Pipe Dreams

photo, restaurant les trois canettes in the rue des canettes What's on the menu besides ducklings?

In the Quartier Latin

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 21. July:–  This is usually a slow day around here with a lot of the shops and some cafés closed because they were open on Saturday or Sunday. But at this time of year after all of the July waves of vacationers have struggled through the train stations or past the tolls on the autoroutes, there are empty parking spaces on the street for the first time since last August. Hey, I was saying to myself, has everybody gone? All the banging, drilling and crashing of renovations in the building for the last three weeks seems to have stopped too.

So when I went shopping for grub this afternoon at Monoprix I expected wide aisles and no waiting at the checkout. Of course it was a big mistake because they sent half the cashiers to holiday spas on the Riviera and the other half of their machines were grumpy. Although there were only six lonely customers in the baracks checking out took longer than on turkey lines on Christmas Eve. The weather is not on strike – er, I mean, for a change there's good news.

photo, shadows, granite pavement Golden pavements.

Sunshine Means Paris–Plages

It just goes to show that July can be summery when it wants to be and it should want to be more often, but now it is, so rah rah rah. According to tonight's TV–weather and fantasy, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be sunny, sunny and sunny. I ignored any hints of thin clouds, high stratos, and minor items like clouds in Alsace to announce these three. After the graceful Tania pointed out that temperatures are below normal, she gave us 24 for tomorrow, 26 for Wednesday and 27 for Thursday, which is the club day of the week. These values are below normal but after what we've had they seem dreamy.

In years past the Paris–Plages operation always opened on a Wednesday or Thursday, but this year the kick–off was today. They must have moved mountains of sand since Saturday night when the Seine's north coast seemed somewhat desolate. Compared to past editions everything is bigger, better and more wonderful this year. For some reason the plage near the grand library in the 13th is no show this time around. Could it be because of the métro renovations that have shut down the line 6 between Bercy and Place d'Italie. Again! Cut off from a summer of rollicking at the Batofar are we? Paris–Plages continues until 21. August.

photo, sign, la flore de alba ashtray

This week Météo Jim looks nearby for windy weather that won't be near anybody real soon. Here is Jim's latest Monday up–to–date version of how it will be in and around greater Pommeland and at Water Taxi Beach:–

Bertha, Cristobel and Dolly

About a century ago a famous singer sang the praises of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. That was before the days of ozone, smog and heat alerts and skin protection of 40 or better. Now they are merely the icky, sticky days of summer. Temperatures in Pommeland have been in the low to mid 90s a–grad with heat warnings and high humidity. The sticky ickies are predicted to last until Monday when a cool front will arrive and lower the thermometer to the mid 80s.

photo, sign, round window

In the meantime, mean Hurricane Bertha has been downgraded to silly Tropical Storm Bertha, but like the Energizer Bunny, she keeps on kicking. The weather service announced the birth of Tropical Depression Cristobal swirling off the coast of South Carolina. Cristobal is predicted to move the the northeast. Another swirl has grown into becoming Tropical Depression Dolly. Her path will take her over the Yucatan Peninsula, and perhaps into the $50 a barrel range.

As for the coming week, expect temperatures in the mid 80s a–grad with a chance of thunderdonnergeboomenearshsplitten storms in the afternoon.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

photo, saturday night, rue des canettes Almost dancing in the street, again.

Café Life

Hollywood In Paris

I went out for a walk around on Saturday night. The weather cleared up and kept its promise to give a sundown sky with lots of orange and long shadows. I stayed mostly in the Quartier Latin and while walking I was thinking of club member Alan Pavlik stuck in Hollywood. It can't be a lot of fun to be stuck in Hollywood day and night, watching the political shows on TV, reading the papers and surfing the Internet all the time. A guy's gotta have dreams too.

He talks a good game, living in his pad just off Sunset, home of delicious honeys trying to make it in Hollywood. Does he ever go to the swimming pool? Does he ever offer to show them how to play ping–pong? What about taking them out for a spin around Sunset, West Hollywood, or up to the Hollywood sign? See that view – mile upon mile of lights in the flat endless suburbs, as far as the eye can see to Mexico when it isn't too smoggy.

photo, jardin des pierres, rue guisarde, quartier latin Sightseeable obstruction.

Alan doesn't do any of those things because he has Paris. He used to have a cat but that is another story. He still has his pipe, and I assume there's a bottle of some sort of Scotch around, and there's old movies on TV sometimes when he's got the pinwheel eyes from the computer monitor. And sometimes he has Paris.

