I'd Walk a Mile for a Baguette

photo: bistro du dome, bastille

Montparnasse's Le Dôme has a branch at Bastille.

Your Ducks are In Danger, Louis!

Paris:- Sunday, 11. July 1999:- You may be ready to do this, but Madame, Le Parisien's housewife, is grumbling about it. Here it is traditional vacation time in France and the butcher, the baker and the shops downstairs are taking advantage of it.

In Paris, Madame says she can get everything, but it is a little further away. If all of the local shops are closed, she wants to know why they can't post the addresses of their summer substitutes, like pharmacies do for their weekly closing days.

Apparently Monsieur is grumbling too. While Madame is trudging 'all over town' to get daily necessities, her substitute 'finds' do not match the quality found in the closed shop downstairs. In some extreme cases, Madame is even forced to resort to supermarkets, which are mostly open all year-round.

This story is in Le Parisien and it is a real cook-up job. Thephoto: theatre montparnasse fact is, very few Parisians live above their favorite shops and many routinely shop at supermarkets. Not everybody lives next to a street-marché either - so the walking to shop is reality and normal.

Not all of the theatres in the Rue de Gaité are named 'Montparnasse.'

Out in the country, it can be a real problem when the village's only baker takes off for a month of play and frivolity - but in Paris, substitutes for favorite shops are seldom far away. Monsieur could help out a bit too instead of watching summer re-runs - re-runs of last summer's re-runs that is - on TV.

The plus side of shopping in summer, is mostly about the fact that Madame and Monsieur are themselves away on holidays - thus shortening the lines of the cash counters, no matter where they are.

The Angst of the Back-seat Driver

About a third of French lady front-seat car passengers have fear often or quite often, according to a recent study done for the 'Securité Routière' organization. When hubby is driving, Madame is not tranquil.

Lady passengers, 'who are on the edge of a nervous breakdown,' do not necessarily tell their driving husbands. But 29 percent do, while 32 percent only rarely, and 12 percent never do.

'Making the situation worse' is one reason not to bring it up whilephoto: trottoir merde moto the car is in motion. 'Bothering the driver' is another reason for not doing it. But apparently resignation is wrong because in two cases out of three, the driver will take a warning seriously.

The daring young man on the green motorcycle helps to keep Paris sidewalks clean.

The study was done to find out how to get drivers to act a bit more responsibly. Getting the messages of angst from passengers through to drivers might work, psychologists think; but to expect a lot of wisdom from younger ladies who might appreciate speed just as much as the next guy, is too much.

Another expert thinks the average passenger might not be the best source of a co-pilot. Moms fear the risks of driving too and may not want to relieve dad for parts of long hauls; thus setting off a long silence while pop sweats it out behind the wheel, driving to the edge of his competence.

The Prosecutor Hates Jokes

You may remember the story around Halloween time last year about the flying virgins and the waltzing candles at Saint-Hubert church in the village of Delain. After an exorcist was called in by the Archbishop, the cops finally got the mayor to confess to the hanky-panky.

On Thursday the trial judge decided not to follow the prosecutor's demand for four months' suspended sentence and loss of civil rights and the right to vote, and settled on a sentence of 150 hours of community service.

The state prosecutor had also demanded a penalty 'inversely proportional to the impact of the media' on the story. As a 'media person' I do not know if this means I will be partly responsible for the ex-mayor getting community service or not getting a harder time.

According to his lawyer, the ex-mayor 'confesses every day.' An exorcist has been mopping up too. Apparently, it was the ex-mayor's intention to have nothing more than a little - and local - joke on the village's 200 inhabitants.

But he had not reckoned on the 'vampire' press, ever watchful for good 'miracle' stories. 'We' forcedphoto: armada de siecle, le parisien him into elaborating the joke, to amuse the world, is how it goes. I'll admit the press can be a bit seedy at times; but it's just plain bad taste and greed - not outright malice.

It is not our concern that 'France was made to look ridiculous' or that the 'law and justice were mocked.' This is what the prosecutor imagines.

To the prosecutor these opinions are a serious offenses, even if they can't be proven to be facts. Therefore additional charges of theft, insults to public officials and destruction of public property are still being considered.

It seems as if our hapless ex-mayor, 32, didn't realize there are some people in France who think joking is illegal. This in itself is a joke and the authorities seem determined to prove they don't get it.

Madame, La Zingueuse

The Prime Minister's office has run up a flag proposing to change the gender of some French words to suit the gender of the person to whom the word is attached. This comes after a lady cabinet minister objected to being officially known as 'Le Ministre.'

Just to prove that the French language is not stuffy or indifferent to changing winds, the Prime Minister's proposal includes changing 'un docteur' to 'une docteure,' 'un pizzaïol' to 'une pizzaïola,' 'un rabbin' to 'une rabbine' and 'un zingueur' to 'une zingueuse.'

This is fine with me, and will be helpful when I call government ministers on the phone. If I need a zinc roof fixed I may as well call in une zingueuse as un zingueur, but I'm not quite sure what I will get when addressing une pizzaïola. My antique 'Nouveau' Petit Larousse - apparently masculine - just says 'pizza' and lets it go at that.

France Télécom's Revenge

For some time all sorts of XYZ characters have been peddling 'magic' phone cards for making low-priced calls. I've wondered how they can offer these sweet deals, while using national monopoly operator France Télécom's lines.

The answer comes when the Authorité de Régulation des Télécommunications - 'RT' for short - decides to let good old FT whack a 25-centime per minutephoto: la comedie italienne, rue gaite tax on top of what it charges independent operators - who have been buying the interconnection service at wholesale prices, passing on the savings, and thereby undercutting FT's retail rates for its own phone cards.


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