...Continued from page 1

Paris Kid Gets 'Jackpot'

TV-news did not abandon eclipse news entirely late in the week to go gaga about the transfer fee paid by Real Madrid to Britain's Arsenal for young footballer Nicolas Anelka, whichphoto: terrace rue rennes, montparnasse was reported to be 220 million francs - something like 37 million dollars.

It was not a record for this transfer season, but it was pretty good for a big kid from Trappes in Yvelines, who will receive a monthly salary of two million francs, on a contract lasting seven years.

Anelka started out as a junior with PSG and went into first division competition at 17 in 1996. In January of 1997 he signed with Arsenal and was with them in 1998 when Arsenal captured the British Cup; scoring the winning goal over Newcastle. Called back to France for the national team, he was not selected to play in the World Cup last year.

The young footballer did not have an easy time with the sporting press in England, and we'll have to wait and see how he does with Real Madrid's fans, who will be expecting more than great things from this star player.

'Rules' Invade French Beaches and Resorts

In the summertime - and in this summer particularly - the French like to go to the beach and act relaxed.

They like to listen to music, smoke a Gitanes or two, and maybe have a little Rosé with their noontime picnic. If something is missing, they like to just go to the nearest shop in the seaside resort and get it.

This summer, in many places, some of or all of the above have been banned by certain beachside communities. The no-smoking rule applies to some beaches where grass and trees are near the sand and the fire hazard is high.

It also applies to some beaches that are very wide. As far as music goes, personal sound systems have been around for a long time, and not everybody wants to hear somebody's else's musical choices from a portable stereo box. Some people will not leave their portable phones at home either, but these have not been banned yet.

Apparently the mayors of some towns think shoppers wearing only bathing suits are a health hazard, and have set minimum dress codes. Deauville did this three years ago for the benefit of the idle well-offs, but this year it is neighboring 'populaire' Trouville that has followed suit - although without fines for infractions.

For the no-smoking, the fines can run from 900 francs to 5000 - but this is for the prevention of forest fires in risky areas, mainly where the windy Mistral is common.

Begging has been banned in Sète on the Mediterranean and 'aggressive' begging has been banned in Nice on the Côte d'Azur. The anti-nudity decrees affect Arcachon and Cannes as well as Deauville.

The drinking ban at Morlaix, Canet-en-Roussillon and Béziers seems to be the result of young people being careless with multiple sixpacks of beer, and their empties. Beach-side bar keepers do not all agree with the bans; somephoto: cosmos cafe, montparnasse are indifferent while others welcome them because the stuff is purchased at supermarkets.

Many of the French do not care for these bans, decrees and possible fines, even if they do not drink, smoke or go in for nude shopping. The beach is believed to be an area of 'total' freedom from city nuisances such as parking tickets and other forms of year-round stress.

The problem seems to be that there are many more older and conservative people around who want to have city standards of conformity, while there is a minority of young people who want to 'let it all hang out' a bit further than is really necessary.

The vast majority of the French are willing to accept 'laissez-faire' in summer, and many of the police called on to enforce the new regulations, would prefer not to.

Weather Forecast for the Eclipse

TV weather-news has been followed in Northern France with more attention than usual, as the date for the eclipse draws near.

In line with the media's tendency to act as a spoil-sport, weather reports late in the week were semi-gloomy for next Wednesday. Tonight's report has reversed this trend, with black clouds to the north and north-east, leaving a narrow band of clear air from the channel, almost to Alsace.

The official weather guru says, forecasts are accurate - plus-minus 500 kilometres. The path of the eclipse will not vary by 'plus-minus 500 kilometres' so on Wednesday, you will either need the smoked goggles, or you won't.

I will have my cameras' batteries charged fully, just in case. I will not cheat by taking any pictures at night, or just putting in black rectangles and calling them 'photos' either.

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