The Week of the Paper

photo: cafe le sarah bernhardt
The café Sarah Bernhardt, on the place du Châtelet.

Boulogne Is Still There Too

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 16. November 1998:- This issue contains a feature about acquiring administrative papers. Doing this is not as interesting as walking around Paris and goofing off, but it was what I was doing for most of last week.

No matter where we live, we are 'papered.' Bits of paper and plastic we carry around with us, are physical elements representing data files someplace - and the how, why and wherefore of these vary from country to country.

How this works in France may not be terribly interesting - but the way of it will tell you a bit more about the French, and the nuts and bolts of 'Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité.'

This week's feature entitled 'Paper Chase' is mainly about finding some papers necessary for a foreign use. But it starts with some comments about the 'carte de séjour,' which are purely French.

In Europe, it is common for residents to carry some sort of government-issued identity paper - and I liken this to having an 'internal passport.' The concept may be strange to you, but it is a fact of life here. Eventually these ID cards will serve as European Community-wide 'passports,' and in many cases already serve this purpose.

If you are visiting France and Paris from outside the European Community, you will probably have your own country's passport already.

My wife has to renew hers. Luckily, Irish passports have versions that can last up to ten years, so their renewal is not something needing to be done frequently. She has all of her bundle of papers ready, but she wants one extraphoto: ww1 tank at boulogne item - to put our two boys on it too. If she doesn't do this all at once and she wants to add them later, then she'll have to get a whole new passport.

Not for civil defense, but part of Boulogne's remembrance of WWI last Wednesday.

When you live in France, a lot of your family data is stored at your local city hall. When you are married here, you get a booklet called a 'Livret de Famille,' which also contains the same information.

When you are required to produce this information for some reason, you do not show off your 'Livret de Famille.' Instead you go to your local city hall, and they produce a paper 'extract' of whatever it is you want. There is no charge for this. Then you add this paper to your bundle.

To put the two boys on my wife's new Irish passport, she has to furnish copies of the 'long form' of their birth certificates. Although this info is in the 'Livret de Famille,' it is not in its 'long form,' and this 'long form' in not in our local city hall; it is in the city hall of the place where they were born.

Fortunately, both of them were born in Boulogne-Billancourt, which is just a bit closer than Paris. On Friday, with our 'Livret de Famille' in hand, I drove over there. It's a good thing we don't live in Santiago, Chile.

After being lost for awhile in Boulogne I found myself sailing past the city hall and miracle of miracles, found a parking place almost right in front of it.

Inside the '30's-zoomy building, the reception desk pointed me to a line of windows; a lady took the 'Livret de Famille' and found the two birth references in big ledger-books. She made photocopies of the originals - typewritten entries - stamped them, had them signed by a 'higher authority' and turned them over to me, all within five minutes.

These are not 'long form;' these are certified copies of the originals - and they better be good enough! They look phoney as three-dollar bills; no letterhead, typed originally on an Olympia manual machine, hand-cut photocopy paper, official rubber-stamp for Boulogne and another for the date, and hand-signed by 'somebody.'

The Irish are a bit casual - or they seem to be - about their passports, so I'm sure the copies will be acceptable. How much 'better' can they be anyway?

The Latest About Boulogne

I should know that Boulogne does things a bit differently too. I got a taste of it before, which was written up in Metropole's issue 2.03 of 20. January 1997, as 'Boulogne-Billancourt - In a Worker's and Architect's Paradise.'

Boulogne must have its fans, because between 10 to 20 Metropole readers find the old feature every month and once found, I presume they read it.

Here's the update for Boulogne: the Musée des Années '30 did not move across the street andphoto: ww1 poster, boulogne reopen in 1997. Instead, Boulogne has built a whole new building, called the 'Espace Landowski,' which is right beside the Hôtel de Ville.

In addition to housing Boulogne's '30's museum, the building will also be the médiathèque, a cinèma, a cultural centre and an atelier-cum-babysitting centre. It is now supposed to open next month, on Saturday, 5. December.

A poster to be seen only in Boulogne- Billancourt.

When I last visited, in January of 1997, the ANPE employment office - which had dislodged the museum - had hooked itself up to the Internet. For this, it was the first in France to do so.

On Friday, the location was the same but the name is now 'Espace Cyber Jeunes' and it seems to be a purely Boulogne initiative, because ANPE agents are on hand only two half days a week.

