Sunday, 27 January 2008

Municipal selections, rue Cler

Crisp winter sunshine today brought out the sunglasses on rue Cler, and gaggles of flaneurs, Sunday sauntering in groups. Part of it is because of the municipal elections coming up, so sincere young men and women have converged to hawk their parties’ brochures, the Front National leaflet warning about clandestine immigrants, another promising cheaper lodging for young families and better handicap access in the 7th arrondissement. Yet another suggests a Velib service for cars, an Autolib, with 2,000 cars available for short-term uses, I like it! Can it work? Berlin tried it at one point, but that was back in the alternative 80s.

More municipal talk with Brendan, Pat and Damen, about capital gains taxes – the difference between handing 33% of profit vs 50% of profit to the state depends on whether you look like a speculator or not, doesn’t matter whether you are French or an EU resident. US stateside, Obama has won South Carolina, looks like the next US president will be either an idealist/Obama, an insider/Clinton or a hawk/McCain.

Meanwhile, a group in the street facing Tribeca has started arguing politics but I can’t understand the dialogue because there is a bilingual group at the table next to me, with a very LOUD American. Makes me feel like a Front Nationaliste…

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Smoke-Free Paris

Omigosh - yes, the cafes and restaurants are now clean and clear, no more wafts of smoke floating through the wine or cigarettes waved under my nose, or smoke-saturated clothes to be aired at home. While regretting the loss of this oh-so-Parisian motif, it will be lovely to just choose a cafe, any cafe, instead of monitoring for breathability before sitting down.

But guess what? The smokers are claiming the terraces! Guess it should have been expected. Instead of the smoke evaders sitting out in the fresh air for morning coffee, we are now better off inside, while the smokers are claiming the sidewalk.

So this morning Tribeca's terrace was almost full by 10:30. Although perhaps that is because of the New Year rentree. Everyone has returned from the holidays and shopping to refill the fridge. So rue Cler was lively again, with crisp sunshine, the music buskers and shouting vendors, strollers and shoppers, dogs and babies, brand new scooters, a few shiny fur coats. What will 2008 bring? At least it won't bring a Starbuck's to rue Cler!