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 specia-edition magazines.
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