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The 2nd Greatest

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A little park named after Henri IV.

Frenchman of All Time

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 11. April 2005:– Last Thursday's weather forecast here is still online so if you want to see egg on my face give it another read. Yes, the temperature went down to 2 degrees one morning and yes, my heat went off the same morning, but nothing was as bad as the 'gresil,' 'giboulées' and plain 'gouttes' in buckets, predicted.

In fact, while all this chaos was supposed to be going on the sun has been shining pretty merrily today and Sunday. Yes, it's a bit breezy, but the sky is blue. It's not as bad as I think, but it hardly ever is.

For example, tonight's TV–weather news guy predicted a mostly sunny day for tomorrow, with maybe just a tiny smidgen of rain up along the Channel coast. A high of 17 degrees will be nothing to sneeze at, compared to 10 degrees predicted for New York tomorrow.

Elements of the sky begin going downhill qualitywise on Wednesday when glop from the west invades Brittany, but should be nothing at all to worry about here and with 15 degrees it won't be too cold because it'll be a whole degree warmer than New York.

Then on Thursday, while a band of wet rain sloshes across France and the temperature dumps to 12 degrees – to be followed by some sunshine along the Channel – it will be mostly sunny in New York, but the same temperature.

Starting this week I have moved astute reader and budding meteorologist Jim Auman up from lower on the page because he is carefully watching the skies over New York City from a vantage pointgraphic,weather maps in New Jersey. Famous for measuring the depth of snow in his backyard in all seasons, here is Jim's report for today:

Pluviôse Continues Rampage

Having given up on venting its spleen on Pommeland – the promised deluge did not take place, it is now concentrating on the South, specifically Atlanta, Georgia where the Masters Golf Tournament – renamed 'Torment' – is trying to take place. In addition, the panhandle area of southwestern Florida has received 13 inches – 33 euro middle metres – of spleen in the past few days. None of the people evacuated expressed any opinion about being a test case for a scene from Jules Verne or whether knowing that Jean–Paul Sartre's upcoming 100th birthday added any existential zest to their lives.

Café Life


I must have missed a vital bit of information. I thought that the French knock–off of the 'Great Brits' TV–show, or popularity contest, was going to run over eight weeks. Instead, France–2's 'Le plus grand Français de tous les temps' seems to have occupied only two or three Monday evening prime–time slots.

Monday is when I pretend to bolt a weekly issue of Metropole together so I didn't consider watching it even if biographies of the ten top contestants could have been interesting. Apparently they were just little clip shows.

It is possible that the Pope dying scrambled the program schedule. A couple of times the evening news justphoto, institut francais, blossums went on and on forever and even the weather got spiked. Whole years can go by without the church being mentioned on the news, so it's easy to forget it exists. No churches here have neon signs either.

France–2 TV showed the winner on Monday night, and I didn't watch it. To find out who won I had to dig around Web-news a bit on Tuesday, and there it was buried under the obscure 'media' news.

Clubhouse of famous living Frenchmen.

I don't imagine that the 'Great Brits' popularity contest caused much excitement with the bookies because the winner was Winston Churchill. Here everybody guessed Charles de Gaulle would come out tops, so it couldn't have been a TV show full of high drama.

According to the report, the general's son, Admiral Philippe de Gaulle appeared on the show. He said all of the candidates were 'notorious,' 'of great value,' but in specific areas. The general won because he was 'more universal.'

Then, for padding, the report contained two biographical paragraphs. With the Brits picking Churchill, it remains for the Americans to vote for Roosevelt as the 'greatest American of all time,' and then it will be the Russian's turn to do the same for Stalin. The Germans, of course, should have voted for Willy Brandt, but chose Konrad Adenauer instead. The choices of Canada and Finland are eagerly awaited.

Whatever was originally planned, the 'greatest Frenchman' contest only yielded two TV broadcasts. A poll in September of 2004 selected the '100 greatest Frenchmen of all time,' and after the first broadcast 10 remained in the running. With no suspense for the top spot in France, the vote's real interest fell on the nine runner–ups.

The scientist Louis Pasteur was chosen as the number two 'greatest Frenchman of all time.' Pasteur developedphoto, two shops, gaite pasteurization, vaccines, and invented the science of microbiology. Hardly a random choice, because Marie Curie landed in the fourth spot. Born in Warsaw, she discovered radium and won Nobel prizes in 1903 and 1911.

Unfamaous but colorful, real shops.

Between the two, a very old but living Abbé Pierre was chosen for the third spot. Since the end of World War II he has been saying that some people are poorly housed in France. He is a popular and longstanding moral force even if people are still poorly housed.

It's was surprise to see the dead comedian Coluche edge out Victor Hugo, but not such a surprise to find the writer in the sixth place. But the consistency holds with another comedian, Bourvil, in seventh spot, followed by Molière the playwright, who died during the fourth performance of 'Le Malade Imaginaire,' in 1673.

In ninth place it's back to science again with the selection of the undersea's Jacques–Yves Cousteau. In the tenth place, the list is completed with name of another entertainer, Edith Piaf.

This adds up to one statesman, three scientists, a moral leader, two comedians and a singer, one writer and one playwright – that the French have chosen to be the 'greatest Frenchmen of all time.' If they were all attending a party, it would probably be an interesting evening, French style.

France–2 TV invited viewers to vote on their Web for their favorites, but Metropole readers who tried were unable to find out how to sign up on the Web site. Myself, I glanced at it and gave up too.

