Beware of Fake Taxis

bar: Au Perche Mignon
Slightly off the mainstream, this bar is
a block from rue de la Roquette.

And Beware of Good Money

Paris:- Saturday, 28. February 1998:- In principle, you can't do anything in France without an authorization of one sort or another. Germany is a bit the same; you can do anything that is not forbidden.

Suddenly, without warning, there are 'fake' taxis circulating in Paris. You come out of the Roissy terminal and your bags are heavy on the cart, a car slows, a window slides down and the driver says, "Taxi?"

You might not notice it has no taxi light on the roof, it has no identification plate on the right fender, it has no metre in the rear window and no taximetre inside. If you get in, then you can haggle over the price and whatever you agree on, you will think Paris is an expensive town.

You might even think a fare of 1000 francs is reasonable for the trip from the airport to the city's distant centre - but it is not. It's not a fair fare and the distance is not distant.

The real fare in a real taxi, one that is licensed and insured to carry passengers, is about 150 francs.

There are estimated to be about 200 fake taxis on the prowl; while there are 14,800 legal ones in operation in Paris and its area.

There are also 22 cops trying to catch the illegals, but they have to be 'caught in the act' of being paid, and some testimony from the pigeon is also required.

The illegals also know that the police do not work full shifts on weekends and that is a good time for picking up passengers at the airports. Within Paris, the illegals operate at the Gare de Lyon, the area of the Champs-Elysées and around Pigalle.

Oscar In French Is Spelled César

For its 23rd edition, the annual film awards ceremony was held tonight in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. I did not see this on pay-Canal+ which showed it 'in clear.' I don't even have this channel programmed, and I had other things to do.

However, while watching TV-news I did seerue de Lappe Michael Douglas get a prize from Président Jacques Chirac on Thursday, and Friday night's news showed Clint Eastwood getting one too. Later, in an interview, Mr. Eastwood admitted he was calmer than he used to be.

The rue de Lappe, quiet in daylight, jumping at night.

A small number of movies had a large number of nominations, with 'On Connaît la Chanson' having 12. If I heard correctly a while ago, it collected seven. This was a good score for 'auteur' film-maker Alain Resnais.

However, Luc Besson, who is supposed to represent 'commercial' film-making, was awarded the director's César for 'Le Cinquième Elément.' Later he more or less said he'd been waiting for the honor for 15 years, but he didn't look too unhappy about it.

Best actor turned out to be André Dussolier in 'On Connaît la Chanson' and the best actress César seemed to be a surprise to Ariane Ascaride for her role in 'Marius et Jeanette.'

As in all these affairs, there has to be the homages, and one of these went to Jean-Luc Godard for inventing the 'Nouvelle Vague' 40 years ago and never quite giving it up.

Also honored where Clint Eastwood, for his directing career; and Michael Douglas, for his acting career. If I remember correctly, his father has picked up at least a couple of prizes in France too.

It Ain't Funny, But It's Confusing

Although the Euro as cash money is not far off and there have been a lot of samples of it shown around in the last couple of years, the Banque de France has been putting out new money too.

The new 100 franc note, in circulation for just over a month, seems to resemble the slightly older new 200 franc noteClinique Rasoir a bit too much for some people. One is a centimetre shorter than the other, and one is generally orange-hued and the other red. Unless I had one of each in my hand right now, I couldn't tell you which is which.

Merchants who handle a lot of cash don't like the situation. A little bit of inattention; you say you paid with a 200 note and the merchant says it was 100. You can imagine how confidence starts to dwindle in situations like this.

A typical shop for the beardless in the rue de la Roquette.

Consumer's associations say that there haven't been many complaints after the first couple of weeks of use. But TV-news went through a whole list of past episodes of different values which were too similar physically, and it was not a few.

To finish off, a Banque de France spoksman, pointed out all the small details where the notes differed. One has Eiffel and the other has Cézanne, but I'll tell you both of them have beards. One note - the 100 - has Cézanne-like card players on it, but they are quite small.

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