...Continued from page 1

Tweety At Concorde

It slipped my mind last week, but going through the métro station at Concorde has reminded me of its total redecoration in RATP green, with a blue stripe. The big posters are gone and they have been replaced by small photos of mountain scenes, with flowing streams and high pastures.

For line one, this is a vast improvement in decor, and I was amazed to hear in the connecting line 12 station, the sounds of birds chirpping. At first I though it was static, because the birdsong has a rushing water background - and this does not come over the underground station's loudspeakers too clearly.

It all seems to be a promotion for a washing powder, and even includes dozens of small cuckoo-clocks - which, when I looked at one of them, had the correct time. After the soap is gone, I hope the RATP keeps the colors. Much better than the old purple and yellow, with original rivets.

Divorce French Style

France is a modern country so it has modern social items such as divorce, like its neighbors. A poll indicates that the French don't like it much, as it is usually depressing.

Since France is a modern country, it is talking about 'reforming' the divorce procedure. This is, in itself, not all that startling, because France is in the process - almost eternal - of "reforming' just about everything.

The interesting thing about the report is the French invention of a new name for divorce. It is 'démariage.' It has more letters than 'divorce' but seems less heavily freighted with the negative intonations of it. I wonder if it will catch on outside of France.

Trouble In Minitel Paradise

France Telecom's Minitel is a neat idea. They give everyone with a telephone one, and with it telephone subscribers can consult some 25,000-odd online info services.

The Minitel is a neat deal for France Telecom and the approximately 10,000 suppliers of these consultable services, because the two share the extra line rates charged to users; and detailed on their phone bills

These extra rates can run up to 5.57 francs a minute - over a dollar - and have made many 'Minitel Millionaires' as well as France Telecom very happy.

Until now that is. France Telecom has announced that it is raising the basic rate for upscale providers from 252 francs perphoto: village 11 november memorial month to a thousand. This will hurt many local associations who have been financing themselves through Minitel receipts.

The same sunny day on 11. November, but in a deep shadow.

But for the 'Minitel Millionaires' this is a drop in the bucket. I have heard of providers, who have paid the basic 252 franc fee, having services that get tens or hundreds of thousands of calls a month, and after their cut with France Telecom, still need an armored car to take the cash to the bank.

Public services are in on it too. You would think the train timetables would be paid for by train travel ticket sales, but if you look them up with a Minitel, you'll be paying a premium to see a robot throw four items of info on a tiny screen, crammed with ads.

At the standard slow connection rate, moving to the next page's display is painfully - but in the pocketbook, heavy - leisurely.

The Big One

France's Loto organization is a bit heavy with cash too, so when Friday the 13th rolls around, they open up their vaults a bit and run an extra loto just for this day.

Sometimes the pot is 50 million, but last Friday's was a cool 100 million francs - a bit less than 20 million dollars.

One player scooped it up and on Saturday morning was richer by 100,024,920 francs. He or she, let the loto robot pick six random numbers instead of going through the hard work of handwriting six 'X's in each set of 49 numbers. This player did not get any double '44's either.

Some time ago, I saw that this amount would generate about 400,000 francs a month, for life - and well beyond it.

'Winter' Sports News

The 6th Route du Rhum sailboat race from France to Guadaloupe is continuing against strong winds and big seas. A couple of boats have lost their masts and abandoned.

Most of the sailors are taking a northerly route and there are a group of five leaders who a pretty close together, somewhere around 30 degrees west at 40 degrees north; which is due west of Portugal.

A couple of gamblers are much further south, below a straight line from France to the finish line at Point-à-Pitre. Loick Peyron is around 23 degrees west and about 36 degrees north and Francis Joyon was last reported at 15 degrees west, by 26 degrees north.

Proper Winter Sports are taking forever to get underway, so I direct you to the winter sports Webphoto: damart, 30 percent off site to while away the wait. It contains a lot of useful information in French and English about weather, snow, equipment, accommodations, resorts and facilities; all of which are available in France's more vertical areas.

I don't suppose the '30%-off' will last long after the first snowflake, so hurry on down the the nearest Damart shop.

As far as this type of 'sport' is concerned, I have always preferred getting no closer to cold and snow than my car in the underground garage. Luckily I can get to this without going outside. I have also been seriously thinking for years of getting some of Damart's very warm underwear, but I'm afraid that if I do, I will get wangled into delivering flyers from door to door.

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