Another Funeral in Paris

bar le Dimey
A bistro in the rue des Abbesses.

Mondiales and Euros, Fakes and Asterix

Paris:- Saturday, 29. November 1997:- The singer known in France as Barbara died last Tuesday at the age of 67. Ironically, her photograph is all over Paris because her record company just put a re-compilation of her hits songs on the market on Wednesday, 12. November. The new CD is called 'Femme Piano.'

Barbara started her career in Brussels in 1952 and a year later she was appearing in Paris at L'Ecluse. After an eclipse of several years she was back on the scene in 1957 at the Chez Moineau cabaret and in 1962 she recorded, 'Dis, Quand Reviendras-Tu?' The 33 rpm LP followed a year later, entitled, 'Barbara Chant Barbara.'

After that she got a recording contract; and in 1970 sang, 'L'Aigle Noir.' In '71 she played in the movie 'Franz' with Jacques Brel. She often did live shows, appearing at the Olympia in 1969, at the Zenith with Gérard Depardieu in 'Lily Passion' in 1986, at Châtelet, and at the Mogador.

Philips brought out a collection set of CDs in 1992, containing 260 of her songs. In 1993 she was forced to interrupt a series of concerts at Châtelet and she did her last tour, finishing in March of 1994 at Tours. Her last solo album Brasserie Champerret came out in 1996 and was called, 'Barbara,' on the Mercury label.

Barbara moved to the countryside in Seine-et-Marne in 1973 and in the last years of her illnesses communicated with the world by fax.

A pleasanr-looking bar-restaurant at Porte de Champerret.

Nicknamed ' la longue dame brune,' she always dressed in black. According to Le Parisien her early beginnings were not well-known and she remained 50 percent secret all her life, yet she had fans she didn't know existed - until when the curtain fell at Châtelet, and a chorus of teens in the audience spontaneously sang, 'Dis, Quand Reviendras-Tu?'

Barbara was buried Thursday morning at the cemetery at Bagneux, accompanied by the entire world of Parisian entertainment, government ministers and ex-ministers, and about 2,000 nameless fans, under an overcast sky.

The Dismal Report of the Cour des Comptes

This is the equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office in the United States, but its annual report does not usually feature fifty buck toilette seats.

The 522 page report for 1997 focuses on 22 particular cases, but Le Parisien's report does not include a global figure for the waste and fraud of public funds - saying merely that the total is 'tens of billions' of francs.

For the first time, part of the report is dedicated to Chemperret intersection listing various legal measures taken to recover the money, or punish those responsible for its waste or disappearance.

Night at the Champerret instersection.

What is also missing from the report itself, according to Le Parisien, is any account of the other units of fiscal controls, nor is there any mention of gigantic financial scandals such as the sorry case of the state-owned bank, Crédit Lyonnais.

The poor little Poste gets it in the neck - as beginners in the money markets Le Poste managed to lose 765 million francs in 1993 and 1994.

Hold Your Hats - Here Comes the Euro!

While odd-ball dissenters across the channel continue to mumble about having another referendum or two, on the continent the mints are busily turning out Euro coins and the presses are running non-stop churning out Euro notes.

We are to be bombarded by Euros to such an extent that when they arrive we will be sick of them and wish for a return to 'old' francs, the ones we used to take to the boulangerie in wheelbarrows.

Last week the Minister of the Economy, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, showed off the newly minted five cent, the fifty cent and the one euro pieces. Between 1999 and 2002 the franc and the euro will co-exist, and in 2003 it will be 'goodbye francs.'

Actually, it is confusing, because the paper says we will be able pay with 'euros,' cheques in euros and make electronic transfers in euros, and pay with new Euro notes euro banknotes after 1. January 2002. I am going to read one of the 23 million brochures, just printed, which is supposed to explain this.

The brochure says the value of the euro will be 'fixed' on 1. January 1999, and today is valued at about 6.61 francs, or about two DM. The dollar was worth 1.21 euros on Friday.

Another new version of the 'Euro' notes to tempt us.

We can call the new 'cents' centimes if we want. There will be one and two cent pieces, as well as five, ten and twenty. On each coin, one side will be 'euro' and the same throughout the community while the reverse side will be 'national' - in France's case it will have 'RF' on it.

Okay, the brochure says it is going to take three years to print 2.5 billion paper notes and mint 6.6 billion coins.

Latest polls indicate that the French are now 'in favor' of the euro with 57 percent saying they will accept it. Six months ago there were only 49 percent in favor.

A Christmas catalogue came through here the other day and all prices in it were printed in both francs and euros.

Crime Watch: Fake Orange Tickets

The special police charged with protecting the rails swooped down on a little printing plant in the Val-de-Marne Monday and picked up a guy carrying brand-new plates for printing the new Orange Card tickets. The new counterfeit-proof ticket had been put into circulation only four days earlier.

