Paris Has Woes While Disneyland Glows

cafe Hotel de Ville
One of the cafés you'll find if you look over your shoulder.

Plus Francophonie, Commies and the 'A'-Klasse Sports

Paris:- Saturday, 15. November 1997:- Seventy percent of the French go on holidays, which is a big gain over the decade of the '70's. However, in the last five years the percent has not risen and in some areas has even gone backwards.

In 1996, only two out of three French went visiting. Considered to be something from which nobody is excluded, in tough times it turns out to be a luxury and is therefore optional.

Less than 35 percent of the French make three-quarters of all the trips. On average, these few go on 13 trips per year; even if only to weekend homes. Altogether they are away from their main residence for 64 nights annually.

Fully 20 percent never leave home; not even for an overnight. The young unemployed can't afford it and neither can older pensioners.

Although you get the impression that France is a country crazed by winter sports and skiing; nobody who makes less than 10,000 francs a month can afford it. It means that there are a concentration of Parisians who mob the autoroutes and train stations - while the rest of the country sits at home watching the surfing videos that are shown following the evening weather reports on TV.

But the really bad news is in the cultural sector. Since 1991, attendance at Paris' main sites has not merely stagnated, but has dropped drastically - 30 percent on average. Just like that: a million fewer people visit Versailles each year.

While the state secretary for tourism is anxiously waiting for a report to be published next month about this, Euro Disney which runs Disneyland Paris has said that its attendance went up 7.7 percent in a year, to total 12.6 million. Revenues were up 10.2 percent and profits increased by a healthy 7.5 percent.

While Disney noted that each visitor spent exactly four francs more, that is multiplied by 12.6 million. The re-visit rate is high at 34 cafe Saint-Jacques percent and they managed to get good numbers in the first six months of the year, which they consider as their low season.

An authentic Paris café - from which replicas can be made.

Britons, Italians and Spanish added 900,000 visitors to the park; and I have noted the increase in the number of Italians and Spanish around while riding the métro. If I mention this to anybody, they say I am imagining it.

Disney is doing what Paris isn't. For its fifth anniversary the park ran an almost non-stop promotion and it added new features. Both of these actions cost a pile of money to do; but they look as if they are worth it.

How much custom Disneyland gets from Paris is a good question. If the average spent per visitor per day is 251 francs, for a four-head family that adds up to a 1000 francs plus the fare to get there.

I would think the same people who can't afford to go skiing, can't afford Disneyland Paris either - and are thinking twice about going to the Musée d'Orsay as well.

Francophonie Is Alive and Well in Hanoi

What was in question in Hanoi last week, was the "renforcement de la cooperation et de la solidarité francophones, pour la paix et le développement économique et social;" which I am not sure is actually a sentence.

At any rate, 48 delegations from five continents were in Hanoi to talk about talking French. The president of France, Jacques Chirac, is also sort of the world leader of 'Francophonie' and he is reported to have said, "Osons le dire: la francophonie est une entreprise résolument politique..." and he continued, "Chacun perçoit la portée historique de cet acte. Désormais, la francophonie aura une voix et un visage."

This is only a fragment of what else he said during the other 29 minutes of his discourse before the assembled delegations, which was interrupted twice by applause.

The second time was when he announced that France had decided to raise its contribution to francophonie by 42 million francs - for each of the next two years.

In return, the president requested that French be used by international organizations. In fact, he told the delegates that they should insist on its usage, saying it was a right.

In Vietnam, about one percent of its population of 75 million speak French. This country is a neighbor to a country where 975 million of its inhabitants speak Chinese.

The numbers of Japanese, German and French speakers in the world is about equal at around 125 million each; and the three rank individually in about 10th place.

Spanish and Portuguese speakers, if put together, outnumber English speakers by a good margin - although English is considered to be in the number two spot after Chinese.

Death of Georges Marchais On Sunday

Sunday Update:- This morning I was caught with another unmade obit file when long-time French Communist leader, Georges Marchais, died. He was 77.

He ran the Communist Party in France for a quarter-century, from the time of Stalin's inheritors to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was elected party secretary in 1972 after having joined the party officially in 1947. He ran Georges Marchais against François Mitterrand for president in 1981 and lost by a wide margin in a three-way race.

January 1994 and Georges Marchais steps down as party secretary. Robert Hue is to his left.
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