French and Parisians go around blithely unaware that they are eating what they want without gaining excessive weight.

Hmm. What the foreigners don't notice are all the ladies in the hairdressers reading the fashion magazines full of ads for slimming pills, slimming creams, slimming tonics, slimming spas, slimming mud, slimming parlors – the annual turnover of the slimming industry dwarfs diesel locomotive production.

Right! Everyone goes out nd eats all they want and the next day they haul off to running errands, sprinting up and down Métro stairs to the hairdressers with the slimming ads, popping up two flights of stairs to see Maire–Céline, prancing through Saint–Lazare's tunnelsphoto, rue gassendi and cruising through Lafayette's seven floors, picking up the kids and herding them to school or home before zipping off to a supermarket for two six–packs of water, racing home and squeezing into a size eight dress and on with the face.

Autumn in the sunny 14th arrondissement.
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