...Continued from page 1

Another aspect of it is, you can buy your virtual 'plot' in advance, and design it yourself - not forgetting to leave your own self-edited biography as a public record of your good deeds. The Internet is good for more things than you imagined, isn't it?

Champagne Shortage Rumor Is a Base Canard

I haven't heard this rumor myself, but it is a sign that people are really serious about getting ready for the evening of 31. December 1999 or 31. December 2000, or probably both dates.

The spokesmen for the Champagne moguls showed up in Paris last week to deny the rumors of a shortage of Champagne for 2000. Putting out an estimated 320 million bottles is supposed to be 'no problem.' This is 20 million bottles more than they've got lined up to sell this year.

And besides, there is a bit of Champagne in the cellars - 900 million bottles! But remember, keeping these in stock is not cheap.

No shortage then, but the price - the price for bottom-level Champagne has climbed from its longtime price of about 50 francs retail, to 70 francs. Nevertheless, the big houses are promising future rises of no more than four to six percent, over this year's prices.

Now that everybody is stirred up by 'rumors,' the advice is to buy your Champagne early, just to be doubly sure - sure of having some and pretty sure about the price.

'Les Riches' At the Flea Market

Over the past while, there have been little mentions in the press about all the famous and beautiful people who have been passing their time out at the Marché aux Puces at Saint-Ouen. The flea market is 'in.'

As these things go in Paris, the 'big hats' do not go out there in block-long limos and create circuses of themselves. Shopping for stuff, even used, is fun, even for people who can hire other people to do it for them.

photo: rain behind procopeBut the flea market is very popular and in a year draws about 11 million visitors, which is a bit more than the Tour Eiffel. With this sort of a crowd, and no métro sound-system to warn about pickpockets, there is a bit of urban insecurity.

Some time ago, after a Belgian dealer was mugged, the other dealers applied for 283 gun permits. Instead of granting them, the security authorities decided to assign some undercover dicks to the scene - seven in all. This may be upped to nine before this year's end.

Apparently it is thought that uniformed policemen will disturb the browsers and buyers; and a few plainclothes officers will do. Well, now you know - if you don't see any cops at the Puces, they are really there, somewhere.

The BnF at Tolbiac May Still be On Strike

Despite combing through the papers, the last mention of the strike by BnF employees I can find dates to last Wednesday. Apparently talks are now centered around classic working-condition issues.

One item demanded is a weekly day off, or rather, one day a week when the BnF is closed entirely. Many state museums close on Tuesdays, and Paris' own establishments such as museums and libraries, are often closed on Mondays.

For more information, try the Web site of the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand or the alternate information which may be currently available about the strike.

Winter Sports News

All of this 'championship' is too early for me, so I am declaring football 'not a winter sport,' and will use this space instead to not report on real winter sports.

Since these do not seem to have gotten underway yet, I direct you to the winter sports Web site, which is sponsored by Miko ice cream. The site contains a lot of useful information in French and English about weather, ice cream, snow, equipment, ice cream, accommodations, resorts and facilities as well as ice cream; all of which are available in France's more vertical areas.

As far as this type of 'sport' is concerned, I have always preferred getting no closer to cold and snow than a map showing the whereabouts of northern Canada. Luckily I can get some tropical fruit drink, complete with warm-looking vacationing polar bears eating ice cream on the label, right across the street. This is not a paid announcement.

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