Big Dump At Culture Box-Office

resto les mauvais garcons
Why a respectable-looking restaurant should have a name like this is probably historical.

Low-Ball Attractions Take Up Slack

Paris:- Saturday, 9. May 1998:- The largely state-run public-attraction business in France thinks it is in trouble. In a five year study, a government unit that tracks the site-visitor numbers, has reported that culture is bombing at the ticket window while amusement parks are pulling healthy plus numbers year after year.

This has been hinted at for some time by this unit's annual figures, so it is not a great surprise. With over 60 million visitors a year, France is one of the world's top destinations - and many of France's own 60 million-plus residents are potential clients at all the same attractions.

This could come down to the argument that private attraction companies are more nimble in giving the customers what they want; or they provide more service, or stay open longer.

But the decline in visits to the Louvre or Versailles probably has other causes. Residents live here and have already seen these places often - because doing so used to be 'culture' and that in itself was perceived as value.

But lots of people have kids, and keeping their behavior on the straight and narrow in some cultural shrines is a parent's nightmare. If the parents have already seen the Musée d'Orsay five times already, why drag the kids to it?

Private operators are not blind, deaf and dumb - and unlike state enterprises they do not run on subsidies. They do not have vast bureaucracies hanging over them nor dozens of committees. IfA2-TV 8 may chirac Disney's European clients want beer and wine, they get beer and wine. Disney lost a lot of money while it dithered over this. They noticed this - fairly - quickly.

President Chirac, at VE-Day ceremonies on Friday. F2 Photo

Le Parisien takes a detailed potshot at the Musée de l'Armée as an example of how a place loaded with treasures nobody can find, shouldn't be run. It is subsidized with about 25 million francs a year, and spends maybe 30,000 francs on promotion - about the monthly salary of a manager.

Personally, the thing I like least are crowds. If a museum falls out of favor, I will probably go to it. Early on a wet November Sunday in 1978, I was in a room alone with the Mona Lisa and its security system. I have heard it has gotten even more popular, so that is the last time I was in the Louvre. But I am sure there will be other cold and rainy Sundays some coming November.

First-time visitors want to see the big sites. Unfortunately many are booked into a few short weeks of the year - but many of these weeks are when residents are on holidays, so maybe it evens out.

Maybe the fall-off is mainly due to local residents. Judging also from Le Parisien's pages, the attractions around Paris, both big and small, both cultural and otherwise, are enormous in number - and the paper relentlessly promotes them.

So there is the problem. Le Parisien, and I suppose Le Figaro too, not to mention all the other Paris dailies, are sending their readers to too many places. Chantilly's numbers are up nicely, thank you.

Meanwhile, out of town visitors should take advantage of Parisians' relative lack of interest and plan a visit to - Versailles - or the air museum out at Le Bourget. There's fantastic stuff out there.

Very Used, Very Big Bank, For Sale

I don't think I've mentioned the problems of the Crédit Lyonnais often, or possibly not at all. The huge state-owned bank got its nose in about the same wringer as a lot of other banks at the end of the '80's.

It was trying to make easy money in the real estate game and it got burned. But it got into the game late, so it had really lousy deals, and it got burned almost out of existence. If it had been a normal bank, the name Crédit Lyonnais would probably be a dim memory by now.

But Crédit Lyonnais is not normal. Themagazine telerama 68 Republic of France owns it. If it was still the old days, the government would simply take some loot out of petty cash and pay off the bank's rotten paper. But these are new days, and Brussels says doing that would be, in effect, unfair competition for other banks who have to shoulder their loads without being bailed out with money collected from taxpayers.

'May '68' sells a lot of special-edition magazines.

I think the Crédit Lyonnais has been bailed out three times already, in about the last five years. Each time is the 'last' time and after each time it comes back for another 'last' time.

The way the things stand in Europe now, the government really has to ask nicely if it can bail out Crédit Lyonnais again. Brussels has said, one last time - and there are 'conditions.'

'Condition Number One' says that France has to unload Crédit Lyonnais. I mean, hey! Counting this coming fourth bailout, French taxpayers have put about five or ten billion francs down that black hole. To sell a bank, though, it has to be solvent.

One way to do this is to close 1860 branches. This is like the old Vietnam story of destroying the village in order to save it from the red hordes.

Recently, TV showed us a new stink of the week. This is a TV commercial which shows about three couples dining in a bistro, and discussing what a rotten scandal Crédit Lyonnais is for costing us so much money. It's really terrible. Scandal! At the end of the meal, one of the diners hauls out a Crédit Lyonnais cheque-book to pay the tab.

The other diners are horrified. How could you?!? The guy says he's had an account with them 15 years and they've treated him square. Mr. Jacques Cool.

Apparently Crédit Lyonnais had this TV commercial sitting in a drawer 'in case of' and that case arrived quite recently, when depositors pulled a billion francs out of their checking and savings accounts within a few days.

In case you are in the market for a bank, I have to tell you the Crédit Lyonnais may actually have some assets somewhere, but it can't shoot straight.

SportsNews - The Boot

I'm am really glad I don't follow football. Here am I am, trying to get the score for tonight's game to decide the winner of the Coupe de France. I thought it was between PSG and Lens, but that was last time. This week it is between Lens and I don't know who. Lens wins - where is it? - by a score of - apparently one to one.

This means the other team loses, and since I always think there is gloom in Mudville, I guess it is PSG. But no! I think I hear the TV-news say that if Metz wins next week... - but now I look atart market today's Le Parisien, I see it was Lens - where is it? - against Metz tonight. So Metz lost and is the new Mudville.

Out at Bastille, at the Art Market - a seller and possibly, a buyer.

But hold on a minute; maybe I'm only half-wrong. The 'scenario' says if Lens beats Auxerre it will be champion. But Lens gets an even score and Metz fails to beat Lyon by seven goals - unlikely! - then... then what?

To be champion Metz has to beat Lyon and Lens has to lose. Or if Metz beats Lyon by more than seven goals and Lens gets an even score off Auxerre, then Metz is champion.

Since I caught the name 'Metz' at the end of the nonsense of the TV-news, I suspect that neither Lens nor Metz got their dream scenarios tonight; and they are going to have a catfight next week.

The game tonight was followed by a very large party in Lens, which is where? - well, wherever it is, it has lasted until long after today was over.

This French championship playoff has a lot of SportsFans in France really ticked off. Here's little Metz - 200,000 souls - scrapping away with Lens - where is it? - with only 350,000 citizens, while all the big towns like Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux - Paris! - all their SportsFans, are sitting around twiddling their... I don't know what they're twiddling.

France has lots of Mudvilles tonight. Anybody with a gram of sense, would sit this one out at the SportsBar.

SportsBar Is Quiet On Thursdays

While real SportsFans lead otherwise normal lives on Thursdays, those at the SportsBar, known as the Football Café play chess while awaiting the approaching World Cup championship matches. Their wives were not amused, but cannot figure out how to dislodge the true SportsFans from their 'Football Caf&eacute.' in which they are twirling away their thoughts, while spouting their chess-philosophy and drinking hot World Cup SportsCafé. Three cheers and a pizza-pizza! for the Football Café and for the determination of the SportsFans!'

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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