Extra Special 'Fiat 500 of the Week'

Metropole reader and Café Metropole Club member Bruce Poole, living in Fredericton, New Brunswick,photo, fiat 500, poole captured a mint blue metallic Fiat 500 in London a couple of weeks ago and sent the photo to me for Metropole's collection of Fiat 500s 'of the week.'

A stand–in for the UK 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

A few days later I snapped two others in Paris and was thinking of running all three – especially if I could have found two more – but something else came up and that was one more good idea that never happened. But this week I am determined to run Bruce's Fiat – except that I can't find the darn thing.

I swear that the blue one here is nearly the same color and you can hardly tell that the steering wheel is on the left instead of on the right like it would be if it was an offshore model. A big tip of the cap to Bruce Poole!

Headline of the Week

There were many bold headlines of the week in Le Parisien but the strangest was, Les horodateurs sont–ils illégaux?' This appeared on today's front page, and is about a court case in Boulogne that handed down a decision saying that parking metres must accept cash money, not just various kinds of cards.

In Paris however, parking officials claim that city parking metres that only accept cards are legal because you can buy themphoto, comedie italienne, gaite for cash or with plastic all over the place. All the same about 50 folks with tickets are going to challenge the city in court. The law in France stipulates that if something is for sale a consumer should be able to pay for it with money.

The Comédie Italienne in the Rue de la Gaîté.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The most recent club meeting's '20 Questions' club report is highly apt, because new member Bonnie Blythe brought her notebook full of questions to the meeting, plus an entire TV remote control that didn't work. Suggesting where to find a replacement was the club secretary's sole contribution of Paris lore to members in residence.

The next Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday, more or less as usual. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Maxime. This 'Saint of the Week' was the private secretary to Emperor Heraclius, but was arrested by his successor Constant II and had his tongue removed as well as his right hand. Other than this he died in 662.

Equally true actual facts about the club are available on the 'About the Club' page. The edgy design of the somewhat sketchy club membership card on this page looks as much like a membership card as any balled–up scrap of a parking ticket, but it isn't. It is sufficient to be virtual, while the club membership itself is free, available and neat too, and can be tested in Paris.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.15 – 5. April – the Café Metropole column's headline was, 'Metre–reader Readiness, 'Fluff' Turns Into Drizzle.' The week's Au Bistro was was extra concise with, in two words, 'RÉVOILA! and RISQUÉ.' The slogan 'Contest' cruised along with 'Still Time to Send In Your Entries.' Laurel Avery's 'Paris Life' was about a 'Change for the Better.' The update for the 8. April meeting of the Café Metropole Club was characterized as the 'Members 'On Location' report. The Scène column was a repeat jumbo with, 'Dante et Virgile aux Enfers – with Francis Bacon, Elsa Schiaparelli' again. There were six edgy 'Posters ofphoto, sign, rue huyghens the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was about the thrilling 'Fête de l'Arbre.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.15 – 7. April 2003 – this small issue's Café Metropole column started with 'Dozy in Paris, More Air, More Fresh.' The Au Bistro feature was complete, 'In Only 22 Words.' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 10. April was headlined as the 'The Return of Bongo' report. The Scène column announced, 'From Gauguin to Ming.' There were four merely adequate 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was on–the–mark with, 'Only Smoking is Legal.'

Welsh Rarebit

For the sixth time almost in a row, this is not about some old saint, but is instead a true story. Llywelyn ap Iorwerth was born in 1173 and he was the grandson of Owain Gwynedd, whose sons overthrew Iorwerth after Owain's death, leaving Llywelyn up the creek. However he defeated his uncles to take Gwynedd for himself, becoming its prince and Prince of Aberffraw and Lord of Snowdon, or Llywelyn the Great or, in Welsh, Llywelyn Fawr.

In 1205 he married Joan, a beautiful but illegitimate daughter of mean King John. He had occasional disputesphoto, sign, bd edgar quinet, ancien with old John and later, Henry III, but succeeded in keeping Wales independent. He also triumphed over his main rival, Gwenwynwyn of Powys, who was not related.

After the birth of a heir, Dafydd ap Llywelyn, and a daughter, Elen – who married the Earl of Chester – Joan became too friendly with William de Braose, a noble from south Wales who was allied with Llywelyn on account of the marriage of his daughter Isabella to Llywelyn's son, Dafydd. Llywelyn, on discovering the fooling around in 1230, had de Braose bumped off and Joan was tossed into a crummy dungeon. Later, he forgave her and she regained her position as princess, of Aberffraw, and only died in 1237.

Llywelyn died of natural causes in 1240 and a power struggle began between his legitimate son, Dafydd, and his older, illegitimate son, Gruffydd, who according to Welsh law had equal rights of inheritance. Llywelyn had departed from tradition by naming Dafydd as heir, because he recognized the inherent flaws in Welsh law, namely that Gruffydd was a booby.

But silly Gruffydd was killed while 'attempting to escape' from the Tower of London in 1244, leaving the field clear forphoto, sign, 1897 Dafydd. Unfortunately Dafydd himself died without heirs two years later, and was eventually succeeded by his nephew, unlucky Llywelyn the Last.

All the same we'll take today's 'Quote of the Week' from Gautama Siddhartha. He wrote, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, and no matter if I have said it." Gautama, probably writing in Sanskrit, but by no means certain, may not be correctly quoted here because it isn't the entire quote.

Today's Other 'Notable Dates of the Week'

There are only 264 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1713 when Louis XIV ceded Newfoundland to 'les Anglais.' This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 101 days, the same number that 1814 had when the Napoléon abdicated and was exiled to Elba, exactly 11 years after Talleyrand offered to sell all of the Louisiana Territory.
signature, regards, ric

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