...Continued from page 1

Jean-Marie Le Pen Risks Homeslessness

The wife of the leader of the extreme-right political party the Front National has lost a court battle which may put her and her husband out on the street.

Before their marriage, Madame Le Pen sold a substantial house in Reuil-Malmaison in 1987, but neglected to move out of it. It's rentphoto: roast chicken has been estimated by an expert to be worth 26,000 francs a month, but the Le Pens have never paid a centime in rent to the owners.

If you haven't time to window-shop, the food's in the street too.

The owners have gotten court orders - on 8. February 1995 - to evict the occupants, but they have stayed on. This order was confirmed by the appeals court in February of this year. In August, the Le Pens ignored a court officer's expulsion order. Now it is winter, and the illegal occupants cannot be shifted.

The Le Pens have counter-attacked, by claiming in court the right to lease the house for 12,000 francs a month; which is less than half its rental value.

The house's owners think this is a stalling manoeuvre. Meanwhile they'd like to see more than three million francs in back rent. The Paris court will decide about the 'right to lease' in January.

The Transport Strike(s)

Outside of Paris and a corridor running up to Belgium and the Calais area, SNCF train operations are still being upset by striking ticket controllers throughout France. Apparently all lines have trains running, but at the rate of one in four or one in three of their regular schedules.

Since this action is not affecting the Paris area, stories about it are not on front pages here. Inside the papers there are reports about the growing annoyance of train users. Out in the country, unlike Paris, when trains do not run there is often no alternate method for getting from 'A' to 'B.'

The Unemployed Are On Strike Too

After some weeks of minor demonstrations, associations of the unemployed have called for an all-out national strike on Thursday, 10. December.

In scattered areas, the unemployed have been occupying unemployment offices, and more of these actions have been announced for Monday. Apparently, the directors of some of the branches close them to avoid occupation, and about a third of them are now closed in Paris - one way or the other.

The unemployed in Marseille have been particularly insistent in their demands for a 3,000-franc Christmas 'bonus.' This 'bonus' was called for in past years, and in some cases was granted.

Good News For Veggie Lovers

As you probably already know, the French are fond of food. What the French particularly like is fresh food, and what they like even better is fresh food made by and handled by real people. (You can read about this in this issue, in the story about the out-door marchés).

With this mania for freshness, it should come as nophoto: oyster stand surprise that 'Bio-food' is gaining fast in popularity in France. There is 'bio'-Champagne and there is also a 'bio'-Cassis for making 'bio'-kirs.

Ireland exports 'bio'-fresh or smoked salmon to France, and there are also 'bio' chickens, lamb, and even escargots. Cheeses are made from 'bio'-milk and there are 'bio' desserts too. No coffee is grown in France, so 'bio' coffee coming from Chiapas in Mexico should be no surprise, except for its price.

Not only 'in' the street, but sold on it as well. Here: oysters.

While I am reading about all this 'green' food, my eye has wandered to the opposite page, where one headline says 'La Première Ecolo-Voiture' and another reads, 'La 406 Met Son Diesel au Vert,' which may mean you can truck your veggies home from the market in a 'bio'-car.

'Winter' Sports News

In one way or another, a lot of winter sports items have passed before my eyes during the week. I am sorry now I didn't note them down as they came along, because now they are scattered about and there is no time to put their details together.

Snow is everywhere and all the ski stations are open. I have learned that some smaller stations, in order to compete, are arranging themselves to handle the fans of snowboarding and other unusual sports - who are not always welcome in the big, traditional ski resorts.

Smaller resorts also mean smaller prices, less crowding and friendlier service, and perhaps more of it. The smaller places have to 'try harder' so they do.

It is also possible, that you are like me and do not care a dot for 'winter sports,' and would just as soon not see any here. If this is the case, let me know - because there are plenty of other subjects to treat. If I ever get around to them.

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