...Continued from page 1

The two craft touched, leaving a 20 centimetre scratch on the left wing of the Airbus, which managed to land on schedule. The glider pilot brought his machine back to its base in one piece too.

Note - A careful reader of Metropole - in December 2001 - has pointed out several serious errors in the above story. Follow this link for the corrections to these bungles.

Holidays in France

According to studies, 90 percent of the French have their holidays in France. There has been a three-day exhibition at Paris-Expo to flogcartoon: dud classic roadster local holidays to the natives. If it were not for Rétromobile, I would have gone too.

Maybe this is what France is all about. It is not only fairly big, it is also small enough to be handy. I missed the car racing out at Le Bourget over this weekend - partly because it would take me almost longer to get there than to fly to Madrid - but mainly because there are too many events and no matter how close together they are, it is not possible to do them all.

Old cars are fun, except for the funny noises they make sometimes.

Although everybody already knows about their favorite place at the seaside, on the mountains, or in the interior - 500 exhibitors were still at Paris-Expo with stands to try and convince us to go elsewhere, for a change.

Another 'fact' emerged and it claims that only two percent of the French book holidays through agencies. From another source, I heard that all tourist statistics are cooked up in some back room. That they are 'cooked' seems without doubt.

While true facts are hard to come by - you can't get statistics about people who stay overnight with relatives or friends - and many commercial operators may not want to give out exact figures for competitive reasons - the whole thing of the numbers of tourists or vacationers is pure speculation. Nobody 'knows' and there's no way to find out.

In summer, when Paris appears to be deserted, the papers will run stories about the 35 or 65 percent of Parisians who only take holidays once every four years. This will be followed a couple of days later by a feature about how to survive in the city with all the shops closed.

I propose keeping one number in mind. Going on holiday - 61 million. Staying home - 61 million. Foreign visitors - 61 million. Number of French residents - 61 million, not counting the homeless.

The TGV Moves East, Slowly

After about 218 years of haggling, the contracts and the plans for building the TGV line to Alsace have been signed and stamped with approval, and the money to build it has been budgeted.

The line, expected to be complete on 1. January 2006 - in the next millennium! - still faces environmental hurdles around Paris, as four points of departure are foreseen.

The Paris-Strasbourg run is expected to takeposter: italia 1999 two hours and 19 minutes from the Gare de l'Est. I cannot find a figure for the actual time, but I think I figured out the fast time would cut more than a hour from the current time for the journey.

Sports News Roundup

Many sportspeople were bumped off over the weekend by unstable snow conditions in the mountains. This is not including the 18 chalets wiped out by avalanches near Chamonix during the week. Many more were probably bumped off due to heavy traffic on account of the beginning of school holidays combined with bad road conditions.

I don't want to be overly negative about winter conditions in France, since residents here seem to firmly believe in 'douce France' regardless of what the weather is actually doing.

Lots of snow on the TV-news looks very nice and fluffy, but it is often very dangerous - even to the people on the lookout for it.

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