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More Strolling Around

photo, bar du marche, buci

For terrace seats, occasional waits.

Does It Never End?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 4. April 2005:– Saturday had pretty good weather and many Parisians were outside to enjoy it. It was still fairly warm yesterday even if it wasn't as sunny. This morning the temperature must have dropped and it tried to rain, but it wasn't much more than a spray of wet on the sidewalks.

Most likely while we sleep tonight a band of rain will cross France from west to east and by the time some of us get up it should have passed, maybe to drop some rain on eastern France. In the wake of this there might be quite a bit of sunshine, but it is not expected to be warmer than 15 degrees.

Wednesday may be even sunnier for most of the day, if the attack of Atlantic clouds keeps to the TV–weather news timetable. A prediction for a high of 16 degrees may result in exactly this and if you are around it might be a last chance for a few days.

The attack of clouds will not be so iffy on Thursday. The forecast says there will be total cloud cover, all day, everywhere. Rain is expected too, and it might be pretty dreary with a high temperature expected to be no more than 12 degrees. The super–long term outlook for Friday is slightly more pessimistic.

Café Life

Pause Turns Into Slump

There is no getting around it – Metropole's 'Ed' is having a slump. He is not the only one in Parisphoto, louvre, pont carrousel who feels sleepy either, but this is very unhandy when it comes to tapping out 2–3 thousand new and fresh words per week, resulting from endlessly circulating around the city and keeping up with the papers.

Between areas of shade, the sun warms stone.

A couple of weeks ago we had a spell of really fine weather. The project I was working on got a down–shift in priority because it was impossible to stay inside while the buds were popping out. Without planning it, suddenly I was walking all over the place both during the day and in the evenings.

Close to the Sky

A handy bus – runs right past my door – took me to the Parc André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement to see if the tethered balloon was still there. It was, the day was brilliant, and suddenly I was a passenger on it, lifted straight up about 150 metres.

It's about my speed as far as adventures go. It goes straight up and hangs on the end of its steel cable for ten minutes and then it goes straight down to where it started. It's very safe, especially since the operator is a licensed pilot – the insurance says that the thing is an aircraft. But it's a bit less formal – nobody tells you to watch out for falling oxygen masks, and nobody sells drinks in little bottles.

The view? It depends on the sky, how clear it is. On my trip it was sunny but a bit hazy, so it wasn't possible to see forever. I could see the Tour Eiffel, which is higher and has a better view, but does not gently sway as much as the balloon. And, as far as I know, you can stay on the tower all day if you feel like it.

Enough Terraces?

For a good part of the year it seems as if there are more than enough café terraces to suit everybody, but when the sun comes out and the temperature goes above 15 degrees then you might think there is a shortage.

Instead of walking from sight to sight you might plan your route to take in favorite terraces, and then you'll realizephoto, boules, tuileries how few really great ones there are. If the temperature is on the edge you might want one in the sun. Suddenly two–thirds of all terraces are eliminated, or they are morning only, or afternoon only, or always on the wrong side of the street.

In the Tuileries, city–centre boules.

In order to make terraces work year–round, some have become permanent. Many have windows that open, and some even open them. In winter, with their heaters, they can be fine, but don't quite match the simple terrace with a parasol over the table.

At night it hardly matters but it cool to sit outside in the semi–dark as waiters flit around, as terracians come and go, as Parisians wander past wishing they had your seat, outside in the city under the streetlamps. In some areas there are whole streets full of people sitting outside.

Cars whisper past and smoke drifts up, the light is yellow–brown and everybody is young. Breezes carry the smell of something good from nearby cafés and you hear murmurs instead of voices, and all the birds are asleep like the few babies sacked out in strollers.

Junk At Edgar

When you are not looking for a terrace seat or a free chair in the park, there are a lot of junk shows at this time of year. Something about spring makes people want to get rid of their idle treasures while a matching group of people likes to wander around gazing at masses of objects that are useless until they see one that isn't.

Luckily there is no entrance fee for this. All you need is free time and the inclination to look at a lot of – ah,photo, statute, arch carrousel trash? – not exactly knowing what it is that is going to strike your fancy. I guess the attraction of it is that none of it is new, or organized, or promoted – it's not like looking at a regiment of new refrigerators, trying to distinguish some difference between the white doors.

Even statues need to, um, repose.

Maybe it is a sort of statement about our materialistic consumer society – despite there being multi–story warehouses full of new goods, folks actually like shopping enough to rummage around through piles of clapped–out discards. Maybe it's not this at all, maybe it's just a way to kill time until the next meal.

Paris Plage Sans Beach

Terraces and junk shows have their fans in nice weather but there's another class of Parisian that likes nothing better than finding a bit of stone paving beside the Seine and camping on it with a river breeze in the face. This could be beside a canal too, but for my taste the river wins because of the vast air space over it, like it being the widest street in town.

