The World Cup Grill and Lounge

photo: champs elysees cafe
Although there are a lot more terraces now,
there are a lot more people too.

On the Champs-Elysées: Got Any
Tickets To Sell? Buy a Watch?

Paris:- Friday, 19. June 1998:- The grand avenue of the Champs-Elysées is very full today. Vivid but slightly heavy sunlight shimmers on the metal of car roofs, but the trees absorb some and a couple of hundred thousand people absorb the rest.

It looks like there is a convention of people on holiday in town, all on this street. Hardly anybody is dressed for work and I am very interested in how people are dressed even if they are not wearing much.

The flags add gay color, though they don't show well in the photos. They make it seem as if there are 32-odd countries making state visits and the colors keep the green of the tress from being oppressive. The trees, I hope, filter out some of the gasses from the traffic, which is edge-to-edge in the street; a nearly non-stop flow of metal and plastic.

Drivers are nervous and they are using their horns a lot. Pedestrians are not paying much attention to the 'green man' on the 'Don't Walk' signs, so it is hard for drivers to get on or off the Champs without nosing through the throngs.

One odd thing is, if you stand in the middle of a sidewalk, you can see individual people and they don't look like too many. But if you stand near a building wall and kind of look diagonally across the sidewalk, people look shoulder-to-shoulder.

If you look up or down a bit, then you realize you can see hundreds of thousands all at once. To photographphoto: tunisia bus this, you need a really good tripod and a really long tele-lens and even then I don't think the resolution would be equal to what eyes can see.

The 'good-humor' Tunisian bus.

On the Champs-Elysées, I always wonder where so many people are going but today many of them look more like they are camped here and waiting for something.

Could it be that hundreds of thousands of football fans have come to Paris and France, with nothing but football on their minds - and are using the Champs-Elysées as a 'waiting-room?'

A certain number of them are looking for tickets to World Cup games. One cardboard sign says, 'Japon-Croatia' and the holders, leaning against a light pole, do not look like Croatians.

I am surprised that fnac's one-hour photo service agrees to do my film before three. This means I should be able to find lunch and the map place and all of this week's posters plus a café or bistro or two, within an hour.

Every year about this time the usual interesting posters give way to ones advertising perfumes or toothpaste. For some reason, the newspaper kiosks have no arresting magazine covers plastered on their sides - but it takes me from one end of the avenue to the other to find this out.

The actual bars, cafés and restaurants have all been photographed before, so it is only their terraces placed on the sidewalksphoto: scooter girls that are worth looking at. Then it is to see if there are free chairs, but they are all nearly full. I shoot a couple of these to fob off as either cafés or bistros for this issue.

Two zippy young ladies use part of the sidewalk for a scooter shortcut without causing too much fuss.

What there is also, is a lot of people sitting down wherever they can. Leftovers, are leaning against the surrounds of the parking entrances and the métro exits. I suppose it is more amusing to wait around here than at the Parc des Princes, although there are good and big cafés at the Porte de Saint-Cloud near the stadium.

Some of these detach themselves to hold up cardboard signs offering to buy or sell football tickets. Strangers whisper in ears, "Tickets for sale?"

One tells me he is buying or selling, for any match. He seems to have competition, or is part of a crew. He says the police were on the avenue yesterday, but there are not many uniforms today. The police who are not in uniform are impossible to count.

He has to be caught with tickets on him, so he has none. Before I can find out where they might be he has two potential customers.

With the 'phantom' tickets, the black market tickets, and various other free-market ticket scams, reports have me believing there are three times as many people trying to get tickets as there are seats in the stadiums. Apparently six times as many Japanese have arrived as there are tickets.

One of the RATP open rear-deck buses has 'Tunisia' painted on the side, over top of World War Two German camouflage color paint job. The color is of ashes. It looks like an untidy slum of a bus and the shade from the leaves make it look even more camouflaged.

If there wasn't a bit of wind, it would be solid heat. I whirl around at my usual speed; but the hunt for posters has only left me the barest time to find the IGN map shop in the rue la Boétie. It hasn't got photo: club 79 champs elysees what I want and doesn't know where I can get it. They do have I a lot of geographic stuff it would be good to have; but not today.

Back at fnac just before three; the prints are nearly ready - close enough to be at the promised time. But after I ride out to La Défense to change to the train I'll have to wait a good 20 minutes there.

What a fancy doorway to something I've never heard of!

At métro George V, there are a bunch of big guys in green and white from Nigeria. On the platform one of them asks if it is the right direction to the Parc des Princes. It is; but they need to change at Etoile. There is no time to say they'll need to change again at Trocadéro - or really, they should go the other way.

It is too hot, it is too complicated; they are good humored and other people will tell them how to get to the stadium. There, they will play their trumpet and drums and rock and roll the stands with 40,000 other spectators, and see their team beat Bulgaria one to zero, on a goal fired in by Victor Ikpeka.

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