Their Waterloo Could Be
Our Fontenoy

photo: bistro le saint severin
In rare fall sunlight, the tidy bistro Saint-Severin.

Strikes End - Inconclusively As Usual

Paris:- Sunday, 8. November 1998:- It has finally occurred to Florent Longueppé - almost four years after the Eurostar's first Paris-London run through the channel tunnel - that the destination in Britain is named 'Waterloo.'

'Waterloo' is not a glorious word in French history, so the RPR's Ile-de-France regional deputy has written to Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to complain about it. He wants its name changed.

If this is not done, Mr. Longueppé, who is elected from the area of the Gare du Nord, has threatened to have it renamed 'Gare du Fontenoy,' in commemoration of another battle in Belgium, which Louis XV's troops won.

In France this battle is also famous for commencing with the command given by the Comte d'Auteroche, addressed to the British commander, Lord Hay. The count said, "Messieurs les Anglais, tirez les premiers."

Apparently the British tabloids have jumped on this with their usual frenzy and total lack of humor. Mr. Longueppé doubts WWIII will result, even if he is a distant, but republican, descendent of William the Conqueror.

Paris' So-Called Weather

The weatherman finally dropped his customary reluctance to say we have been having something remotely approaching the category of extreme weather. If he'd waited a couple of minutes longer, we would be down the drains by now.

The good news is the rain seems to have finally stopped being nearly non-stop. High river levels in northern and eastern France are dropping, and the sun was actually visible in Paris last week.

After a wet September, France has been treated to the wettest October in 50 years. In the Ile-de-France region, 140 toposter: mois de la photo 180 millimetres of rain fell; more than double the average amount of 60 millimetres. The weatherstation at Orly was hit by rain on 26 days in October. In eastern France, the average rainfall for the time of year tripled.

As France has had a series of relatively dry years, the recent rain has served to fill up the ground-water reservoir - to the point where it has overflowed in places.

Although the Seine in Paris surged upwards 30 centimetres last Monday, it was still 80 centimetres short of its flood level - and the roads along the quais remained open to traffic.

The Strike(s) News:

This week the 'strike news' is short. The strikes at the new Bibliothèque Nationale at Tolbiac; the Tour Eiffel; and the limited strikes on some RATP bus lines - are all over. Repeat: over. Finished.

Concerning the BnF, for more complete information, try the Web site of the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand or the alternate information which may be currently available about the resolution of the strike.

The students had their last demo of the season on Thursday in Paris and in other cities around France. While the numbers of marchers decreased dramatically to about 2600 in Paris, police measures increased indirectly in proportion, to 1800 officers. The 'casseurs' were back as well, and seven of them landed in jail.

In Paris, the police also 'picked up' 600 cars and trucks along the parade route, starting at 19:00 on Wednesday, and moved them elsewhere; mainly to free spots in nearby streets. Restaurant customers are believed to have reported a lot of stolen cars.

Art Squats Multiply In the Third

As Le Parisien puts it, 'le squat artistique du 6. rue Thorigny,' has a new branch office. The occupation, by roofless artists, of the building opposite the Musée Picasso, was reported in Café Metropole issue 3.22 on 1. June of this year.

Two weeks ago the increasing overflow of young artists tookphoto: art squat over a building abandoned for the past seven years, at 6. rue de Pastourelle. With the squat in the rue Turenne, this brings the total to five for the third arrondissement alone; of which three are 'artistic.'

The interior of the 'art squat' across the street from the Musée Picasso. Photo taken last May.

The mayor of the 3rd is getting annoyed, especially with the squat across the street from the Picasso museum, which the artists are calling 'Socapi,' which is verlan for Picasso. The building is dangerous - it is true - and it siphons off visitors to the official museum - this may be true too, as it is a lot cheaper.

On Tuesday, the council of the arrondissement meets to decide whether to vote to ask the police to take action. In other words, this story is to be continued next week.

'Fresh' Fries, Not French Frites

One invention that the French will be proud not to have invented, is the coin-operated 'frites' automat. Two different versions of this 20th century wonder are on show at the current Vending Machine Salon.

You pop your money into the Italian machine and 90 seconds later, out pops a cup with about 20 hot 'french fries' in it. The other, Swiss, machine uses potato gloop instead of real chips, and puts out exactly 37 'frites,' which might be a bit more like thin potato pancakes than real fries.

Not knowing what ethnic Italian chips are like, I can only say I am waiting to see how the expected-soon Belgian machine woks out.

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