For example, he used to stay at the Hotel Madison on the boulevard Saint–German. He used to stay there because it is a four–minute walk from everything, almost everything, he cherishes. If he gets up before noon he might feel like breakfast. He has two choices – he can go to the Deux Magots and have a hot chocolate and a fresh croissant with a tiny pot of strawberry jam.

photo, pont au change, the conciergerie, sunset Sundown on Paris' courthouse, the Conciergerie.

If he is a little tottery and feels a need for more substantial fare, there's the crêpes kiosque right across the place. Breakfast of champions, if you've waited until noon, is a Nutella crêpe with all the extras. Then go a short block and get the papers. Since the kiosque is almost inside the Café de Flore he can go there but there may be somebody he doesn't want to see, so he goes to the Bonaparte, which has a distant view of the Deux Magots, just in case.

There he can sit all day. Waiters will bring him coffee and maybe cognac if he feels like having a quick start even if he slept until noon. After a while he gets hungry again and since it is what folks do, about 20:00 he wanders over to the rue des Canettes to an Italian joint named Les Trois Canettes. No one knows if the street was named after this restaurant. It could have been there since the 14th century. Midget duck is on the menu even if it isn't Italian.

photo, stairs down to the seine

Things run late in Paris so it might be a good idea to take in a movie before the night's serious stuff starts. Le Champo in the rue des Ecoles always has good, old movies, for 12 hours a day, every day all year. There are plenty of other nearby cinemas too. If you like old American films they are playing here, in the Quartier Latin.

After the movie Alan has several choices. But let's just say he can return to the Deux Magots for another hot chocolate, or drop in to the Flore for something stronger. Maybe it would be better if he went to a club to hear some music – it's just around the corner. At the end of a long and busy day he hasn't gone more than 500 metres in any direction – the furthest was the cinema – but he hasn't taken any taxis or ridden the métro. Except for his pipe his carbon footprint was zero. The best thing is, tomorrow is new day, especially when it's in Paris. In Hollywood it's just another day.

photo, bar chez georges, rue des canettes High life in the rue des Canettes.

Something To Look Up

Just to the west of the Marché Saint–Germain, in the narrow rues Lobineau, Mabillon, Guisarde, Princesse and Canettes, there is a colony of cafés, bars and restaurants mostly with open doors when the temperature permits, plus some of these places have terraces. It is sort of inside–outside and folks are strolling around, going in and out, and there's only a few cars passing through, so it's like a mall under the sky.

Even if it looks a bit gaudy – a bit like Hollywood's idea of the Quarter Latin – at least a half dozen of the restaurants and bars are mentioned in serious guidebooks. With them all being so close together the ones not noted must be making some effort to keep up. At the moment street works have made the rue Guisarde almost impassable. There's a sign on a barricade that says, "Le Jardin des Pierres – sens de la visite —>"

photo, sign, place de l'institut

The Languid Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with no members are fine with me, because I get to sit and do nothing for two hours. I would rather hear your stories so there's something to report even if it's silly. Regular members and new candidates are therefore welcome. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 105% new, will be on 24. July, a few days after the fantastic Paris–Plages begins. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome even if you feel like lying on the sand across the street.

A rumor that repetition here will end someday is totally false. Two marvellous facts and three utter rumors about the club are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who have actually read it, and one or two may have, may already be club members without personal risk or other exorbitant fees.

photo, sign, solar powered cap with air conditioningSolar powered cap with air conditioning.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some of you have might have been thinking that it is especially appropriate to remember that it was today in 356 BC that a young dude named Herostratus set the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus on fire and burned down one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Like a modern terrorist he claimed authorship of the act. To dissuade copycats the authorities offed him and forbade anyone, under penalty of death, to mention his name. However the historian Theopompus spilled the beans and that's why I'm not worried. Then about five hundreds years later, in 285, the Roman head cheese Diocletian appointed Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius , called Maximian for short, as Caesar and later upped him to Augustus. Diocletian was the brains of this duo and Maximian the brawn. How did it end? Why the two of them retired at the same time, and well, retired. The lowest temperature ever recorded on this date was –89.2 C at the Russian station Vostok in Antarctica , in 1983. Forget the Siebenjährigen Krieg and consider this quote: "Everyone has talent at twenty–five. The difficulty is to have it at fifty," Edgar Degas said. That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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