horz line

Pieces of Eight

photo, rue faubourg saint honore

Street of dreams for Saturday shopping.

Ballots for Idle Voters

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 5. December 2005:– Three days after it warmed up a lot last week, I started to get warm. It means I have been comfortable for a day and a half now, and now the thermometre is tipping south again, headed more or less straight towards five, zero, worse to come, endless night, new ice age, and so on.

You may, if it is summer in Argentina, cry for me. Meanwhile, watching tonight's TV–weather news, I got the feeling that it is more complicated than General Eisenhower's plan of attack on the Normandy beaches. First there will be a wind from the northwest pounding on Channel ports at 50 kph, some sunny periods in Brittany, no sunny periods along the northern border, rain, maybe sleet a tad east, snow above 500 metres but not here because the Tour Eiffel isn't high enough, more sun on the Riviera as usual, and a high temperature of 7 degrees, maybe. Can you imagine I took all this in, in 30 secs?

As usual less time was devoted to Wednesday, which may appropriately be semi–sunny here, horriblephoto, cake of the week out on Brittany's tip, and dreadful in the entire southeast of the country. In this area the high temperature may be 7 degrees again.

Yum yum yummy whatever it is.

Thursday was given an equally flash treatment, a short shrift, with one sunbeam out in Brittany, preceded by a gray wave from top to bottom, set to sweep across the country from west to east, probably not full of rain but you never know. Further east high clouds will veil the weak sun, which I doubt we'll see because we are under the gray part. The high forecast calls for 8 degrees. Where did I get the idea that it's going to be freezing?

This week the highly pedagogic weather scribbler in and around New York City, Météo Jim, writes an essay about last week's weather which gets discarded, being in the past, unlikely to return, and turns to:–

Post–Dindon, Beaujolais Shopping Depression

Monday was Black e–Monday which meant that les mangeurs du dindon et les buveurs du Beaujolais nouveau went back to work and the first thing they did was to turn on the company's computers and do their online shopping. Why else would you go to work? Sunday has seen the first significant snowfall of the advanced midwinter season. Pommeland received 3 a–inches of the stuff. Then it ended, as it always does, with a damp drizzle that put a light coat of ice on everything. Temperatures remained in the low 30's a–grad. More snow expected on Tuesday then clearing with temperatures about 40 a–grad for the rest of the week.

It is now official:– Hurricane Epsilon. Pommeland may just have a blizzicane for Christmas.

*Confession – by 'Ed,' not honest Météo Jim – last week's note that the 2005 hurricane season is so out of control that hurricane central has had to dip into next year's Latin name box was from Jim, but it was 'Ed' who stupidly added epsilon. Hoisted by my own petard.

Café Life

Pieces of Eight

Wednesday:– Just because it's cold outside is no excuse for not covering Paris, but I put off going outphoto, fauchon, madeleine as long as possible. A good thing too because it was damp and humid, with a breeze that sliced, and the sky looked like torn nylons. It was almost dark in the afternoon, with the fallen leaves looking like pieces of eight, now worthless in our plastic age.

Fauchon in the place Madeleine.

Outside the door, the Toyota veteran of the Dakar, for the days of January sun in the Sahara, racing to the beach of Senegal. There was more Africa on the Morris column up at Maine. Another animal movie for the kids on their Christmas holidays. The avenue itself was bitter with the wind blowing up from the Porte d'Orléans. I crossed from the police station to the unemployment office and found a new poster on the busstop. Le Tigre et la Neige is another kids' film, by Roberto Benigni, wearing wings and white shorts.

There was so much Africa out there that I slipped into the boulangerie where other people were taking refuge in the smells of bread, with the cakes filling in with their candy for the eyes. Then down Daguerre where the wind couldn't find itself and there was a crowd in the café, warming itself at the cold bar, not bothering with the oysters out front. In half a hour it had gone from dim to dark but the horse players cared not at all. The Joe was standing outside the Poste, opening the door for tips, and I passed him a euro, thankful that I could walk home as fast as I wanted.

Friday:– Working isn't getting done. It was din–din at Uncle Den–Den's on Tuesday, cocktails in the Bouquet on Wednesday, which led to cassoulet there on Friday night. Nigel went for this even though he'd eaten at Chez Papa last week, and then Matt turned up to drool for a couple of minutes, followed by Dimitri who said he'd won the Loto.

Nigel was making his cassoulet last so Natalie came over, wondering if something was wrong with it. Nigel was trying to savor every bean twice. Dimitri finally fell off the bar and took the next table, hauling out his French dagger, to cut duck that was falling apart. After many more pots of wine we got out of there, more stuffed than geese. Even though it wasn't as cold as it's been we skipped having a last one in the Bistro 48 because it was too early.

photo, champs elysees
The Champs–Elysées on Saturday evening.

Saturday:– Later than I meant to I was off up to Madeleine to see what SUV drivers might be picking up at Fauchon, Hediard and the other so–called food shops around there. I must say I understand the crowds in Monoprix – hungry folks every one – but the gangs of the well–dressed storming the temples of goodies is puzzling. I guess they need something to dream about and have the means to get their hands on it too.

Then down to the Rue Royal a bit before the lights came on, jostling for space on the wide sidewalks in front of the decorated windows full of fine threads and gold–plated bathroom hardware. It was like a Hollywood film and the name 'Holly Golightly' ran through my head between the ears. Audrey Hepburn movies are on TV. Not that I have time to see them but I heard the name in French. Golightly.

At the Faubourg Saint–Honoré the light was just right. A lot of shoppers or gawkers seemed to think so too and flics were acting like referees, keeping Joes from backing into it from Royal. I got away from there before being bumped by bodyguards and hiked down to Concorde where the sky was putting on its late show, dark blue over the Assembly National across the bridge.

I let the Métro haul me up to George Cinq, and it was a crowded as the others I was on. All the lights on the Champs–Elysées were blazing away and both traffic directions were white and red trails of lights, leaving a glow on hundreds of thousands out taking the air, and maybe thinking of buying a little Mercedes roadster or a Madonna CD at Virgin.

Another mob stormed the Métro at Etoile, with some Spaniards looking out the wrong side for the Tour Eiffel, sparkling, as we went over the bridge. For the price of a ticket it's a good ride as far as Pasteur and after that it's okay to guess who will get off at Montparnasse and who will ride on to Denfert. Then there were 75 photos to unwrap, and on Sunday another dinner to have with Nigel at Tata Line's, before he's off to DC.

Foreign Voters

Although it was one of Nicolas Sarkozy's flipshot ideas a month ago, calling on foreigners to vote thisphoto, village royal, madeleine week in Paris probably wasn't what he had in mind, if anything. Actually everybody is being called on to vote in an informal poll, to cast a 'yes' or 'no' for the notion of giving foreigners the right to vote.

The Village Royal passage.

Exceptions are proper and necessary for life in France, so the eight arrondissements controlled by the right, are boycotting the vote. That's okay because all you need is to be a resident, 18 or over, and be able to find the ballot boxes in 12 other arrondissements and 70 assorted towns. If you have to walk a block or two out of your way, blame the UMP.


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