horz line

Away for a Song

photo, observatory, paris

For the Observatory, a line with 6000 in it on Sunday.

Summer of 2OO5 Over

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 19. September 2005:– It has gotten chillier as if the stored up heat of the summer has seeped off into the dark skies, cooled by a frigid full moon these recent nights. After having a fresh wind from the north over the weekend I expected tonight's TV–weather news to forecast more – more wind, more dropping temperatures, more falling leaves, more fall.

I caught the tail–end of the weather before the news, then caught the front–end 45 minutes later. Thus I got a surprise, that I would not have had if I had looked at the forecast in Le Parisien. It has beau mais frais for Tuesday, frais mais beau for Wednesday and beau et frais for Thursday.

Specifically this means some clouds along the Channel and down in south–east France tomorrow, with a cool high temperature prediction of 20 degrees. Maybe some morning mist and maybe some jolly little white clouds, but a blue–sky afternoon.

Then with clouds still lurking about the Channel on Wednesday, the whole rest of the country is supposed to be clear and blue, with one huge sun–ball hovering over it. For the day, a high of 21 is expected.

For Thursday, maybe you can expect nearly the same, but with the north–west clouds switched to the south–east. Sunshine all day and without the morning mists – at least none were mentioned – and a high of 21 degrees again. As much as I will appreciate this sort of forecast, if it is true, it is disturbing not to have anything to whine and moan about, what with Le Parisien calling it frais.

Excuse me for using the royal 'we' here two weeks ago. This week over in Pommeland Météo Jim sends a long, somewhat off–subject bulletin, concerning:

Equality of Days and Nights

For the coming week, three things – first, the Florida Keys are being threatened by Tropical Storm – soon to be Hurricane, Rita. She is projected to hit the Keys and then turn west but not before it turns east–south–north or some other fabulous direction to confound the weather predictors.

Secondly, the weather for Pommeland is forecast to be mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 80's anglograd. As stated before, experience says to add at least 5 degrees anglograd to predicted highs. This will leave the temperatures much above normal, especially when the third item is considered.

Autumn begins this week with equal days and nights all over the world. Upon hearing this, President Jacques Chirac has gone to the European Parliament, the French National Assembly and has scheduled an election to invoke l'exception française. The idea that French days and nights will be the same world wide has sent President Chirac into a rage. French days and nights must be the same as everybody else's, only different. "If this law is not passed," droned Chirac, "This will have grave consequences for the rest of humanity."

Café Life

Some Had Two Looks

Over the weekend France had its journées du patrimoine as sort of a break in the politics that infest the rentrée. In Germany, where the fête happens too, they took Sunday off in order to vote for a new government. When the votes were counted, Germany had less government than it had before.

Meanwhile in France, Jacques Chirac was shaking patrimony–fans hands at the right–bank Elysée Palace while Nicolas Sarkozy was doing the same thing at the Place Beauvau, also on the right–bank across the street from the Elysée. Sarkozy's henchmen tried to leave nothing to chance by keeping score. The result was 11,622 handshakes for the Elysée and 11,623 for the Place Beauvau, which could lead one to think that some folks voted twice.

When it comes to patrimony I am all in favor of it. In the culture business it is the weekend of the giant freebie with 15,000 locations being open. The problem is the 12 million Frenchmen who can't pass it up. But in Paris crowds were reduced somewhat by holding a tennis tournament all weekend and a mini–marathon for ladies.

It was a tactic that didn't work. Cool sunny weather made a lot of people forsake the pleasures of Sunday television to visit the reopened Grand Palais, the Senat in the Luxembourg, or the Palais Bourbon, the home of the Assemblée Nationale. Even the Maison de la RATP received 20,298 of the curious.

Of course I leaped out of bed at 7:30 Sunday morning fully intending to gobble breakfast and scoot over to the Grand Palais to see how grand it is, but it was kind of chilly and I have a nice warm bed. By afternoon the wind was still howling past my windows, but I made it out in spite of it.

Then, wouldn't you know, I 'lost' the Maison de Santé de Marguerite de Provence, the Marguerite who was married to Saint–Louis – in, what was it? The 13th century. But today called Sainte–Anne. Paris' only psychiatric hospital.

Here's how I see this patrimony lark – if the morning is too chilly then I have to find patrimony that's handy, and maybe not too popular. I have a lot of patrimony right across the street in the cemetery, but it's open all the time. Next closest is this antique farm for the disturbed, and there I was, couldn't find it.

In principle, I remembered, it is straight south of east side of the Santé prison, so it makes a logical threesome with the Observatory. Sure enough, I saw its sturdy gate right around the corner from the Boulevard Saint–Jacques, and no line–up to get in. Sainte–Anne is a huge place like a park, like a campus, full of trees and pavilions and fine to be in on a sunny day. With a bibliothèque, a small museum, and 62 kinds of trees from Aubepine to Zelcova, a visit could take weeks even though it looked as if there was no waiting.

A couple of blocks away outside the Santé police cars were circling the area, possibly looking for the usual suspects. For this reason alone there aren't many pedestrians about as a rule. Besides the prison looks forbidding. Nobody wasted a lot of decor on its high, outer walls, and it didn't look like anybody had washed it in the last century either.

Also, its door didn't have a patrimony sign on it. So I continued on to the boulevard, and tested the Vespasian that stands there, forlornly, outside the prison walls. It is certainly patrimony. It is the only one, out of hundreds, that is left.

Then it was just a traipse up the block to the Observatory's back door, in a park, and it said 'go to the front door.' When I got there I discovered a mess of folks who had probably gotten up at 7:30, shuffling around corners up to the high, iron gate. Well, I've been in there before, to see the Eclipse some years ago.

There's some sort of Paris tap water place next to the Observatory entry, and there were three old dudes providing musical entertainment for the culture fans who decided against waiting with their kids for the Observatory, and everybody looked pretty gay drinking plastic cups of water. If it's free, Parisians will drink anything.

Coming away it seemed to me that the Saint–Vincent hospital wasn't getting a similar rush. A lot of people are up in arms about the idea to tear it down and they have marches and protest parades all the time, so I guessed they'd taken the day off.


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