France Has a Big Party

photo: brasserie royal opera
This version of the 'Royal Opéra' is overlooked by the viaduct along the avenue Daumesnil.

Then Shuts Down and Takes Off

Paris:- Saturday, 18. July 1998:- France is the only country in the world that could follow a World Cup Championship victory celebration on the Champs-Elysées on a Monday with a Bastille Day parade on Tuesday.

Some of the hard-core party people who didn't bother to leave the Champs-Elysées between the victory party early Monday morning and the bonus victory party - featuring the players - on Monday afternoon, joined the extra-huge crowds that turned out for the Bastille Day parade fairly early Tuesday morning.

This was a strange beginning to the week of news in Paris. The way papers are made, Sunday's World Cup win barely made them, and I'mphoto: viaduct des arts guessing here, because I didn't make it to the news shop before it closed at noon - so I had no Monday papers.

The arches under the disused elevated railway viaduct, have been turned into shops for artisans.

There were no papers on Tuesday because Bastille Day is a national holiday, and all citizens go to the firemen's balls on the evening of the 13th.

It turns out then, with Wednesday's papers, that the national holiday's big event was not the larger than usual crowds being much more enthusiastic than usual for the big parade, but the President's garden party at the Elysée Palace.

The French team were there and everybody went gaga. This was shown on TV-news of course. Le Parisien led with the Elysée party, followed by the parade report. Libération did the same, plus dreamed up a funny headline: "Chirac Champion du monde de la droite."

On this occasion, the President traditionally makes a sort of statement. This he did, sitting at a table in his garden, covered by TF1 and France 2 TV, while 6000 guests waited patiently for the party to begin.

President Chirac has never been as high in the popularity ratings, so instead of aiming his critical commentsphoto: bistro under viaduct at political opponents, they were directed at his own party, the RPR, which is in considerable disarray.

The 'hole-in-the-wall' bistro has a terrace on the avenue Daumesnil, at right.

If there is a reason for the current high popularity of both Jacques Chirac and Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, my guess it is partly because the economy seems to be gong a bit better, and the right wing is so divided that it has little spare energy to spend on concentrated political attacks on the ruling leftist majority. Lack of serious political conflict is the result; and the apparent harmony is being rewarded with high poll scores.

But the President's Bastille Day discourse is often a sort of 'state-of-the-nation' exercise, so many other current subjects were addressed. When this was finished, everybody went bonkers, singing, "We Are the Champions!"

The Champ de Mars In Orbit

What three big tenors were unable to do a week ago Thursday was pulled off by gigantic-spectacular-musical-techno artist Jean-Michel Jarre on Tuesday night, 14. July, at the Champ de Mars.

For a show which did not get underway until nearly 22:30, tens of thousands showed up in the early afternoon. Others, who only heard about it in the afternoon, rushed to the site, jamming it to the rafters; making it an absolute crush.

Emergency services were called 200 times, but apparently nobody was hurt badly.

With all the non-stop victory celebrations running into the traditional Bastille Day festivities, there were quite a small number of casualties; especially considering the numbers of people involved throughout the country.

And Finally, the Weather News

This achieved prominence on Friday in Le Parisien, mainly because the country closed for holidays on Tuesday evening. I've commented on this in the Café column, because the forecast used last week for this coming week, is now out of date. Try to be cool if it gets too hot where you are.

Dope and the Tour de France

As you might well imagine, after an ultra-clean World Cup Championship, involving ultra-amounts of different actors,photo: shop in viaduct institutions, sponsors and spectators, the dope scandal that hit the Tour de France last week fell like an extremely unlucky blow.

One of the shops under the viaduct.

This is France's real number one sports event of the year and this particular year is the 85th version of it. Not being a SportsFan, I am unaware of the Tour's history and do not know if it is a common occurrence.

What I also do not know is why some sports people seem to think that a practice that is forbidden in horse racing, is acceptable to inflict on human competitors.

Doping horses is forbidden, because it twists the betting odds in an unacceptable manner. If you look at any sport where betting is concerned, legal or illegal, dope is unacceptable to the punters.

It is hard enough to pick winners to bet on. When dope enters the equation, all bets are off.

An Online Sports Event

The Tour de France is the world's number one bike race by virtue of being the longest and hardest. This year's edition is the 85th and, aside from some minor stumbles, it is as exciting as ever.

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

By a process of clever deduction, I learned that new reader Ed Grant may possibly be a bike nut, so I asked him if he had any favorite Tour de France Web sites. He offered the following: Bicycling magazine and the comprehensive site of bike fan, 'kjtar.' This guy has everything except his own name here, and he even has t-shirts for sale and maybe a low-milage - never raced, never rallied! - BMW 2002 tti as well.

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 On

Goodbye SportsBar.

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