Music Day in France

photo: au metro, pernety

Nobody knows why this bar has this
mascot, or what it is.

Gay Parade Day In Paris

Paris:- Sunday, 27. June 1999:- La Fête de la Musique played all France last Monday and this event rated three of La Parisien's first three pages, with a half-page shot on the front page on Tuesday. Every sort of music was featured and all of it was free.

Some of it was hard to hear as musicians were packed chorus to rock band to accordionists, under the booming vaults of the arcades at the Place des Vosges. On Montmartre, the differencesphoto: le petit bistro were spread out just enough along the Rue Lepic and into Abbesses, so you could walk downhill from a Brazilian group to a mini-rave to a rock group playing '60's standards.

The friendly bar-keeper of the Petit Bistro gave the quarter a good PR boost.

At 22:00 the Place de la République was full up and 20 thousand were in front of the Assembly National for another concert. Despite the coolness of the evening, tens of thousands poured out of the métros to catch everything going in the Quartier Latin; regardless of this year's lack of big stars.

This day of music is one residents put on for themselves, just to have the good times rolling, and I'm sorry I get it wrong every year and think it is a weekend affair. For next year I note 21. June right now; it is a Wednesday. Maybe it'll be a warm one too.

Austerlitz On the Rails?

Every time you turn around a little bit of Paris disappears. In this case it concerns the Gare d'Austerlitz, which has seen its long-distance traffic reduced by a third, to just 50 trains a day.

In a way, Austerlitz is my favorite station. My favorite train, the 'Puerto del Sol' used to - maybe still does - leave it daily for the run to Madrid, where it arrived about 8:30 in the morning. With the car rolled off if, it was possible to clear Madrid by 10:00 and be on the road crossing La Mancha and arrive at Malaga by nightfall.

The expansion of the Gare Montparnasse has gobbled up most of Austerlitz's traffic to the south-west. The SNCF direction is holding its planning cards close to its vest, but the station's unions have their plans too and they're thinking of expanding the station's function of car-trains, plus maybe running a little freight up from Rungis.

Austerlitz is close to or in the developments around Bibliothèque Nationale, which make its 130 hectares look very attractive - for other uses.

Time Is Running Out

A guy named Jean-Bernard Métais is crazy about egg-timers and eclipses. If I've got this right, he is building a giant sand-clock in the Jardin des Plantes. It will have a huge cone seven metres in diametre, whichphoto: la belsere will hold 40 tons of carefully selected sand. This will be inside a glass cube, sitting on a platform pierced with 150 holes.

Another neighborhood bistro in the same quarter.

Through a system of trap-doors he can let the sand through to form designs, and expects to do a different one every six months.

The starting time will be at 12:30 on 11. August, when the eclipse begins, and it will continue until June 2001. Mr. Métais has been experimenting with this particular project since 1991, to get the flow of sand to match the passing of time. Exactly.

Coke Panic Lasts One Week

One week after Coca-Cola products were yanked from French shelves, they were back on them again. All the analysis, done by everybody, turned up nothing negative. All the people who were ill - in France - were so by auto-suggestion, it has been suggested.

According to food gurus, how to eat well in France is not strictly a question of being able to pay a lot for the finest quality. Time spent searching for the best products can turn them up, but time is what the French do not seem to want to spend on shopping.

In 1964 a French household spent a third of its budget on food and today it is only 18 percent of household income. Looking over a short list of products such as ham, eggs, chicken legs, smoked salmon and milk, it appears as if the premium for quality runs to about 100 to 150 percent more. Ordinary ham is 40 francs a kilo and 'selected' ham goes for 105 francs.

The price difference goes for taste alone. The minimum price buys a guarantee of 'fit to eat' - baring accidents - and the maximum price buys 'tastes good to eat' as well as 'fit to eat,' baring accidents.

A friend of mine, a good eater, said the other day it is possible to make a good meal for one for 10 francs. He lives half a block from a street marché and he has the time to spend on selection.

If you take the 'quality' ham mentioned above at 105 francs a kilo, and make ten slices of it, add some fresh bread and butter, and a bit of mustard, you will have 10 terrific sandwiches costing about 11 francs each. Okay, so it is about two bucks for one - but what's a good ham sandwich worth to you?

Gay Pride Parade In Paris

Being distracted by other matters I only learned of this event last night from the TV-news. I think I heard it was a Euro-wide event yesterday, but the TV gave the Paris edition good coverage. Somewhere in there I thought I heard an estimate of 200,000 spectators.

By Sunday this figure was being quoted as something between 50,000 and a quarter million. The paradephoto: les cousins d'alice was still in progress at the time of the Saturday evening TV-news, and there didn't seem to be any reason to think everybody would get to République and then simply go home.

Light and shade falls on where Alice's cousins shop.

The parade, as seen on TV, seemed very gay with many colorful costumes, something like 40 floats, and a thick crowd of civilians out to cheer the party on.

What I can't figure out is, as distracted as I am, how can I not know something like this is going to take place?

I've been all over a lot of Paris recently, gone past thousands of posters in métro tunnels, seen some TV-news and glanced occasionally at a few newspapers. Basically, why did I hear nothing about Paris' Gay Pride parade on radio France-Info?

Did it stop being a secret only after it balled up all of Paris all day yesterday? I'll try and remember it for next year - Gay Pride comes right after the Fête de la Musique; at the beginning of summer. I've written it down on a yellow post-it.

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