The summertime Paris Plage has this all organized and dolled up with 'activities' and 'services' but the 'hors' season people just show up as they are and accept what they get, and enjoy what is free to begin with. It's not a place to seek out if you are looking for solitude because the Seine has a lot of fans, but there is a lot of Seine running through the city.

Headline of the Week

There were few head–turning headlines of the week in Le Parisien but the best was, L'adieu.' This appeared on Saturday's front page with nothing other than a full–page photo of the Pope, Jean–Paul II. Today's paper features another front page photo, like many other Paris dailies today.

Behind the scenes a spat has broken out over the lowering of flags to half–mast yesterday. Some Greens and Socialists are saying that it is not seemly to honor a religion in a state that is neutral, where church and state are separate. However the Prime Minister's office has said it considers the Pope to be a head of state, the Vatican, and that flags will be lowered again next Friday.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The most recent club meeting's 'Spasmofolie!' club report is slightly apt, being as it isphoto, fiat 500 of the week a word invented out of whole cloth, one that the spelling– checker almost said was okay. The actual meeting wasn't really about spasms or 'folies', but it came up accidently in passing, sort of like a misplaced train wreck.

The 'Fiat 500 of the Week' at the Opéra.

The next Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday as usual. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Jean– Baptiste de la Salle. This 'Saint of the Week' was from a well–off family in Reims, which might have something to do with becoming a priest in 1678. He devoted his life's work to teaching teachers, and thus became their patron saint, in 1950.

Equally interesting true facts about the club are available on the 'About the Club' page. The sketchy design of the somewhat edgy club membership card on this page looks as much like a membership card as any scrap of computer monitor, but is isn't. It is sufficient to be virtual, while the club membership itself is free, available and neat too, which can be proved in Paris.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.14 – 29. March – the Café Metropole column noted the weather with, 'A 'Yankee Swap,' Weather Follows Fluff.' The week's Au Bistro effort was headlined, 'Reds Stomp Cons – "It's a Nightmare!"' The slogan 'Contest' picked up steam with the 'Search for a France–Is–Not–Silly Slogan.' Laurel Avery's 'Paris Life was about 'Well–adjusted Children.' The update for the 1. April meeting of the Café Metropole Club was proclaimed the 'Unpredictable Indianapolis is 'City of the Week' report. The Scène column was a jumbo with, 'Dante et Virgile aux Enfers – with Francis Bacon, Elsa Schiaparelli.' Therephoto, sign, rue de l'echelle were four sweet 'Posters of the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was a bland "It's a Nice Day."

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.13/14 – 24/31. Mar 2003 – this double issue had a Café Life with 'A Fresh Air Weekend' followed by the Café Metropole column with 'Limited Indestructible Sunshine.' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 27. March was headlined as the 'Red Dirt' Arrives In Paris!' report and on 3. April we were treated to the "Je ne suis pas content!" report. The Scène column mentioned 'Surreal René Magritte.' There were two times four, still brilliant, 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was off–the–mark with, ''Springtime for Some.'

How Singing Began

For the fifth time almost in a row, this is not about some old saint. It was on this day in 1981 that Bucks Fizz, singingphoto, headless in senlis for Ireland, won the 26th Eurovision song contest someplace in Britain with his rendition of 'Making Your Mind Up.' It's scant coincidence that Napoléon abdicated for the first time on the same day in 1814.

I am pleased to report that club member, Jules Verne fan and New Jersey snow expert, Jim Auman has emailed new exciting news about rotten climatic conditions in New York two days ago.

Jim writes, "Since Pluviôse could not rain on the Easter Parade last week, he is taking out his anger this week with 2 inches of rain and flood watches posted from Friday night until Sunday morning." You will, I hope, note that today is Monday and the danger to New York is safely past for another week. Otherwise, the 100th anniversary of Jules Verne's death, on 24. March 1905, was a mere 12 days ago.photo, easter egg

It was on this day, also a week ago, in 1804 that Napoléon Bonaparte's Napoleonic Code went into effect. It was called the 'Napoleonic Code' because Napoléon ordered some lawyers to write a civil code, somewhat like the one existing in Bavaria which was called the 'Codex Maximilianeus Bavaricus Civilis' for short. The Napoleonic Code deals with inheritance, property and divorce, and it's still around although divorce was liberalized some more two weeks ago.

Therefore we'll take today's 'Quote of the Week' from Otto von Bismarck. He wrote, "When you want to fool the world, tell the truth." Bismarck, probably writing in German, but by no means certain, may not be correctly quoted here because April Fool's Day was last Friday.

Today's Other 'Notable Dates of the Week'

There are only 271 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1846 when Isidore Ducasse, was born and grew up to become known as the Comte de Lautréamont. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 94 days, the same number that 1796 had when the dollar became the official name for United States' currency, because hardly anybody could spell 'Thaler,' the name of the popular Austrian currency.
signature, regards, ric

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