...Continued from page 1

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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