The Weather again, a 'Grand Depart' Weekend,
Danger and Taxes

by Ric Erickson
Number 1.02 - Metropole Paris Friday, 1. March 1996:- Experienced editors do not give themselves assignments to write a regular column; they are supposed to know better. If they, in a fit of irrational stupidity, do make such a mistake, they soon resort to grabbing items out of Dr Arnold Stoiber's Annual Almanac (since 1847) for tips on what to blather about this week, or day... And that takes care of this week's Paris weather.

The Salon de l'Agriculture still has its doors open, and will continue until Sunday evening. The Salon du Fromage came and went. The Eurotools Salon went nearly unnoticed, except that I know I did not get near it.

The first of March this year is significant in Paris and in France for two reasons. School holiday start today in the Ile de France region, and every taxpayer's tax declaration for 1995 is due at the tax office on Monday.

Having two week's worth of winter holidays start three weeks before the first day of spring may seem to be cutting it a bit fine, but we must not joke about this. Winter sport is serious - for those that can afford it. For those that make their living from it, it is even more serious.

Fortunately, there are the nearby Alps, and slightly further away, the Pyrenees. Unfortunately, three 'zones' are going at the same time (I must find out about these 'zones'); all going to try and squeeze past Lyon tomorrow, and as today's Le Parisien puts it, "Samedi sera, en effect la journée 'rouge' par excellence." Which means it will be a black day for motorists. For once they get far into the Rhône-Alps region, there will only be two-lane blacktop - or two-lane snowtop, although snow is not predicted for tomorrow.

In order to reduce the traffic on the Paris-Lyon A6 autoroute, the Paris-Troyes A5 autoroute is offering a 50 F saving off the cost of the A6 - (info: tel. 05 06 55 55). Whichever route you choose, be sure to take reading materials to while away the time spent waiting at tollbooths.

It is a big weekend for the SNCF as well. 1500 trains will carry 800,000 passengers away from Paris' six stations this weekend, and the SNCF has warned that regularly scheduled trains leaving from Gare de Lyon, may depart from other stations. (Info. Tel.45 65 60 00 or Minitel 3615 SNCF)

The only advice I can give, about what to do while in the mountains, is this: stay home and keep dry. Mountains are dangerous places because of the kind of weather they have. They are nice to look at from a safe distance though. The other big event of this first March weekend is doing you French tax returns - the declaration of income for 1995. This is always due on the 28th of February. Year after year the 28th falls on Wednesday to Friday, and the date is always extended to the following Monday. This year, the freebie leap year extra day, the 29th was added yesterday, so the deadline is now semi officially, Monday, 4. March.

The bad part is having to do these silly rotten things at all, but the good part this year, is that the deadline weekend coincides with the school depart, so you may actually be able to find a photocopier free tomorrow. One should avoid sending original documents, because one day - it may be soon, it may be years from now - you will have to produce those originals again, or photocopies of them. Believe me.

For further tax adventures and folklore, see the 'Au Bistro' column in this week's Metropole.

The Palais Garnier reopens today, after being closed for 18 months for renovations. For fans of opera, dance, music, they can jump right in tonight with the concert version of Don Giovanni, to be conducted on this occasion by Sir Georg Solti.

I am fifteen minutes over the deadline, so I can't include highlight events of the coming month, as was my intention. Maybe I'll just try to do the 'coming week' in the future; in any case Norman Barth's 'The Paris Pages - Les Pages de Paris' carries the complete version of the Paris Tourist Office's monthly calendar.

A bientôt.

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