...Continued from page 1

Its fake German certificate of origin was recertified by a Dutch dealer and the load was handed over to a French shipper, who barged it through the canals to Marseille. There it was loaded onto a ship and carried to Bordeaux, where it was finally controlled by agents of the DGCCRF - or consumer fraud squad.

Result: 4,500 tons of ordinary French wheat worth about 80 centimes a kilo, but with the 'bio' label, worth between 1.60 and 1.80 francs a kilo. Think of all the transport costs, all the paperwork, all the time the capital was tied up - and then figure out the profit to all concerned. It's beyond me.

Meanwhile, At the Supermarket

Perfectly legally, the price of a bottle of name-brand mineral water can vary between 2.25 and 4.90 francs in the Paris area. The difference depends on whether you buy it in a colossal hypermarket, or a small neighborhood grocery store.

'Bio' is not an issue here, but markup is. A five-kilo sack of potatoes can vary in price between 4.90 and 35 francs. No decimal was left out; that is a price difference of 614 percent.

This was found out by comparison shopping around France by testers for the consumer magazine, 'Testez Pourphoto: rue des barres, paris 4 Vous' recently. They took a shopping list of 236 items, which included 88 'no-brand' products, to 681 shops and filled up their shopping carts.

The report doesn't mention the high and low amounts for this basket of goods, but did say that the small shops are 29 percent more expensive in general. Prices also vary between any kind of shop with the same name, with one hypermarket chain having variations between outlets of as much as 14 percent.

From Rivoli, come down to the Louis-Philippe by way of the Rue des Barres.

Another interesting number is 39,000 francs which is supposed to be the average consumer's total spending per year at the hypermarkets. It doesn't say this is for a family and it doesn't say this is the total food bill - the total may be higher.

Sports 'News'

A Grand Prix circuit in Marne-la-Vallée, just to the east of Paris? Ex-champion Alain Prost thinks it may be an April Fool's joke. In fact, nobody in racing, nobody inphoto: traditional bread the Seine-et-Marne department administration and nobody at Disneyland which is located in Marne-la-Vallée, believes in it.

But, In February, six men with no names met in a Michelin-rated two-star restaurant in Paris' 17th arrondissement to discuss the plan, according to Le Parisien.

The idea of holding Formula One Grand Prix racing in or near Paris has been floating around for years. One idea was to use the Champs-Elysées and the Seine's banks, but this has always been pure smoke. Other, existing, racetracks are just too small.

A study was apparently commissioned, and after rejecting every other possibility, it was left with Marne-la-Vallée as its conclusion. It is close to the A4 autoroute, served by a RER line, close to a TGV station, close to Disney's hotels, equidistant from Roissy and Orly - all that seems to be required is a big, unused, potato field. Plus between 600 and 800 million francs.

The six men with no names could possibly put it together, but the problem would then be finding ways to keep the track from being idle - as only one Grand Prix race a year is ever run at a single track.

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