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 quai 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.

Two of these 'demos' were permanent Sunday features last year and continued until the winter. Expect 'Operation Vélos-Pedestrians' and 'Operation Strolling and Relaxation' to continue this year.

In order to spare regular readers from possibly reading, and me from writing, about these regular demos I will simply predict that they will continue more or less on a weekly basis until Metropole's issue 3.42, which will be put online on Monday, 19. October 1998.

See the feature 'Véloville!' in this issue for more about bike and roller rentals in Paris.

Cheap Thrills

Le Parisien has finally gotten around to noticing that the café with the odd name of 'Ah! Ca Ira' at Bastille, featured as Metropole's opening 'Café' two weeks ago, has cheap café.

At five francs a hit for a thimble-full, thisopentour bus ratp is no doubt the place where Ms Thalman will pay off the 100 cafés she owes me, thus saving about a 100 francs on the lot.

The RATP's new 'OpenTour' bus passes through the Latin Quarter, regularly.

This café comes to Paris from a successful venture in Lille and has the motto 'Les Cafés Aux Prix Révolutionnaires,' which also explains the red, white and blue paint on the spartan decor. In this café, 'Ca ira' means if you want a café at a table, you get it from the bar yourself. Other café owners at Bastille are seeing mostly red.

Cannes 98 Winners

The jury selected 'L'Eternité et Un Jour,' directed by Theo Angelopoulos, to receive this year's Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Roberto Benigni, of 'Down By Law' fame, won a big runner-up prize, for his comedy 'La Vie Est Belle,' which is about Nazi death camps.

Benigni was in the middle of an imposing and impassioned speech to France-2 TV viewers in Italian, when the charming anchorlady suggested he switch to French. He did so, and it was equally imposing and impassioned and even partly in French, and I think he cribbed it from 'Duck Soup.' Either that, or he wrote 'Duck Soup' in the first place.

Depardieu Too Injured To Show at Cannes

Big Gérard's feelings aren't hurt, but he's probably a bit sore. Last Monday he dumped his motorcycle at Clairfountaine, near where Claude Zidi is shooting 'Asterix' with Depardieu playing the major-sized part of Obélix.

The producer of the film, Clause Berri, said Gérard would be back on the set soon. The 'Romans' and the 'Gaulois,' recruited from the local population, have to cool their heels until he turns up to take part in a major battle.

Another Birthday

Owners of Citroen 2Cvs gathered near Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines during the week, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their dream car. With VW's slinky belly-dancer-curved 'Beetle' out-selling its order books in the US, how long is it going to be before some clever auto manufacturer decides the world is not yet ready for the funeral of the 2CV?

World Cup Strike Threats

Threats of work stoppages are in the air and the purpose of them is to grab attention. Will Air France pilots and navigators, and the truckers succeed? Is anybody listening?

The truckers have had vocal support from the FO, but the union has been seeing some of its subsidiary groups depart recently - and with them, some of its own credibility.

SportsNews: SportsMania Season Opens

SportsWidows Unite!

Tomorrow it's the Grand Prix of Monaco. Monday tennis starts at Roland Garros. Sometime in the near future the football madness of the World Cup championship matches will take over the country. No sooner will that be finished than the Tour de France will wind its way across TV screens for three weeks, before the plug is pulled for August holidays.

Grand Prix Monte Carlo

Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren-Mercedes blew away the competition again on Sunday at the GP of Monaco. The cars are being called 'Silver Arrows.'

Grey Days At Roland Garros

One needn't seek the Japanese supercomputer capable of calculating seven-day advance Météo-France weather forecasts, as the culprit for the current chilly weather.

No. At this time of year, cool weather announces the Paris tennis extravaganza at Roland Garros. As soon as the little yellow balls start flying around the red-clay courts, out come the umbrellas.

The Brazilians Are Here!

Long awaited at the Château de la Grande-Romaine at Lésigny, the Brazilians arrived Friday to take up temporary residence. The place immediately went cuckoo. Hordes turned upf2-tv, roland garros from Paris seeking autographs. Local residents have been given special passes so they can get into and out of their village.

Lacking a Brazilian photo; here instead: a pre-Roland Garros shot. From F2-TV.

Some of the Brazilians are large and the management had to run out and buy 14 emergency jumbo beds. For the soccer stars' security, 12 parachutist-gendarmes have also been installed. A local student presented himself and within an hour had secured a job for the duration of the World Cup - to be the official 'no comment' spokesman for the team.

SportsBar Is Lively On Fridays

While real SportsFans begin hanging 22 on Fridays, those at the SportsBar, known as the Football Café play 21 while awaiting the approaching World Cup championship matches. Their girlfriends are 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 dealing their cards-philosophy and drinking boiling hot World Cup SportsCafé. Three cheers and a huge bolabola! for the Football Café and for the single-mindedness 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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