Not So Déjà Vu

photo, sundown on paris plage, seine, pont neuf When the Riviera is in Paris.

Paris–Plages 2008

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 28. July:–  The silence of absent Parisians is nearly deafening. All the tapping, banging, crashing, shredding, ripping – hold it, that's enough exaggeration – it hasn't been that bad. July is the month that everyone uses for their renovations and the guys doing the renovations want their holidays too, so it's full speed in July. If they don't get finished in time then Bob is not your uncle, and the tapping resumes in September. Meanwhile, in August, I don't know what happens. Do folks camp in their unfinished apartments? Or do they go on picnics around Paris all month?

Just in case, in this issue there are some photos of this year's Paris–Plages and for those unable to inhabit their apartments, there's some more about picnics. Golly, it almost sounds as if I planned this issue. Far from it. I just went out to play cowboys and cameras on Wednesday, topped up a couple more shots on Thursday and I think I was on strike on Friday on account of it being the 25th and having no invitation to help Nicolas Sarkozy have a tour d'horizon with Barack Obama. However the weather is not on strike – er, I mean, for a change there's a storm warning tonight.

Any Old Thing Means Paris–Plages

photo, under palms, lounging Lazy palms in the Luxembourg.

It just goes to show that July can be summery when it wants to be and it can go overboard and become humid, and now it is, so rah squish rah. According to tonight's TV–weather warning, we are supposed to be wearing our umbrellas because there will be lots of sudden rain and lightening and thunder, crash, boom. And this is exactly what's happened. I can't tell if it was as serious as the warning. It's dark out. I can see the Tour Montparnasse but so what? It's not like being able to see the Tour Eiffel is it? That hulking Montparnasse thing is in the way. There's no poetry in it.

Tonight's TV–weather was to the point, once the dire warning was out of the way. Today it was about 31 degrees here on the pharmacy sign. Tuesday was forecast to be semi–sunny with at high of 27 degrees. Meaning, I guess, less humid than today. On Wednesday it should be mostly sunny, with a high of 30. Uh–oh. Thursday was predicted to be another sunny day with another high of 30. Will this be the heatwave that has been forecast for the past five years? Will it instead be raining on Thursday? Or merely humid, suitable for a picnic?

This week Météo Jim does a file Anglais which is about what the Brits say about the French. Here is Jim's latest, a blatant blanket of wet wool meant to cover a whole two weeks. Enlighten yourselves:–

photo, sign, torte des fruits

Hoochikoochistan Blessed

The last weekend of July is here along with the Dog Star Sirius. Next weekend will kick off the final month of summer and the unveiling of September and La Rentrée for les Paris Plageois.

Mr. and Mrs. Météo Jim are going on vacation to the distant and exotic – actually, toxic describes the place much better – land of Upper Lesser Hoochikoochistan for the annual meeting of virtual weather reporters. We will be back when we return.

photo, sign, paris plages 2008

In the meantime Pommeland's weather for the coming week is a repeat of most of July. Temperatures in the mid to upper 80s a–grad along with thunderdonnergeboomersohrengesplitters in the afternoons.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

Not So Stale

Many folks probably think that the month–long effort to turn a large swath of Paris into a café terrace with deck chairs might be kind of stale by now. All you have to do is go down there on a pleasant evening when there is a gentle breeze floating over the Seine with an orange glow in the west, the aftermath of the sun dropping over the edge of the Atlantic.

If it is clear the stripes on the little cabins vibrate, the palms hang silhouetted in the purple sky with their fronds imitating spiky diamonds, and the sightseeing boats lumber along in the swell, carrying their cargos of marine diners.

photo, baby foot, paris plage sportContact sports on Paris–Plages.

You can't see the sun go down over the river because it drops behind the Louvre, the Grand Palais or the Arc de Triomphe, which you can't see either. If it is clear there is increasing orange until it fades away. Before it goes the contrast hikes and the saturation jumps, the surface of the river deepens to marine blue, graduated to silver to the west. The green of the trees on both left and right banks fades to black as the lights come on at the Musée d'Orsay, the windows changing from gold sparkles to warm yellow dots. Green and red traffic lights shine through the leaves.

The sails, these narrow stripes of blue, change color too. The whole thing is a gigantic color show, never the same from minute to minute and never the same from one night to the next. The Conciegerie across the water, a great stone pile with turrets, can be rusty then golden, then dropped into the blue of the night until one of the boats come past and lights it up. That always looks like show, somehow bogus.

photo, paris plage under sunlight The longest terrace in Paris.

A lot of Parisians are down there on the 48–weeks–a–year speedway, transformed into a terrace. They are on foot, pushing their offspring in strollers, on roller skates, riding bicycles. At some spots they are standing, watching some entertainment. At some spots they are participating. Playing baby–foot, boules, dancing, singing, playing, and like other terraces, sitting around and having some drinks. There are concerts some evenings. Some of it is pop or rock, or it might be somebody with an accordion. I saw one old dude giving dancing lessons under one of the bridges. He brought his own music machine for it.

In the evening you will not see the fog showerheads cooling down the air. But they are on during the day and folks play with them. More color, more reflections. There are different attractions all along the length, and they draw different types. All along there are lots of lounging possibilities and nowhere is there enough space for sports to be tiresome. Just as on a café terrace.

photo, fog machine, paris plage A bit of fog for the overheated.

The best thing, I guess, is that's there's room for all. Plenty of folks avoid Paris–Plages because they are snooty. They sit on the island quays, on the Ile de la Cité or on the Ile Saint–Louis, or on the facing Left Bank quays, where there is more dancing. They could also be at the waterside by the Tour Eiffel or by the big library in the 13th, across from Bercy. Paris–Plages itself has an annex on the canal Saint–Martin, up by the métro Stalingrad. Something goes on in front of the Hôtel de Ville too. Snooty or not, there's something for everybody. Did I say all this is free?

photo, sign, propriete de la compagnie parisienne

The Wanderlustly Café Metropole Club

Club meetings with members are fine with me. I can read Le Parisien some other time. I want to hear your stories so there's something to report even if it's silly. Regular members and new candidates are therefore warned. The next Thursday that everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 105% new, will be on 31. July, a few days before the begin of fantastic August. All members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome even if you feel like sitting on the sand across the street.

photo, sign, fish spewing white water

A vile rumor that repetition here will end someday has been debunked. One marvellous fact and two 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.

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 754 that a young dude named Pépin le Bref was crowed Roi des Francs at Saint–Denis by Pope Etienne II. Also known as Pépin III, he was called Bref because he was short. His dad was Charles Martel and he was the father of Charlemagne. Moving smartly ahead through time we salute this date in 1586 when the first potato arrived in Britain. Beats me why anybody would remember this on this date but there you have it. It took about 50 years for the potato to get from Seville to the UK. It took the French another 150 years to consider it fit to eat. Finally, on this date in 1794 the guillotine claimed the neck of Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, one of 1285 to lose their hatracks. Thus the Terror ended, and now the two parts of Robespierre are supposed to be in the Catacombs, practically under my feet. That's our little world, folks!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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