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France Is Holding Its Breath

Paris:- Saturday, 22. June 1996:- 'Comme ci, comme ça' is what the weather is called, although I have never heard anybody use this phrase. Only so-so. Nice days, windy and stormy days, with a fair amount of change - just as we have a fair amount of news this week.

Euro '96 Football

Even though France's loss to Holland in the quarter finals of the Euro '96 Cup football tournament tonight, was discounted in advance with headlines early in the week with 'The Right to Lose!' - the French team confounded the nation, by winning.

In regulation time the two teams battered away at each other with no success to zero each, and in an overtime sudden-death shootout, France scored the last shot and gained a five to four victory at 22:05 over Holland and an entry ticket to the semi-finals.

As I write, rockets are blazing into the night sky, horns are tooting, petards are exploding - while spirits are probably lower than sea level in the low country. I even hear chanting. In the semi-finals, France will face the UK or Germany at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, 26. June at 20:30 CET. The final will be played at Wembley on Sunday, 30. June.

Fête de la Musique

Friday's 21. June Fête de la Musique was heard all over town all day - and night. The 'new' SNCF blitzed the Ile-de-France region with copious advertising for extra trains, running all night, and probably won a lot of new friends with a flat-rate tariff of 12 francs round-trip, good until 10:00 this morning.

Newspapers printed the program in Friday's editions with Le Parisien having a list for Paris by arrondissements and Libération having the national program. Big concerts happened only at République, which apparently got 40,000 rock fans.

When I passed the Air France office on the Champs-Elysées yesterday there was a rock and roll band playing inside, a block further on there were two 'ethnics' in front of the Maison d'Alsace. Just about every little square and small place had something musical happening - in addition to the guy usually playing the cello in the métro at Etoile.

Libération's Music URLs :
-Brassens: -Brel: -Gainsbourg: -Miossec: -Rap:


voievelo.jpg (13k) Bicycle Lanes

On Wednesday, the City of Paris allotted 5.5 kilometres to 1.5 metre-wide lanes on city streets specifically for bicycles. The marked route starts at the Assemblé Nationale and runs east on the boulevard St. Germain, turns left at St. Michel, and runs northwards up Sébasto to Gare de l'Est.

The city hopes to have a total of 25 kms of bike lanes in operation by the end of summer. Nothing is perfect however. I noted that on the boulevard St. Michel the lane is temporarily suspended on account of construction blocking the other side of the street. Besides a marker on the pavement, there are blue signs with a silhouette of a bicycle - in case motorists can't see the one on the road.

Try as I might, by reading a whole week's worth of bicycle sports news, do you think I can find a concrete start date of this year's Tour de France? The closest I could get was one oblique mention of it being a week from a couple of days ago - which will make it this coming Saturday or Sunday, either the 29. or 30. June; but before our next issue date.

Important Birthday

This July, the bikini will turn 50. The designer Louis Réard could not find a model to show off his invention, but a dancer at the Casino de Paris, Micheline Bernardini stepped out of her clothes and into history, allowing herself to be photographed holding a box of matches, at the Piscine Molitor. In a report in its 6. July 1946 edition, Paris Matin said, 'Casino de Paris nude dancer, Mlle Bernardini obtained a lively success. Her suspicion of a bathing suit, baptized 'bikini,' caused an explosion of applase.'

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