Political Turmoil Continues

Le Gourmet Latin
It was a bit chilly for terrace dining, but the
customers didn't seem to notice.

And Life Goes On As Usual

Paris:- Saturday, 29. March 1998:- The shambles experienced by France last week after the elections continued during the week, and if anything, intensified.

When the dust and smoke settled, it appeared that five regional Council Presidents had been elected with aid from the ultra-right Front National Party - and all five of these elected were of the UDF party.

There is much hand-wringing about this state of affairs. One UDF leader was trying to start a new party, with three new initials. By week's end, demonstrators were in the streets, and today saw marches in large numbers in many cities throughout France.

For the departmental ballot, the SocialistsA2TV demo Paris picked up 12 new ones, bringing their total to 32, against the right's 60 or 61. The communists gained another department head, bringing their total to three.

Tonight's France 2 TV-news shows demonstrations against the FN throughout France.

Quote from this column last week: "As recently as September 1996, Alain Juppé, RPR, characterized the Front National as a group, 'almost viscerally racist, anti-semitic and xenophobe.'" Last Monday evening, President Chirac appeared on TV, to say almost exactly the same thing.

Papon Trial Suspended

Last Wednesday, during the wind-up defense plea by Maître Varaut, Maurice Papon's wife died, and all parties agreed to suspend the proceedings until Monday.

All involved with the trial want it to come to an end, as it is about three months behind its timetable. Baring any further incidents, the defense attorney will finish early in the week and a judgement is expected next Wednesday or early Thursday.

Web Sites With Contents About the Papon Trial:

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.

Paris Adds Capacity to Roissy

Without warning, Paris airport Charles-de-Gaulle has just added another terminal, called 'F' I believe. This new building is so big that TV-news was unable to show it in its entirely, so I have no idea what it looks like. The interior photo of it reminds me of the Chicago stockyards.

For years there has been an on and off battle about laying more concrete for landing strips at Roissy, but I heard nothing about a new terminal. This new one, is a sort of extension - the fifth - to the newer 'Aérogare' Two, which just keeps growing. The furthest end of it may be in Aachen someday.

But one thing the architects did do - despite its size - built to handleA2TV demo Sat1 six million passengers a year - they made the front door no more than 150 metres from the furthest loading gate.

Demonstrators numbered in the tens of thousands.

This one terminal will add a third to Roissy's total capacity. Only the first 'peninsula' of it is now open; the second opens in April 1999 and it will be designed to handle the coming super jumbos. It is also designed with the telescope tubes for access to aircraft and no more than 20 percent of passengers will have to find some other way of getting on or off the planes.

Paris' two airports, Orly and Roissy, handled 60 million passengers last year; which amounted to a rise of 2.6 percent.

Amusement Parks

France is not only amusing, it has official parks set aside especially for the purpose of paying to be amused. Near Paris - a big amusement park itself - there are four others.

Disneyland Paris, as it is now called, attracted 12.6 million to its amusements last year. Disney's big advantage for Parisians is that they can get to it without changing trains, if they live near the RER line 'A.' The disadvantage of this park, is that it costs more to be amused in it - an estimated 1540 francs a day for a family of four. This includes the entry, parking, a bit to eat while sitting down and incidentals.

Parc Asterix pulled in 1.9 million and a lot of families on a budget like it because its daily cost is only abut 1145 francs a day. Its drawback is, like the other parks below, having to take a bus after the ride on the RER. By road, it is about the same distance from Paris as Disneyland.

France Miniature costs the least at 740 francs for the family for the day, but I've heard its attractions are not quite so elaborate - although it does contain a miniature France. To this one you take a suburban SNCF train and then a bus.

The Mer-de-Sable park is not one I know much about, except that it has been in operation for 35 years. Its big attraction is a lake of sand. For a family of four: 820 francs a day, plus a bus from a RER station.

Further away, Futuropolis, near Poitiers, is popular and it was the second bigger puller with 2.6 million visitors last year. Like Disneyland it is open all year - while the others take a winter break. Disney also has the advantage of having its own TGV station, so it can pull in visitors from much further away.