In a long investigation, the detectives climbed up the chain of the resellers and fences, to arrive at the press. There they found 5,000 tickets ready to go - with face values of from 120 francs to over 500 each.

The man arrested has no previous record. With the equipment found in the printing plant, police estimate the gang had been putting out 4,000 tickets a month, for the last 18 months. Police also found 200 kilos worth of rolls of stolen carton, the same as used for printing the real tickets.

Police also found fake 100 franc notes, and thousands of the new 200 franc notes, plus the plates and films. Better yet, films necessary for making plates for printing the brand-new US 100 dollar notes, were recovered.

Police reportedly estimated the gang had put 150 million francs worth of tickets and currency into circulation. Two other men are being sought.

Asterix May Want You

If you can handle a sword and cape, do music hall and some elastical acrobatics, then you might be someone the Parc Asterix is looking for to do stunts. They have on-the-job training for their specific needs, for the right people. You must be available in January and under 26 years old. Send a CV, flattering photo, and a letter outlining why you want to do capers for a living, to Parc Asterix, Cécile Croquin, BP 8, 60128 Plailly, France; and quote the reference 0028PA2, and not me.

The Trial of Maurice Papon

The trial of Maurice Papon for crimes against humanity is expected to get underway again this coming Wednesday, 4. December.

A court-appointed doctor who examined him assured the court that Mr. Papon would be there in spite of Mr. Papon's lawyer warning that his client will be too weak to take the stand.

Apparently the Bordeaux judiciary has anticipated these delays and is taking the suspensions with a certain calm.

There are 18 jurors in all; nine in the first line and nine substitutes. While court is in session they are compensated at 324 francs a day, but they receive nothing while the court is in suspension, nor do they receive their normal salaries. The judicial system is trying to solve this problem at the moment.

Web sites devoted to the History and Trial of Maurice Papon

The Matisson family were the first to launch a civil case against Maurice Papon, in 1981. Jean-Marie Matisson runs the website, and reports from the courtroom. At the website, click on 'Affaire Papon.'

Another website of interest contains daily coverage of the trial by the Bordeaux paper, the Sud Ouest.

Sports News: World Cup Accommodations

You may not be thinking about it yet, but the Brazilians have already decided to lodge their team at the Château de la Grand Romaine, at Lésigny, out to the east on Paris, in Seine-et-Marne. This is without waiting for the 4. December draw, to be held in Marseille, which will decide which teams play where.

Once Brazilian officials decided they are going to stay in Lésigny, everybody in South America wants to stay there too - and Mondiresa has booked 35,000 overnights in the region. Around Lésigny, hotels have simply bar Palace des 2 Moulins doubled their prices. I don't believe this, but another hotel manager in the same area said he wasn't changing his prices and rooms are still 155 francs a night.

Closer to where I live, and close to the PSG training centre at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the manager of the Hôtel de la Forêt said his room rates would stay at their normal 160 francs a night, and he would be charging extra for 'other services.'

THe photo of this bar in the rue Lepic has nothing to do with 'Sports News.'

Saint-Germain-en-Laye is not known - by me - to be some sort of pauper's paradise and I find it hard to believe there is a hotel there which charges 160 francs a night for a room at any time. For a place to throw a sleeping bag in the parking lot maybe, but not for a room.

Le Parisien's comment is that rate rises of double to triple have been normal in the past for big sporting events - and this seems somewhat realistic.

Altogether, Mondiresa has taken bookings for 200,000 overnights around Paris. A third of all match tickets have been sold to foreign sportsfans, and if each of them intends to see three games - the average - then the organizers expect 3-400,000 visitors.

I am multiplying that by the estimated number of overnights and I think I will go down to my spare place in the garage and calculate how many people can sleep on the concrete floor there.

Le Parisien also says a French Hotel Association survey of 650 hotels in the Ile-de-France has shown price increases for next summer's World Cup period, averaging 15 percent.

An outfit called 'Mondiresa' is supposed to be the official reservation centre for accommodations for the period of the World Cup next summer. Hotels attached to this reservation service are not supposed to charge more than 25 percent more than their normal rates.

Mondiresa is supposed to have deals with 750 hotels, so if you are thinking of being in Paris during the World Cup, sending them a fax enquiry might be worthwhile.

Mondiresa - Mme Simone le Dren
Tel.: 01 60 91 01 01.
Tel.: 33-1 60 91 01 01.
Fax.: 33-1 44 25 23 91.

The FIFA has a web site for keeping track of the official word on what is going on with everything that concerns the World Cup '98 - which includes less than you want to know about what happens before it.

For more than you want to know, keep your radio dialed to this frequency.

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