All the News I can Remember

photo: bistro chez nous st denis
A typical 'at-home' neighborhood café in Saint-Denis.

Is Enough For This Week

Paris:- Saturday, 4. July 1998:- I have shot myself in the foot with the 'pétanque rules.' This column is not 'up-to-date' and it is late and I'm not up to it. The next pétanque game I see, I'm going to boycott it.

Yeah, yeah; 'no excuses' in the 'news game.' On top of it I want to build this column up, and it keeps getting the short straw.

The government is busy in France. It is pre-announcing all sorts of overdue measures, such as its willingness to put some thought into how to fix up conditions in somephoto: decathlon sign of France's suburban concentrations. There seem to be a lot of good ideas being floated, but everybody wants to know where the money will come from.

For serious 'sports reporting' I head for a sporting goods outlet.

It will come from where all money comes from: the government has a very rich fairy godmother known as the taxpayer. Still, ideas like fixing up the country's infrastructure are more appealing than the big hoot the week before last, about the new atomic aircraft carrier.

Both President Jacques Chirac and the Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, have huge popularity ratings - with both of them hovering around 60 percent. This kind of number is almost unheard-of in France.

There is a lot of rumble about people getting jobs after many many years of moaning about people not getting jobs. However, the jobless rate is so high that taking a couple of tens of thousands off the unemployment roles each month doesn't make much of a dent in the overall number.

Employers are said to be more confident for the first time in a long while and this attitude may be positive. Between the lines one reads that many new jobs are on fixed-duration contracts, usuallyposter: welcome world to st denis for six months. Those that have these jobs are kept in a continual state of unease, because they can't plan any further ahead than that - and this must slow up the economy somewhat.

Housing prices are supposed to be rising, which is an indication that the numbers of buyers are increasing - and those with half a chance want to buy soon before prices jump.

Saint-Denis says, 'Welcome World!'

Wages, well wages are - happy! because the minimum wage was raised by about 50 francs. It hardly matters what the 'minimum' wage is if the only jobs available for this wage are part-time, so the 'rise' news did not rate a lot of headlines.

Wednesday's Le Parisien had a front-page photo of Gérard Depardieu back on the job in his Obélix costume after his motorcycle accident. He does look like Obélix.

This news was marred by radio France-Info's Thursday report that the actor is likely to be charged for having a motorcycle accident while under the influence of a very large amount of alcohol. For various good reasons, I not sure I believe the numbers that were given.

France's alert customs agents seized their first haul of the new drug, much awaited by many Frenchmen, Viagra. This news received about the same treatment as the capture of twenty kilos of coke - and the other current 'devil' was brought into the story - unscrupulous dealers are peddling it by way of the Internet.

Newspaper thrive on 'loser' stories so there is no resistance to the tales of the riches not being made off the back of the World Cup in France. Home-delivery pizza dealers are doing well even though they do not blanket the landscape.

The losers apparently are traditional restaurants - those pizza guys! - the big department stores and hotels. Surprise! the hotels are not full to the bursting point. Many have fewer units rented than normal and the thinking has it that many traditional visitors have given Paris a pass while the football festivities are in full swing.

While France was getting ready to lose good-naturedly tophoto: le parisien 5 july the Italians on Friday, the French team's star player Zinedine Zidane was saying the French team had no need for modesty.

Le Parisien says, 'Keep On Dreaming!

This player, sidelined for two games on a red penalty card, walked out of the Stade de France on Friday afternoon at the head of a team that had just sent the Italians home. It was close; up against the wire, the Italians blew it.

That was a heck of a way to start the first weekend of France's summer vacation - to start it feeling good - and now this is where we are: one-third 'on vacation.'

All the country needs now to put it in fine form, is to scoop up the winner's place in the World Cup - so it can have the confidence to give people full-time jobs.

An Upcoming Sports Event

The Tour de France, which is mentioned elsewhere in this issue, is the world's number one bike race by virtue of being the longest and hardest. This year's edition is the 85th and it starts next Saturday, just a bit before fans can recover from the World Cup.

To get a foretaste, it won't hurt to give VéloCity a spin, especially if you want to know about the races and the racers that will be competing in the 'Tour.'

Both VéloCity and the Tour de France's official Web site sell various bicycle-related goods online, and if you feel like getting into the swing of things by doing it in French, then give 'Le Tour' a shot.

The SportsBar Has Moved to the Fútbol Page for the duration, which ends next week. Bon chance!

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