horz line

A '5O–Cent Tour'

photo, bistro la bruyere

On tour, past the ordinary sights.

Exactly Half of the 'Dollar Tour'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 13. June 2005:– First off, you need not worry about tonight's 'orange alert' because it concerns only parts of France that are nowhere near here, and besides, the alert may be over by the time you read this. But if you happen to be in Marseille within the next 12 hours it might be wise to have an umbrella.

Meanwhile, in and around Paris we can expect warmer temperatures, which will be no more than 'average' for the time of year. As I bonus I should mention that there will be a starry sky tonight even though I forgot to look when I was out a few minutes ago.

Tonight's TV–weather news forecast wasn't nearly as positive as last night's. What we have left, besides stars tonight, are a blue sky full of little clouds and a lot of sunshine for tomorrow – which is what we've had for several days now. With a high predicted to be 24 degrees tomorrow should be a very pleasant day.

Then, sometime on Wednesday, a wall of cloud will float over from the west and that will be that. Thephoto, musee sign, buzzer temperature will stay at 24 and the same clouds be hanging around on Thursday. Today's Le Parisien seems to think this will be the case for Friday too, but a bit warmer.

From far over the Atlantic Météo Jim sends an abbreviated version of techno angst instead of a forecast. Caught off–base here in weather central, here is Jim's report without the forecast:–

Weather Poetry, Unprintable

The météo report for Pommeland for the coming week will be delayed if not canceled because Météo Jim's printer went into a funk that matched the weather. Just as the reek and haze created day after day of 95 anglograd – 35 eurograd –descended at twilight to merge air, sky and land into a yellowish then gray mist where features were softened and gently erased any identity, so did my printer as it slipped from the land of the working into a coma punctuated by blinking lights and irrelevant, pointless messages.

Café Life

A '50–Cent Tour'

Nigel's son Andrew is studying computer stuff at the university at Uppsala so Nigel went up there to see the Swedish sights. He was lucky to get beyond the Gare du Nord on account of a strike but there were other Parisians trapped in its maze and together they found a train to the airport. If you want to get rid of somebody, just send them to Gare du Nord.

In a rash moment Nigel promised Andrew that he would show him Paris, so they came back together lastphoto, nigel, andrew Tuesday. Actually they were on two different flights, but Nigel gave Andrew a lot of instructions, and his portable phone with all the Paris numbers in it. Late on Tuesday Nigel called here to ask if there was any sign of Andrew.

Touring companions, Nigel and Andrew.

The short version of the story involved a delayed flight and Nigel's phone left behind in Uppsala. By Wednesday Andrew was in the land of the recently 'found' and Nigel engaged me to lead a tour – starting on Montmartre – for Paris first–timer Andrew. It was a beautiful day for it, bright and cool.

Riding on the Métro I explained about the stations being renovated and the train wrecks. A lot of words get washed away by the noise so there is no need for a lot of detail. Everything there is to say about the elevator at Lamarck–Caulaincourt is familiar, riding it is easier than the stairs.

The first part of Montmartre is either hill or stairs anyway. We skipped the cemetery but looked at the Lapin Agile and the vineyard, and then the pink café, which needs a repaint. A Japanese mode crew were doing some modish thing at the Rue Cortot, but further on nobody was bothering the Musée du Montmartre. It is usually like this – hardly anybody looks around Montmartre's north side.

Then we passed all the trinket shops and gawkers in the Rue Chevalier de la Barre. Off–season meant we got through in less than 40 minutes without spending anything, and then there was Scare Coeur, acting like a magnet for the sunshine. The wide view over the city from the top of the stairs was properly regarded for five whole minutes and then it was off to see the mobs in the Place du Tertre.

These turned out to be thin and we were able to walk past the whole circus in about two minutes. Over at the corner of Rue Norvins there was a painter on the sidewalk doing the Utrillo scene. There are partial minutes when the cars, trucks and buses are as absent as tourists, and if you look hard and fast then it looks like the painting, almost. Except for some scaffolding, that is.

From this point there are about five ways to go, and 348 destinations, so I asked Nigel if he had a preference. He said we should see the Bateau Lavoir and I immediately wished I knew wherephoto, montmartre it is. Last time I found it without thinking. A little way down Lepic, but not so far that Andrew got a good view of the moulin, and then down a staired street, and Bob's your uncle.

Ordinary Montmartre street with only one moulin.

The Bateau Lavoir is a good sight to see because there isn't much to it. There's a shop window with photos and more than anyone wants to know, but the shaded place under the trees is – shaded. It overlooks a café that looks like an old joint under an awning in the sun, sort of like you imagine Montmartre might be like.

Then Andrew wanted to see 'Amelie's café.' We went along Rue Garreau where I was hoping for a directional clue, until I gave up and turned left, downhill. It must have been the Rue Tholozé because Lepic was just to the right and we went down it to the café.

After a couple of photos of Andrew pretending to be in a movie Nigel asked me to lead them to the fruit stand that was in the movie. He said I'd done it before. Maybe so but I haven't seen the movie.

The random street I chose didn't have any fruit stand in it. When you come down from Montmartre everything you've missed is back up, so you are better off with a guide who remembersphoto, cafe, resto, snack where things are. At the Place Blanche while waiting to cross the boulevard, a ldy offered us a sexy show and beers for only 10€ a pop. We declined but we can always go back.

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