This office is reserved for Boulogne residents aged 16 to 26 and has a program quite a bit wider than a typical state employment office - with offers of training as well as job hunting tools. It is also a centre offering everyday practical information in the areas of health and lodging, and other social benefits.

For citizens unlucky enough to be over 26, I was given a little card with the addresses of 15 cyber cafés - none of which are located in Boulogne.

I also learned that this centre has had 22,000 visitors since the beginning of the year. There are only 15,000 residents of Boulogne in this age group and the higher figure represents about a quarter of Boulogne's whole population.

Once Renault's main factory site, the Boulogne-shared redevelopment project for the Ile Seguin seems to have come alive after sleeping for some years, so I must keep an eye on it. And I'd like to finally see the museum I started out to visit in January of 1997 too.

If it ever stops raining, an architectural tour is a priority, because Boulogne has some very interesting bits to it - somewhat on the lines of unusual square shapes mixed with round shapes, some of which zoom quite a bit.

From The Tocqueville Connection:

The Tocqueville Connection' has new analysis about events in France this week. Remembrance Day on Wednesday, 11. November, saw Queen Elizabeth II of Britain assisting President Jacques Chirac with the traditional ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

With some sort of memorial in every town and village to the fallen in the war, France is still painfully aware of the lives lost in the conflict. This year's memorial marked the 80th anniversary of the end of the 'Great War.'

Controversy was stirred up by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin when he called for rehabilitation of 49 French soldiers 'shot as examples' as a result of a mass mutiny of some 40,000 soldiersphoto: new mediatheque in the spring of 1917, after 170,000 of them had been killed in a futile offensive led by General Robert Nivelle.

President Chirac said the Prime Minister's comments were 'inopportune' and conservative elements furiously denounced the notion. However, the 49 soldiers who were shot, have relatives too; and many people in France believe the slaughter was the fault of the era's officials, generals and ministers - who were unable to convince the troops they were not being needlessly sacrificed.

Boulogne's unopened but brand-new mediathèque building.

In the same issue, the possibility of a drifting apart of the present-day Franco-German alliance is discussed, under the title 'Franco-German Relations at a Crossroad.'

The War - By European Painters

Until the end of November 1999, the Mémorial de Caen, with five other European museums, is showing an exhibition named 'La Couleur des Larmes,' about WWI as painted by Europeans. Click on the opening page's image to get into the exhibition.

This Year's 'Prix Goncourt' Winner

In addition to details about this year's winning 'Confidence Pour Confidence' by Paule Constant, published by Gallimard, you will also find all of the winners of the 'Prix Goncourt' since 1903. At the same time, Dominique Bona was chosen for the 'Prix Renaudot' for her 'Le Manuscrit de Port-Ebène,' published by Grasset.

Meanwhile, Out In the Provinces

When you are in Paris or other heavily-visited areas you may think France is densely populated. This is far from the case and the Internet is helping to reduce rural isolation.

In the Ardéche, a group of communities has banded together to provide a network for themselves. 'Cyberloment' does much the same thing for the 'Pays du Lomont' in the Doubs; joining 20,000 inhabitants who are widely scattered throughout 46 different communities. These two sites are run by recognized intercommunal associations, and they do receive some aid - but mostly they do it themselves.

Now Back To Paradise

While people living in French provinces are putting up with a number of hardships and real physical isolation in order to stay where they are, other people prefer 'paradise,' even if it is only virtual.

However, here are two sites where the 'paradise' constructors want your help. The first is 'Do It Yourself Paradise In 3D,' where you can get the tools necessary for building parts of this, or your own, 'Paradise Island.'

The second site is run by the photo magazine 'ReVue' and they are collecting your photos of 'paradise,' under the title of 'Nous Irons Tous au Paradis.' Details for submissions can be found on the site.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 2.46 - 17. November 1997 - This issuecount down Eiffel Tower featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'For Runners and Walkers, Poets, Art Lovers, Historians and Oddballs' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Paris and Mercedes Have Woes While Disneyland Glows.' The issue had two articles, entitled 'On the Way to Somewhere... Close By - Châtelet 1' and ' Walking Around Châtelet and a Lot of History - Châtelet 2.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' for the second week in a row and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was subtitled, 'Taking 'M's' 'A' Train.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 411 24-hour days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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