...Continued from page 1

For the winegrowing region around Bordeaux, it was dream weather. No frost in March, little rain in July and 100 percent sunshine in August. A few grapes got grilled, but otherwise it was perfect. The harvest took place a week earlierphoto: cafe central than anticipated and the good weather held through October, enabling the vineyards to prepare for the following year.

This used to be my 'Bar Central.' Its owner moved to Bora-Bora, the bar expanded and got curtains, so I moved away too.

Seeing the weather from that point of view, over a long period, no 'global warming' trend is in evidence. Always capable of record highs or lows, over the long term, no extremes last for long. Not in Paris either.

Afraid of the Euro?

What the French are afraid of is that all 'rounding off' will be in the direction of up. This may happen to some extent, but the underlying inflation has been calculated to have risen 0.3 percent over the past year. This is down from a rise of 1.3 percent last year.

During the year price rises actually hit minus percentages three times. I have no idea how these numbers are calculated, but it should be remembered that there was a 'price-gouging' World Cup tournament during the year.

As a resident, I don't think increased taxes are included in the inflationary figures. Everybody is moaning about the new tax of the week and this is probably because they have lighter pockets. It's a good thing the statistics people don't weight pockets and purses.

For visitors though, all of this is good news. It means that prices are expected to remain stable - Euro or no Euro - and a holiday in France in 1999 should only cost a tiny bit more than in 1998.

Zinedine Zidane

This very tall, very fast kid from the back streets of Marseille, was awarded the magazine 'France Football's' 43rd 'Golden Football.' The somewhat shy Zinedine Zidane was France's team captain for the successful World Cup championships held last summer, and has also been awarded a 'Légion d'Honneur' by the President of France.

Zinedine Zidane was born in Boukhèlifa in Algeria, but moved with his family to France at a young age. For more than a precious moment last summer, France's win of the world championship also signaled a victory for all France's residents of North African descent.

Last week, Zinedine Zidane calmly walked through the storm of a Paris media circus, and just as quietly went away again, to play for Juventus of Turin. No French club can afford him.

Other Football News - PSG In Eternal Turmoil

In last week's issue, I noticed - quite by accident - that our local Big League club, Paris-Saint-Germain, was in another of its episodic pits. Last week, its boss, Charles Biétry, quit. He said he was 'responsible' and the cause of the team's woes.

Since he did not look terribly unhappy on TV-news, I suspect Mr. Biétry is quite content to get off the thankless hot seat. Pay-TV operator Canal+ has sent in their financial director, Laurent Perpère, and 47 year-old 'Enarque.'

Mr. Perpère is supposed to 'impose a new style of direction' at the hapless club. This means he will buy and sell players like any other football boss - with the difference that the fans are not semi-captive subscription payers. They want to see PSG victories and not one-star re-run movies with unknown actors.

And Now, the Winter-Sports News

photo: a small xmas tree Good news, snow freaks! As previously reported, all of France's alpine areas are covered by lots of snow. Bad news, snow freaks! All of France's alpine resorts are full up, booked solid, sold out; 'complet.'

This year's last, midget, Christmas tree. Humbug!

At this precise moment, this is largely due to so many residents having holidays between Christmas and New Year's. We're all supposed to go back to work on Monday, 4. January. The schools' winter holidays start on Saturday, 6. February - so you may have a five-week snow-freak opportunity between now and then. Take it if you must.

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