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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 lady offered us a sexy show and beers for only 10€ a pop. We declined but we can always go back.

Then the tour became mysterious. I was tired of thinking so I said we could take any street to get to the Seine, and we started with Rue Frommentin and its closed bars, and then after a block switched over to Jean–Baptiste Pigalle, a street not yet wholly populated with bobos, that led us to Sainte–Trintié.

A dump of a joint in the 9th arrondissement.

Then I knew where we were again, just a few blocks from Haussemenn. We went into the Galeries Lafayette and looked at the dome and sniffed the reek of perfume, which probably has something in that affects women. Then Nigel decided that Andrew needed some new clothes so we went across to the other building. In the entry Nigel said it was all too expensive, but we went upstairs and they looked at even more pricey threads while I asked if there were any advance summer sale items.

A '50–Cent Tour' continues on the Au Bistro page.

Soldes d'Ete

Usual or not, the summer sales announced to begin Friday, 24. June and continue until about Saturday, 23. July, are still scheduled. It just goes to show that if you can't afford the full price for a tiny bikini there must be more to it for less than meets the eye.

Rio de Bastille II

Wednesday, 13 July, is the eve of 'Bastille Day' and the star guest at big fête at the Bastille will be Gilberto Gil, Brazil's musical ambassador and current Minister of Culture.

Headline of the Week

One of the Le Parisien's blacker headlines of the week was Friday's 'On ferme!.' Thisphoto, consulat, norvins refers to last week's dismal news about the likely closing of the Samaritaine department store, as early as this Wednesday.

The bit of Montmartre copyrighted by Utrillo.

There has been a rumor going around for some time that the LVMH luxury goods group is thinking of turning its Right Bank emporium into a fancy hotel. The group has leased two of its four buildings to other retailers, and one building on Rivoli is standing unused. Now the main building fronting on the Seine needs urgent renovations to ensure its security.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last Thursday's club meeting report was flimsily based on the catchphrase, 'Put On Another Prawn.' According to a language expert nobody in Australia actually says this anymore and other experts believe the phrase hasn't been used much since Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on next Thursday once again. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Jean–François. This 'Saint of the Week' was born near Carcassonne in 1597 and he was a Jesuit who founded a home for wayward prostitutes.

Some pretty confused facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The flubbed design of the club membership card on the page looks as much like a membership card as any other laminated card hand–made by a member, and it isn't. Fundamentally free, the club membership itself is virtual, virtually priceless, all without actually being worth anything virtual.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.25 – 14. June – this issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Let There Be Light – Unknown Time Slot.' The Au Bistro column's title was, 'Euro Unmuddle – Polling Station 14–55.' There was no 'Feature of the Week' again so readers could hop straight to the repeat Scène column with the title, 'Ready for Summer with Any of 220 Events.' The update for the 17. June meeting of the Café Metropole Club was called the 'Past Kodachrome' report.photo, sign, rue de l'abbaye There were four rather simple 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was direct from nowhere else with a boring caption like, 'Any One of These?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.24 – 9. June 2003 – this week's Café Metropole column was extra topical with, 'A See–Art Week.' A 'Feature of the Week' was titled 'The Real Daguerréotypes – Henri Cartier–Bresson's First Show.' There were two Scène columns, a 'Classic' Version and a 'Summer' Version. The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 12. June was trumpeted as the 'Secretary in Coma, Loses Marbles' report. There were four hardly wonderful 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was extra 'social' again with, 'Plate of French Fries.'

Hungary Chucklehead

For the 15th time almost in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but instead is a true 'Quote of the Week' again. William Styron said, "The good writing of anyphoto, sign, rue de perceval age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads." Especially if they are well–fed too.

If the Past Is Any Indication

Today marks the death in 323 BC, of Alexander the Great, 33 years old, who was born in Macedonia. Master of Greece, Egypt and Asia, Alexander built an empire in ten years that reached to India, but when he died it fell apart fast. But there must have been something to it or we wouldn't know when he died, and we wouldn't keep on calling him 'Alexander the Great.'

A Near–Hit

Today is the seventh anniversary of France's 35–hour work week. This legal work week was adopted despite the strenuous opposition of the employer's federation, and despite Jacques Chirac being president. Introduced in stages up to January 2002, when the right–wing regained power in the spring of the same year they began to chip away at its foundations.

He Always Wore a Hat

On this date in 823 Charles i, who was also known as Charles the Bald and Holy Roman Emperor Charles II, was born. His dad was Louis the Pious, who first assigned Alemannia to Charles, then the country between the Meuse and the Pyrenees. Charles' part–brothers Lothair and Louisphoto, sign, poupee mascot the German didn't like this one bit and rebelled. Charles also had disputes with Aquitaine and against the Bretons, who beat him up twice. Charles also fought against the Normans who wrecked a lot of places. If you ask me this Charles didn't have much success, but history says he invented feudalism as a way of keeping folks in line.

Slightly 'Dubious Dates of the Week'

There are only 201 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1886 when Bavaria's King Ludwig II drowned to death in Lake Starnberg, somewhat mysteriously. He was a good swimmer and the water was shallow. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 164 days, the same number that 1886 had when Vancouver burned down, despite an average of 55 mm rainfall in June, usually on the 13th.
signature, regards, ric

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