Bernard Tapie's Hard Times

La Grappe Doree

French Ask: What's the Use of Internet?

Paris:- Saturday, 7. June 1997:- Bernard Tapie was not on a pleasure visit to Paris last week when he heard a court refuse his appeal on a fraud conviction, and order him the serve a six month's jail sentence, with 30 months suspended.

This time the affair concerned his boat, the Phocea, a four-masted luxury sailing yacht, nominally owned by a company in Tahiti. Two successive managers of the holding company received suspended sentences.

As the decision was read out, Mr. Tape took it calmly, but as he was lead out of court by two gendarmes, he whispered to one of his lawyers that it was as if they hadn't appealed at all. Ever the fighter, he promised to take his appeal to France's highest court.

If the high court agrees to hear this appeal, the sentence will be put on hold, probably for a year. But next month, a court in Marseille will decide if he is going to spend two years in prison on his conviction in the football game-fix affair. Then other possibilities open up or close down - taking into account Bike Day in Paris that there are three convictions in three different cases in three different courts, plus a couple of on-going appeals.

It was bike day in Paris today without me even noticing it until this evening's TV-news on France 2.

One complicated game-plan even has Mr. Tapie receiving the grace of a traditional presidential amnesty this coming 14. July, but I find this somewhat farfetched. Mr. Tapie's various prosecutors are all asking for consecutive sentences these days, rather than concurrent.

To Internet or Not to Internet

This is a passionate subject of conversation these days in France, according to Le Parisien. One is for it or against it, one is alarmed by it or one welcomes it; some see it as a marvelous tool and others just as another media among many.

But one thing the French do not do is go online. The reality is that only about one percent are wired in this country.

There have been many Internet 'Salons' each year, and one can wonder what their purpose is when all of them charge for admittance and some as much as 100 francs, as one was doing last week. The Foire de Paris is much cheaper, and you can see Internet in real use there.

On the whole, Le Parisien is pretty positive about the Internet, even though the headline over the article explaining what it is, puts is this way: "Internet, What Use is It?"

The paper trots out the usual 600,000 number of French Internet subscribers, and adds that 700 million are connected worldwide. The paper says it is possible to send electronic messages to all of these, without an envelope or a stamp. Other possibilities proposed are 'surfing' on the Web, and downloading software, as well as all sorts of information. The paper also admits that while English may be the dominant language of the Net, there are some perfectly French sites.

What the paper neglects to say is that it has a Web site of its own; perhaps because it has not made up its corporate mind whether it is 'for' it or 'against' it.

Meanwhile, I have long been curious about Metropole's getting approximately 20 percent of its readership coming in through French ISPs. An acquaintance told me that a neighbor reads Metropole every week as an English lesson.

If this is in fact the case, I want to make something clear. If you are doing this, do not try to pass any test with the English you pick up here; and in turn, I will propose none.

The Louvre Opens a New Wing

Some department stores add new departments by switching the articles for sale in a certain area of the store, or they expand by opening up satellite stores. The Louvre does neither.

Since 1981 the Louvre has been engaged in an operation called the 'Grand Louvre.' Seven years afterwards, the first step was achieved with the opening of the Cour Napoléon. The Pyramid was inaugurated a year later. The Richelieu wing was inaugurated in 1993 and the fashion museum opened last year.

Yesterday, part of the rooms in the south-side Denon wing were opened to display the Louvre's Italian collection; which includes paintings from the 13th to the beginning of the 16th centuries. These include some of the museum's bd Montparnasse stars - its Leonardos, its Giottos, its Capaccios and its Raphaëls - all presented in new light and space.

Some people look at the sky while waiting for buses on the boulevard Montparnasse. Other people watch people who are looking at the sky.

When the work on the 'Grand Louvre' comes to an end in 1998, 30,000 square metres of space will have been renovated and this will bring the total size of the museum to 60,000 square metres. Then, the public will have to be satisfied with 35,000 objects on view, which it might be since a lot of them have been in storage.

As yet, there is no word about whether visitors will be allowed to wear roller-skates while looking things over.

Sports News Re-Suspended

On account of no French finalists in the Roland Garros tournament, which I think is as good as excuse as any - even though I never watch tennis nor play it.


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