War On the Seine

photo: wine bistro, le nemrod

Late afternoon sun shows off that fellow's yellow
skirt rather nicely.

Sandy and Lydie Go Shopping

Paris:- Sunday, 26. September 1999:- A week or so ago, a court official quietly seized the entire fleet of 13 ships belonging to the Compagnie Bateaux-Mouches on account of an unpaid river navigation bill.

The bill was for nine million francs. The value of the cruise company's fleet is estimated at 250 million. This company is a leader in a sector that hauls four million passengers a year; who spend some 400 million francs.

Apparently the dispute goes back to 1989, when a competitorphoto: police on horses on rivoli got the concession to operate the Batobus river ferry. Along with the concession, was the permission to pick up and drop passengers from desirable quays - which the regular bateaux-mouches cannot do.

Paris police on patrol on Rue de Rivoli on Wednesday.

In 1996, a day before the concession came up for renewal, Bateaux-Mouches owner Jean Bruel was attacked by unknown assailants and hospitalized; and he failed to make his bid for the Batobus monopoly.

Since then, Mr. Bruel and his British associates have taken his case to Brussels - against the Porte de Paris, the city's river authority. He has also attacked the port authority directly in a Paris commercial court - a week before his fleet's seizure.

The Compagnie Bateaux-Mouches' principal competitor is a French company, Sodexho, which belongs to the US company, Marriott.

At stake are the valuable landing stages, now monopolized by Batobus - although they were paid for with city funds - taxpayer's money.

Sandy et Lydie

Two sisters, one married with two kids and the other with neither. Sandy, one year younger than Lydie, was a bit unhinged by the death of their mother, but the sisters were each other's best friends.

It is not clear which of the two first had the idea for the holdup. But they 'borrowed' grandpa Willy's starter pistol, borrowed hubby's car and told the kids they were going shopping.

Instead of merely shopping, they bought ski-masks, dressed inphoto: wine bistro l'ecluse overalls, put on latex gloves and sunglasses, and painted over the license plates.

Thus equipped, they held up their own village's post office and made a clean getaway with 30,000 francs.

After paying for car repairs, buying six porcelain dolls, visiting some restaurants and buying a dog for Lydie's kids; after three months 'on the run,' they were apprehended. How they were tracked down was not disclosed.

More good wine at Madeleine in l'Ecluse.

In court they stuck together like glue and assumed joint responsibility - although Sandy said she'd master-minded the coup, as 'revenge on society.' Lydie said they had been 'hand-in-hand.'

The court decided to give them five years each; with two suspended. But they may be out in no time at all - on account of time already spent in 'preventive detention.'

Le Bug 2000

While France considers itself to be prepared to pass into the coming millennium without great problems caused by the so-called 'Bug 2000' - I'll just forget the report I heard on France-Info radio news about the lack of readiness by small and medium firms - the US and British governments have issued warnings about passing the New Year in Russia.

Apparently countries with little digital infrastructure are not great risks. Somebody funny says there is more worry about vodka in Russia than about Russia's satellites - although the Americans are reported to have signed an aid agreement 'in case of' concerning military satellites.

None of this explains Le Parisien's headline for the report, which says 'Avoid Italy.' It must be a typo.

Le Menu 2000

If 3500 French chefs have anything to do with it, we are not going to be eating test-tube bean-sprouts or spacy-tube fake-food when the third millennium rolls around. The chefs insist that foie gras will still be the number-one starter.

Whether 'fresh,' pan-fried, baked in a tureen, or with truffles; foie gras prevails. Don't even bother printing all the magazines with new ultra-light diets, because for the main dish the chefs say pot-au-feu will endure - unless it is in the south-west, where sturdy cassoulet will remain king.

For desert, the tarte Tatin is the number-one choice. Despite these omens, chefs also predict that time allowed for eating will be shorter - so stomachs are going to have to adjust to the onslaught of these heavy-duty dishes.

Sports News:

Sleazy Pool Halls

These don't exist in Paris, in principle. Instead the capitol has billiard palaces - or did have, until slot machines proved more lucrative.

The sign for the Académie de Billard de Paris is still in place in the Avenue de Wagram, but the 100 members of the club have been tossed out.

The casino operator sent the club members a letter inviting them to move to the Académie de Billiard Murat, which in turn closed its doors three months later.

While a sulk goes on between the owners of the property - the townphoto: traffic in rue royale of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre inherited it - and the operators of the casino, Paris is without any billiard hall capable of holding national or international tournaments or championship matches.

The day after carless Wednesday, in the Rue Royale.

The Académie de Billard de Paris was famous for its top-notch players, such as world champion Roger Conti, and for the quality of its hall, with its height of 10-metres and its mezzanine balcony for spectators.

The club members are talking to the Ville de Paris, because most of the 700 billiard halls associated with the national federation in France are owned by municipalities.

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