A Rosy-Smelling Métro

photo: bistro st andre
Fake wintry-look caused by deep shadows on nice day.

The 'Miss France' That Missed

Paris:- Sunday, 20. December 1998:- For the first time, Paris' transit authority, the RATP, has admitted - indirectly - that the underground métro stinks. It has also indirectly confirmed that passengers have been complaining about it.

Until now this has been a highly guarded secret. The existence of stink in the métro has only come to light as the RATP begins experiments to fill it with perfume, or 'scent' as it is known in the trade.

Invalides has been picked as the 'test' station, and 'Madeleine' is being tried out in it. 'Madeleine' has been concocted by the same fragrance lab that works for Thierry Mugler, and is supposed to give the underground a flowered smell.

In addition to 'underground' and various other unidentified odors, when it is warm the métro is pervaded by smells of super-hot giant disk-brakes, hot rubber on the lines with pneumatic tires, and the curious 'burning electricity' smell - as well as the hot-grease vapors fromphoto: le marche de felix the escalators. Except for the 'unidentified' smells, the ones directly related to operations probably exist in every métro system.

On an un-nice day, the café Le Marché de Félix looks like a warm haven.

In short, it is a jungle of stink underground. Either the RATP has told Le Parisien what passengers are saying since for the first time since 1900, or passengers have suddenly stepped forward to voice complaints.

Several passengers indirectly commented on the fact that there are very few public toilets underground, and only slightly more above ground. In France, it is generally considered rude to perform ordinary body functions anywhere except in the privacy of your own facilities - even if you don't have any.

I have heard people say they refuse to use the métro because other users stink. From wide personal experience, I can say this is rare.

I do wonder though, how people who don't use the métro know we stink. They must have accidently passed a ventilation grate on a sidewalk, and thought it was us they smelled. Us métro rats.

Beauty More Perceptible In the Studio Than On TV

A week ago on Saturday, the 1999 'Miss France' competition was broadcast on privately-owned TF1-TV and the show recorded 12 million viewers. Several of these viewers managed to make telephone or Minitel votes for their choice of the fairest in the land.

The voting was done in two rounds. In the first, 'Miss Paris' received nearly 29,000 votes to lead, closely followed by 'Miss Berry' by about 300 votes. After the show TF1 said nearly 300,000 had voted, but the content's organizers said it was only 210,000 - and it was this lower number which was used to determine the winner.

In the first round of voting, 'Miss Tahiti' trailed 'Miss Berry' by 6,000 votes. In the second round, 8,000 of 'Miss Paris' votes disappeared, while the rest of the contestants only dropped proportionately.

While viewers were phoning in votes, there was a studiophoto: xmas trees at odeon jury of 10 judges, headed by Sacha Distel. The jury voted consistently to place 'Miss Tahiti' in the lead, and according to the competition rules, the studio jury's vote counted for 66 percent, and the 12 million viewers split the other 33 percent.

Blue skies again; this time at Odéon last Wednesday.

The result? 'Miss Tahiti' became 'Miss France' for 1999 and 12 million TV viewers became seriously concerned. I didn't see any of this; but the photos in Le Parisien seem to indicate that 'Miss Paris' looks more like 'Miss Tahiti' and 'Miss Tahiti' really looks like 'Miss Norway.'

No doubt all of this was more clear to the studio judges. What remains bizarre, is 'Miss Paris' extraordinary loss of a disproportionate 8,000 votes. Maybe Parisians waited too long to cast their 80,000 uncounted votes in the second round.

Competition for Ciné Cité

After last week's fanfare and searchlights piercing the night sky over Paris, this week it is the turn of cinema biggie Gaumont to make a splash with the opening of its super-cinema at Aquaboulevard.

Aquaboulevard, on the site of the old Citroen works in the southwest 15th arrondissement, has been an indoor waterpark for some years now. Now, according to advertising by Gaumont, it is 14 'grand spectacle' cinémas, one - repeat one - aquapark and nine restaurants.

One of these days I'll ride métro line 8 down to Ballard and check the place out. In addition to 'big things' and their big publicity, there is also the Parc André Citroen and probably some other stuff worth seeing which is probably not quite so gigantic.

Paris Bids For the Olympics

A sure sign of a slow news week is a newspaper full of speculation about an event unlikely to happen. If the unlikely should occur, it will be in 2008. Nine and a half years from now.

That Le Parisien is very sports-minded is no secret and that it is owned by the all-sports paper L'Equipe is no secretphoto: rivoli at samaritaine either. That Paris could easily host the Olympics and many of its major events, was proved last summer with the successful World Cup tournament.

Despite comfort of department stores, many still shop at the street stands outside them.

But why, why is this being pushed at us now? The politicians who will pull us through a two-year 'Millennium Party' will be history by the time the Olympics can show up.

The other candidates for the 2008 games are Bejing, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka and Istanbul. Lille went after the games in 2004 and failed with their bid, despite strong local support and lots of cash. I do not know whether or not Paris supported Lille's bid.

In fact, I don't know who won the bid for 2004. Was it Athens? Will Athens ever get it? Why can't all the bid money be thrown in a pot, and used to build a permanent Olympic site in Greece? It's about time.

Other Sports News

'Encore Zéro' is Le Parisien's way of summing up home-town club PSG's match last Wednesday against Strasbourg. As I have been keeping my eye on 'Winter Sports' I have not been following the fortunes of our PSG.

Without my paying attention, PSG seemed to have not scored any goals in its last four outings. Le Parisien uses words like 'doubt,' 'desperation,' 'sterility,' 'incapable;' and 'resignation' in reference to the coach's future. And all of these words are in the sub-head. I haven't the courage to read the details in the body of the report.

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