The Partial Strike That Was

photo: le petit marcel
For a quick café or a whole meal, near Beaubourg.

Back On the Rails Again

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 12. October 1998:- Little did I realize that the minor story in last week's 'Au Bistro' about a little train station stickup would escalate into a fairly serious transport strike in the Paris region by Wednesday.

The bottom line for Metropole is always the question of whether visitors can get from the airports at Roissy and Orly to the city centre and back again. Last week I depended mainly on radio reports as a basis for 'FlashNews' bulletins, which I put online from Wednesday to Saturday.

In the case of - unlikely I hope - a repeat of the early winter near-total strikes in 1995, there always seems to be at least one possible way to get to or from Paris.

The 'Eurostar' trains from London and Brussels immediately come to mind. These have their own crews I think, and so as long as they get switched correctly going into Gare du Nord, they operate during most local strikes.

In contrast to arriving in the centre of Paris, if you arrive at the airports, you are 'out in thephoto: fiat dream car country.' While substitute services may be available - buses, taxis - these will be fighting for road space with everything else that would normally be travelling by public transport.

The 'dream car,' seen last week on Fiat's stand at the Auto Salon.

More than once I've heard that the Ile-de-France's public transport system is a wonder; I believe it because I use it too. But the Ile-de-France, with Paris as its centre, is very large and its highway system is not overdeveloped - as everybody immediately notices as soon as the trains stop running.

Outside of Paris, when the trains all stop, we are stuck at home or in traffic jams. Inside of Paris, if all the métros and buses stop, we can walk, ride bikes or put on our rollers. Nobody has to stay home.

Today's Public Transport Situation:

For those who followed last week's 'FlashNews' in Metropole, there is none to report today. All the wheels are on the rails and all the wheels are rolling.

Metropole Paris' 'Scene' Page

This started up in last week's issue and some readers wrote to welcome the [kind of] new feature. Before last week, 'Events' and 'Coming Events' were tacked on to the 'Café' column as sort of a poor relation.

As I wrote here last week, this new feature is being 'invented' as it goes along. It has to cater to the nature of the magazine's readership, reflect what is going on in Paris, and yet be less than 10,000 words long. Far less.

When I last did this sort of thing for a paper magazine, a lot of items were 'rolled-over' month by month. This was okay because the magazine's readership was 'in transit' and it saved a lot of money for typesetting.

For Metropole I pay nothing for typesetting, but I have to consider that there are regular readers, first-time readers, ot those of you who are finding Metropole by using 'keywords' with Search Engines.

The other big consideration that has me sort of stumped is the fact that there are too many events happening in Paris and the Ile-de-France at any given time; except maybe in August. The problem isn't where to begin, but when to say 'enough's enough.' Send any ideas to the usual destination.

News from The Tocqueville Connection:

'The Tocqueville Connection' this week has comment about the 'PACS,' entitled 'Storm Over Liberal Lifestyles.' My explanation and comment about this is in this week's 'Au Bistro' column. For 'French Style,' there are also features about antiques selling steadily, and Eric Rohmer's 'Autumn Moods,' which is about his latest film.

The Online 'Dictionnaire Francophone'

The word 'francophone' refers to French-speaking rather than France, so in this language sensephoto: auto salon 3F stamp it is about French as spoken and written in Québec, Africa, Switzerland, Belgium and in France's overseas territories - as well as in France. French, like English, is not the same everywhere.

The Editions Hachette and the AUPELF-UREF have brought out the 'Dictionnaire Francophone' in paper and an abridged version of it is online. This version has 50,000 words and 116,000 definitions, of which 10,000 are purely 'francophone.' No verbs apparently.

The 'Quid' Online: 'Quidmonde 99'

The publisher Robert Laffont's 'Quidmonde 99' replaces the out-of-print CD-ROM, 'Quidmonde 97.' This online version of the 199 franc, 2,016 page annual 'Quid' encyclopedia, is a database containing information about 206 states and territories, with 201 maps and more than 1,300 photographs. There are also comparison tables for 231 subjects, and the resulting tables can be printed. If the online version is a little brother of the CD-ROM version; it in turn was a little brother to the book. Facts by the kilo, every year.

