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Toulouse is a bit far from both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, so the Diagonale Café on the place des Carmes has some surfboards leaning against the outside and a 20 centimetre deep layer of beach sand inside. Customers are invited to at least wear bathing suits, but need not wear shoes.

On second thought, Toulouse is not all that far from the two seas. Their autoroute is called 'Autoroute des Deux-Mers' after all.

The Métro - Paris' Speedway

Parisians and visitors combined take over a billion trips on the métro each year. The reason is simple: its average speed is 26.8 kph. On the surface, in traffic, it can be anything from zero to 80 kph.

Once you are on the platform, you can calculate your travel time pretty closely by counting the number of stations on your route, because the average time between stations is two minutes.

What can throw off perfect timing are métro access routes. The walk from the Champs-Elysées to the platform on line one, somewhere under Etoile, is long. Métro station Abbesses, on the side of Montmartre, is deep. You can wait a long time for the elevator or walk up the 36 metres to the surface.

Not such good news is the August rise in public transport fares. The good old 'carnet' of ten métro tickets goes up from 46 francs to 48; which is still a good deal, especially if you are paying for them with dollars.

Free Parking in Paris?

During the month of August, parking is free on streets classed as residential. You can tell these are free if their parcometres have a yellow dot pasted to them.

The other half of the page-long report in Le Parisien, lists all the exceptions - where parking is not free in August. Parking is generally not free in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th and tenth arrondissements.

In the remainder of Paris' arrondissements, most major streets and especially those with many shops, are not free either. Some parking-ticket ladies I talked to a couple of weeks ago, assured me they would be on the job in August - so watch out for the yellow dots.

French TV's Summer Program

The 1964 film 'Angélique, Marquise des Anges,' starring the lovely Michèle Mercier, was shown early in the month on state TV's France 3. If you were unlucky enough to miss it, be sure to plan your next visit to France in two year's time when it will probably be shown again; as it has been broadcast in past summers on an average of once every two or three years.

Any other older French movies you want to catch up on are most likely programmed for sometime this summer too just as they have been for past summers. This goes Church near Versailles for popular TV series, both French and foreign. M6 has been showing the 'Little House on the Prairie' non-stop since 1988.

M6's programming is directed to the 15-40 age group and the network's program director claims none of their viewers watch TV in the summer, not even M6.

A modest village church, closer to Saint-Germain.

This is obviously untrue as Le Parisien found a number of readers who are not happy with the re-runs. Some are philosophical about it and say they are staying outside anyway; and others suggest buying the video versions so these old chestnuts can be viewed comfortably in winter. Readers in hospitals and jails were not consulted.

Tour de France Wrap-Up

Last Monday, 15,000 delirious fans filled Bonn's modest Rathausplatz, to greet this year's winner of the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich. The pink pastels of the Rathaus itself gave the TV coverage the air of a happy end to a Disney film, with colorful banners and clouds of balloons rising in the bright sun.

The festivities were short, because Ullrich was back in the saddle again at Boxmeer in Holland by the afternoon.


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