...Continued from page 1

No Vacancy

Of the 330,000 students expected to be doing higher studies in Paris this fall, slightly less than half do not live with their parents and must find lodgings - very quickly.

If they can get a rare place in a student residence - there are about 8500 rooms available, thenphoto: morris toilet they will pay about 750 francs rent per month. Getting a private sector studio or small apartment will easily cost from 2500 to 4000 francs a month.

Some students started their search last spring but the big assault is on now - some weeks before classes begin. There are student organizations that act as agents for apartment seekers, but there are far fewer offers than demands.

Student toilet near métro Jessieu, in the Latin Quarter.

Some students find rooms in apartments, in exchange for services like babysitting. But there are abuses; such as having six square metres in return for 18 hours of baby-minding a week. Paying 2300 francs for 13 square metres could be like paradise in comparison.

I expect I will start seeing a lot of anxious students scanning the window displays of estate agents, now that the agencies are reopening after their summer holidays.

Once the student has found lodgings, the next step is to get a chair to sit on at school. More about this in a couple of weeks.

High, Black Walls

My neighborhood prison, La Santé, is not everybody's darling. The prison, built in 1867, takes up 30 hectares inside Paris and its neighbors are tired of looking at its high, black walls.

The justice minister has announced a grand plan of renovation for French prisons and La Santé is very high on the list of those to be fixed up.

Thierry Ragu, an administrator at the Mairie of the 14th - the city hall where the prison is located - thinks it would be a better idea to knock it down, sell the valuable land and build 'two or three' new prisons elsewhere - in the suburbs, out in the country - with the proceeds.

Apparently there are arguments for keeping the big jail in Paris - such as it is handy for the detention of prisoners. Thierry Ragu says cars and buses have been invented since it was built - prisoners could be transported from somewhere else.

I hope somebody takes up Thierry Ragu's proposal before somebody else decides La Santé is a national monument, and we have to keep it forever.

Radio Sports News

Along with the latest radio news I get from France-Info about the 'Life of Plants' and other subjects, sports news is intriguing. Last week French athletes were competing at a track meet in Seville.

According to France-Info, no other nationality seemed to be taking part in the track meet - so all the reports were about how French athletes were doing with quarter-finals and semi-finals. They had really good chances, the radio news said.

What a surprise then, on Friday morning to hear that Michael Johnson of the USA won the world championship for the 400-metre sprint. I wasn't awarephoto: kiosque flottant any Americans were competing.

I suppose sports news is like this in all countries. Until some people you never heard of are on the podium getting the gold and silver medals, you think only your nation's athletes are competing. The final score can be a big let-down after an intensive rah-rah buildup.

This happened on Friday to Stéphane Digana, France's champion for the 400-metre hurdles. The world-record holder came in second after Fabrizio Mori of Italy, to win the silver medal - which is not too shabby.

Le Parisien still devoted two full pages to Digana for the near-win; mentioning in passing that Mori had been disqualified in the semi-final, but had been reinstated after an appeal - thus hinting how Digana could have easily won the final. Runners three and four finished 1/100th of a second behind Digana.

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