The Usual Summer Un-News

Cafe-Bar L'Estaminet, on Oberkampf
The photo of the bar-café l'Estaminet on Oberkampf
is not tilted; it's the street.

Versailles To Ask For Billions

Paris:- Saturday, 12. July 1997:- I usually have a fair passion for news, for reading the lines and between them - but I think I must be getting to be French. As mid-July approaches, I care less for looking for the nutty stuff which I like the most. The serious stuff is rare and what there is, is unreal or uninteresting.

My kids now have some new favorite TV program, which for some reason runs about 12 minutes into the beginning of the evening news on TV, and the nightly fight for control of the stupid thing has worn me out.

Although radio France-Info continues to blare non-stop news, their recycle-time is shorter because there is less of it and it is even more annoying than usual. However, there is nothing local happening, so it is just as well I can't seem to pay attention to it.

Typical News in France in Mid-July

Orange Card

Whoever is responsible for these things, has announced that the Paris' oldest house price of the Paris region Orange Card is going up on the first of August. This is a routine announcement made every year at this time because whoever makes it hasn't got the guts to do it when people who have to buy the monthly ticket are in town.

Radioactivity

Greenpeace took samples of the water around an outlet pipe which dumps junk from France's 'la Hague' plutonium factory into the sea, had it tested in Hamburg and says it is radioactive. The government said that it is not that radioactive and to prove it promptly closed that area of its territorial waters to commercial fishermen, swimmers and people who used to loll around that particular beach.

At right, the oldest house in Paris is holding up well in the rue Volta. It has a 'history' but I do not feel like looking it up this year.

Amnesty

Every 14. of July, the President of the République of France declares an amnesty and this year 3,840 prisoners are slated for early release. As with everything else official in France, this act is bound and gagged by 567 'ifs,' 'ands,' and 'buts.' France only has about 55,000 citizens in jail, but jails are miserably over-crowded because France long ago decided to not build any more and invested in nuclear power plants instead.

Part of the reason for the summer-timed 'amnesty' is to reduce the prison population in hopes that prisoners will not burn down their jails. This hope is seldom realized.

The Grandest 'Depart' of All

Yesterday and today, an estimated three million French residents locked up their houses and apartments and two million of them hit the road Motorcycle cruisin' in France for the holidays. The other million got to hang around train stations and airports until their departures. It seems as if more and more are taking the four weeks from mid-July to mid-August, rather than either the whole months of July or August.

If this couple are departing, then they are travelling light.

If you listen to the advice broadcast about the best time to leave; you should ignore it. A lot of travellers follow the official advice religiously and the result is that they all go then instead of when they are not supposed to. I always get it mixed up and go at the advertised 'worst' time, and usually the traffic is not too bad.

We Need a Revolution!

This is Le Parisien's odd headline over a story in Friday's editions about Versailles plea for two billion francs to fix itself up like Sculpture by Agustin Cardenas / Ville de Paris expo the other 'grand' projects have done for the Louvre and the Very Grand Bibliothèque.

Versailles seems to consider its main rival to be the Louvre, but aside from the unlikely idea of moving Versailles to downtown Paris, I do not think it will get two billion in the near future, even if it is for a 'grand' project stretching over ten years.

At right, one of Agustin Cardenas' sculptures, on display at the Convent des Cordeliers, 15. rue de l'Ecole, Paris 6. On view until 31. August daily except Mondays. Photo by Aurelio Amendola.

The château gets about 3.2 million visitors a year and another six to eight million visit the park, which doesn't seem too shabby to me. A little bit of renovation goes on there all the time and new attractions are announced periodically. I think Versailles' main problem is that it is not a replica, and it doesn't lend itself to the installation of hotels in the park or have room for golf courses like Disneyland has.

And, Disneyland got its TGV station, which is part of a nice loop around east Paris. Versailles is stuck with its old lines from the earliest railroad days; although I haven't heard any recent complaints about the RER line 'C' which used to be notoriously unreliable. With Montparnasse running TGV's out to the southwest full blast, I don't think any of the rail gang has Versailles in mind as a possible destination

Versailles should forget the 'grand' Louvre and start to worry about Fontainebleau, whose mayor has just announced building a - guess! - pyramid right in front of the château.

Write Home If You Get Work

Visiting Paris and missing your online fix? Wander over to the The Web Bar, a cybercafe third arrondissement and pay a visit to the Web Bar where you can go online to send or receive eMail, surf the Net, have a pie and a drink. The online business costs 40 francs per hour; but it is hardly the only activity available - there's a gallery, cinema, theatre, and of course, a bar-café. Located in an old factory, the address is 32, rue de Picardie, right beside the Marché Carreaux du Temple. Métro stop: either Temple or République.

Other News

Is mostly about paying more taxes, including a withdrawal of the reduction expected for the last payment for 1996. This will give people something to talk about in September when they are paying for the 'return-to-school' at the same time.

Sports News is Sort of Off Again

Pétanque

The world championships may still be under way in Marseilles, according to Wednesday's Le Parisien. The paper is quite lyrical about how the contestants loft the boules; but neglects to give the score. Maybe they play until it gets cold or until the pastis runs out.

La 84e Edition de la Tour de France

Radio France-Info is following this modest sporting event with minute-by-minute coverage, so I can't stand it anymore. I think the Web site is supplied by L'Equipe, France's sports daily, so if you want details on the race this is the place to get it.

If this year's Tour de France interests you, there is a full-service Web site in French as well as in English, which contains far more information than you could hope to ask for - unless you are a 'true' fan, of course.


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