TV-Cable Goes 'Cyber' In Paris

Long in test - three years, long in pre-publicity - nearly forever - Internet access via TV-cable now seems to be a reality in Paris. At first available only in certain arrondissements, the system is expected to expand its coverage rapidly, to cover the city by January 1999.

This techno marvel is called 'Cybercâble.' It requires a special modem and the minimum service will cost 248 francs a month, which includes an amount for the rental of the modem. The access allows unlimited downloads, but 'uploads' are limited to 125 Mo per month. For an extra 100 francs, the 'up-limit' rises to 200 Mo and includes a permanent IP.

A normal Internet connection via an ISP costs 80 to 100 francs a month in France, with teleco lines charges on top. Add the two together and if it's less than 248 francs a month, then the 'Cybercâble' looks attractive - especially if Web surfing is a hobby.

Prize-Winning Town Site

Winner of the special jury prize for local Web sites at the recent Reims Multimédiaville Salon, the town of Draguignan was cited for its aesthetic quality, interactivity and content. Draguignan is located in Provence, about 40 kms inland by road from Frejus and the Mediterranean. Worth a visit, as they say in the guidebooks.

The French Constitution Goes Public

Either before or after a new law is passed in France, it has to survive a scrutiny by the 'Conseil Constitutionnel' before it becomes a 'law of the land.' If this august body decides the law does not conform to the Constitution, itphoto: grey day, hotel de ville is returned to the legislators for a fix or a rewrite. This saves having a Supreme Court to decide on these matters after the fact.

A city centre grey day yesterday; near the Hôtel de Ville.

For the 40th anniversary of the 5th République and its constitution, the 'Conseil Constitutionnel' has put a Web site online which gives learned answers to 20 commonly-posed questions; which is also a way of explaining how France functions legally.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Winter Sports

The ice cream company Miko has a polar bear as a mascot so it seems natural that it is the mascot of their winter sports Web site, which contains a lot of useful information about weather, snow, equipment, accommodations, resorts and facilities available in France - one of the world's winter sport centres. As far as this type of 'sport' is concerned, I prefer getting no closer to snow than ice cream and luckily I can get this across the street.

The French Basque Country

This is called 'Pays Basque' in France and it is an attractive part of the world, being snuggled between the Bay of Biscay and the western Pyrenees, opposite its Spanish cousin south of the border.

A Web site, part touristic and part economic was recently cited, and when I gave it a look I found links to other regional sites - one called Pays Basque and the other Côte Basque. I think the first one is named 'Pays Basque' too, but it has a companion site which is a showcase for handcrafts and a shop for local products. Don't worry about the names; all the sites are different.

Next Friday: 'Lire en Fête'

This is sort of a French language 'Lit-Online' party, set to appear on your browser starting Friday, 16. October and lasting until Sunday, 18. October. The Ministry of Culture and the online 'Lit-Zine,' Pagina are organizing this affair, which - besides literature and poetry - links all the French and Francophone Web sites taking part in 'Lire en Fête.' Long-time readers will probably remember that Pagina has been featured on Metropole's Links page since the year dot. The Fête is just another good reason to give it a hit.

This Week's Last Chance: Média Senat

If you can't be in Paris to visit the French Senate's exhibition called 'Média Senat' you can at least pay a visit to the Senat's Web site and perhaps leave your calling card. If you have little interest in history or politics, the hostesses are supposed to be worth a look, but these are not on the Web site. In contrast, the Senat's poster is in this issue.

Exhibition Média Senat
Musée du Luxembourg, 19. rue de Vaugiraud, Paris 6. Until Sunday, 18. October. Closed Mondays. No entry charge. Info. Tel.: 01 42 34 21 21.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 2.41 - 13. October 1997 - This issue featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'It's Raining But It's Not Pouring' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'French History Goes On Trial in France.' The issue had one article entitled 'Art Tools: Looking for a Friendly Pencil' and published an eMail from Allan Pangborn about 'The Hôtel de Ville Tool Shop.' There were two 'Posters of the Week.' Ric's Cartoon of the Week was called 'Art is... making your own pencil.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 446 short days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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