Of course there are many other attractions competing for the family gold: wild-life parks, a sheep park, a bird park, aquariums, la Ferme de Paris at Vincennes, and I shouldn't forget the dog cemetery at Asnières - at métro Gabriel-Péri.

The French Are Not Talking to Each Other

This was the discovery of a recent poll by the statistics people. The Insee says since 1983, kids talk seven percent less with their parents. With adults, 17 percent talk less with friends, 12 percent less with fellow workers and a whopping 26 percent less with merchants.

This is face-to-face that is on the skids. In contrast, not face-to-face, with the telephone, is another story. Even before theA2TV demo Sat2 boom of the portis, 50 million phone calls were made on Sundays when one could expect most calls would be private. A good weekday, with all types of calls, would only reach 80 million conversations.

The demonstrators carried messages, addressed to the French.

The concierges are feeling the pinch too. 'Bonjour, bonsoir, maybe a little smile, rarely more.' New tenants don't introduce themselves and the concierge has to put up a poster to find out who the mail belongs to.

The butcher says people are morose, and he tries to engage customers in conversation. The older ones have their 'petites histoires,' and that is what it is about. We are supposed to be exchanging our 'petites histoires' in order to enrich our lives, or at least feel as if we are in fact alive, and not just doing time.

Metropole's Porn

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a racy poster, advertising the play, 'Le Cid.' I thought it was a bit over the top but it's been kind of quiet around here lately and I was sort of hoping for some reaction.

One reader wrote, 'Oh-la-la' and that was it. She might be the only reader who looked at the poster. Anyhow, I was had! The whole idea was the director's - Thomas Le Douarec - who wanted to pep up Paris métro tunnels a bit.

In the play, the actress - Vanessa Gregory - plays the same scene, quite naturally, with a lot of clothes on. Okay, not a lot; but a long white dress, with half-sleeves.

By the way, this is a 'flamenco' version of El Cid, being played in the very staid Thêatre de la Madeleine. The production is getting mixed reviews for uneven acting and the unconventional 'flamenco' part has purists in doubt.

In contrast, the Hans-Peter Cloos production of Frank Wedekind's 'Lulu' at the Thêatre de Chaillot is not some watered-down cinema or bombastic opera version, but the hard-core 'monster tragedy' Wedekind intended it to be. Romane Bohringer is supposed to be splendid in it - but it is not for kids.

Non-Sports World Cup News

The British government intends to spend ten million francs to tell its hooligans that they won't get anywhere in FranceLa Friterie without having valid tickets for the World Cup.

Tickets sold in Britain apparently have the purchaser's name on them, and they are only good in combination with an official identity paper, such as a passport. This must be a blow to residents of France who were hoping to clean up selling black market tickets.

In Paris, frites but no fish for the Brits.

The Brits are really serious about their hooligans. They've gone to the trouble of making TV spots showing actors getting turned away from Marseille's Stade-Vélodrome, for not having valid tickets.

The Home Minister was reported to have said, "If you are called Joe Bloggs and the name on the ticket is Josephine Jospin, you won't get in."

Whistle-Blowers In Training

The 34 referees and their 33 assistants have been in training since last Monday at Vincennes; sprucing up their old muscles in time for the World Cup. The photo in Le Parisien shows them kind of running counter-clockwise. One of them looks like a left-over robot from a defunct TV-series; and not one of them seems to have a whistle.

The World Cup SportsBar Now Open Forever

Seven evenings a week real SportsFans gather at the SportsBar, known as the Football Café to discuss the any points of the game of balls and feet, without getting too 'psychoBrazil' about it. If the game is cancelled on account of rain, SportsFans go into terminal Beer City, for which there are no maps.

Less uplifting are the 'official' Web sites: represented by the FIFA - which stands for Federation International - and the French Organizing Committee, known to all far and wide as the CFO. I don't what the initials stand for, just like RATP does not sound like métro to me.

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