Paper of '68, Born in '73, Hits 25

cafe-resto gaudeamus
You'll find this bistro that looks like bistro,
in the 5th, near the Panthéon.

Happy Birthday Libération

Paris:- Saturday, 23. May 1998:- Today's date marks the first issue of Libération's 26th year of publication. As Serge July put it in a comment in the paper yesterday, 'In this strange country where the past never stops being religiously celebrated.'

Twenty-five years ago yesterday, an eight-page Libération hit the streets of Paris and cost its readers 80 centimes. Today, a 44-page copy cost me seven francs, and contains only two pages about May '68. Five pages are devoted to coverage of the current Cannes film festival.

Libération was born in May 1968 and its father was Jean-Paul Sartre; surrounded by intellectuals, leftists and other agents for change in French society. The name 'Libération' was inherited from a post-war paper that had ceased publication in the early '60's. 'One of the most beautiful words in the French language, ' according to Mr. July.

It is the only Paris daily started in the last 50 years to have survived; with 170,700 copies sold daily in 1997. This success is likely to continue, because the paper treats innovation - in democracy, economics, andfront page liberation culture; in all spheres - as news. With this outlook, essentially towards the future, Libération is beyond the public's general disaffection with the press.

Today's Libération: number one, anno 26.

Culture, and what is behind it, is a major theme and half of each day's issue is about it. The hundred best recordings from the last 25 years are worth a special supplement, as are a 25-year selection of Libération's authors - assembled in a supplement at the time of the Salon du Livre this year. These joined a book featuring the best 250 front pages - out of 7500 - and there was another supplement for the past quarter century's best 25 films.

No start date is given, but Libération also publishes a weekly special section called, 'Multimedia,' and has its own Web site, where it puts words into practice and practice into cyberspace. Planetary newspaper.

This may seem like too much culture - and today's front page has a photo of Yannick Noah, of tennis fame - as a preview for the start on Monday of this year's tournament at Roland Garros. Sport is culture too.

But if you look closely, the photo at top left is of Gerry Adams, with a thumbs-up for yesterday's overwhelming double 'yes' vote in Ireland. Inside, this makes only page eight, but the story takes up four of the five columns.

It is possibly not 'all the news that's fit to print' but for our times, for where we are in this late twentieth century universe, it is more than enough.

At the end of Mr. July's Friday 'lettre' to readers, he attributes the paper's success to them. He is too modest. Without its content, Libération would have no readers. Thank you, Serge July.

Trouble in Dreamville

Friday's edition of The Tocqueville Connection contains a report about current corruption investigations at Paris' Hôtel de Ville.

From following the recent trial of Maurice Papon, I learned that almost anybody is allowed to say almost anything, and this goes for investigations as well. This sort of story sells a lot of newspapers and can be interesting to follow - if you like what amounts to gossip, more than facts.

An investigation can produce dramatic events - lots of smoke - but can result in zero prosecutions - no fire. In other countries with other judicial systems, the details of investigations are not necessarily public, because of the possible harm to the innocent - and because possible evidence may be compromised.

These are the reasons that I do not feel like running an ongoing account of the current investigation. For readers who are sufficiently interested, The Toqueville Connection is watching the situation.

In their Friday edition, also read about "Ceux Qui M'Aiment Prendront le Train," a French film in competition at Cannes, directed by Patrice Chéreau. There is also a report on how 'May '68' is being remembered. And as frosting - or is it a roasting? - there is a report on how much the European Commission has decided to let the French government - and French taxpayers - spend on Crédit Lyonnais' third and final bailout.

Getting Shopped by Rental Cars

Le Parisien calls this 'Rent Better For Less' but it should be: if you want a little car like a Twingo, Corsa, 106 or Punto - which are Renault, Opel, Peugeot and Fiat - you can pay more for it, but why bother?

Hertz charges most at 775 francs for a weekend, with 500 kms included; and relative newcomer to France, Sixt-Eurorent, charges least, at 499 francs with 600 kms included. In between aref2-tv, gp monaco Ada with 800 kms included, Budget with only 300 kms, Europcar with 500 kms, and Avis is up near the Hertz level.

The start of Sunday's GP of Monaco, with Mika Hakkinen in front. Photo: F2-TV.

If you are really strapped for wheels; Sixt-Eurorent also has a special daily deal on Ford Ka's for 199 francs with 200 kms, or 366 francs for a weekend with 600 kms free. Sixt is famous in Germany for renting hot iron like Porsche Carreras, and little Mercedes' at dumping prices. Their ads are so aggressive you feel like you're slumming to drive your own car.

Demo Weekend Days Turn Typical

Last Saturday, I thought the list of weekend demos in Paris was atypically long. Fooled me! Today's list is just as long.

The list of these demos is not a warning. Anybody can participate in a Paris street demo and doing so may be the high point of your visit. Also I think it's good to let you know some Parisians are not total 'couch potatoes.' Some of them are 'street potatoes.'

For those of you who may have missed last week's list, a short explanation: Le Parisien runs a daily 'traffic' page, and this is usually on the last page. If the paper has a full-page ad on the back page, then you have to look for the 'traffic' page - sometimes while stuck in a traffic jam. Since demonstrations can hinder circulation, these are all marked, somewhat haphazardly, on the 'traffic' map.

Last night; 21:00:- from Bastille to the esplanade at Vincennes, the regular Friday night trek of the 'motards.' This is the one not appreciated by residents around the esplanade.

Today:- 13:00:- from République to Nation, silent march in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by France in its colonies.

Sunday:- 9:00:- Right bank, from the Tuileries to the tunnel on the qui Henri IV and on the left bank from the quai Anatole-France to the quai Branly, 'Operation Vélos-Pedestrians.' - 10:00:- starting in the streets around the rue Mouffetard, to the streets Charles-Divry, Durouchoux, Saillard, Sivel, Mouton-Duvernet and Brézin, 'Operation Strolling and Relaxation.' - 12:00:- from the avenue Foch to the racetrack at Longchamp in the Bois de Boulogne, parade of carriages drawn by horses. - 14:00:- on the quais of Valmy and Jemmapes, and the quais of the Loire and the Marne, 'Operation Strolling and Relaxation' part two. - 14:00:- from place de la Bastille, roller fans and 'sea-shells' will be going for a ramble: Destination unknown.

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