Incredible Weather Bombs Picnic

photo: bistro salthy's, penticton

A Canadian bistro - style 'rustico typico.'

The Métro's 100th Birthday

Paris:- Sunday, 16. July 2000:- On Friday everything was ready for four million to take part in L'Incroyable Pique-Nique. Everything was ready except the weather - which was miserable.

In Paris, beginning at 13:00 the picnic started - with more success in narrow streets like the Rue de Seine than on wide avenues such as the Avenue de l'Opéra.

The Paris Prefecture estimated that only 3000 Parisians braved the elements for the outdoor eat-fest, while 20,000 filled the Luxembourg Gardens, where a pop concert began at 16:00.

Elsewhere in France, there were blizzards or it was weather strictly for ducks. In Cantal, two out of 21 villages had to annul their picnics.

Radio France-Info also said that many French did not understand the idea of a picnic, and arrived without bringing any food. In some areas, merchants who had anticipated good business had to cart their wares home again because of the lack of picnickers.

The opening of the observation deck at Orly airport was a bigphoto: picnic, rue de seine success because the weather was a little better there - with actual sunshine! - and it was the public's first access to the terrace overlooking the airport's runways in a very long time.

'L'Incroyable Pique-Nique,' winding down in the Rue de Seine.

The Sénat invited 14,000 mayors and their spouses from all over France, and tour buses clogged the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the Boulevard Montparnasse near Port-Royal.

For a fête I almost slept through, there was a lot going on. The whole basin area of the Luxembourg was full of spectators for the concert, and among these were many tired-looking mayors.

Most seemed to agree that the picnic idea was a good one though, and some began planning for cross-France picnics, or for a picnic next Bastille Day. If the weather ever gets good enough for one, it'll probably draw everybody who isn't watching the Tour de France.

Wednesday Birthday for Métro

The métro's first line opened for business on Thursday, 19. July 1900 with one line, running from Porte Maillot to the Porte de Vincennes - which is today's line one.

Opened to serve 1900's Universal Exposition, the first line was built in 18 months. In 1897 six lines were planned with a total distance of 65 kilometres, but in the end only the line one was rushed to completion for the historic year.

Nothing stopped the métro's expansion once it was started. Not the electrical accident atphoto: drums, crowd at buci Couronnes in 1903, which saw 84 killed by carbon monoxide, nor the big flood on 1910 which filled the underground stations. By WWI, ten lines were in operation.

After the picnic, the noisy drums - at Buci in the Quartier Latin.

During WWII the métro proved its worth by having 55 stations deep enough to use as bomb shelters. During the French army's mobilization, the trains ran for 24 hours a day for 12 days. Later, the Nazis used the Place de Fêtes station as an aircraft parts factory.

After the war, in 1945, the métro had its record number of passengers; carrying 1.5 billion. The RATP came into being on 1. January 1949. Today, including multiple trips, the métro carries an average of 4.2 million persons a day. In rush hours, 570 trains are circulating.

The crosstown line one, with its showcase walk-through trains, actually makes fewer round trips than the north-south line four; which makes 424 daily. Métro trains start running at 05:30 and continue until about 00:30.

The Sedov Is Liberated

The four-masted Russian sailing ship Sedov, the world's largest, on a visit to participate in the Brest 2000 marine show, was seized by a commercial court on Friday and nailed to the quayside.

The Sedov is owned by the Technical University of Murmansk. A Swiss import-export firm called Noga hadphoto: entry to senat, luxembourg the ship seized for non-payment of a 1.4 billion dollar debt it says is owed to it by the Russian government. A French high court decided the ship belongs to the Russian state.

On Saturday the court released the ship, allowing it to take part in the Brest 2000 marine fête; but under strict French navy control. The organizers of Brest 2000 are trying to figure out who to sue over losing the attraction of the Sedov's sailing rights for two days.

After the 14,000 mayors, the Sénat cleans up. Note weak sunshine.

The Sedov carries 117 naval cadets, some as young as 13, and their moms were worried. On Sunday, Finistère peasants supplied a load of fresh agricultural products to the ship, which were delivered by an old cargo sailer.

Paris' New Big Spenders

According to the Paris Tourist Office, Chinese and Russian visitors have taken top honors as big spenders this summer in Paris. But helped by a strong dollar, Americans are reported to be spending more.

Americans also top visitor numbers with 1.9 million, followed by the Italians and the British with a million each. Russians are expected to number 165,000 and Chinese nationals will probably exceed 400,000.

Counting shopping and restaurants but not lodging, the Chinese are estimated to be spending 800 francs per day. This is not hard to understand as the summer sales are still going strong.

Roller Rando Canceled

I don't know if it was for the first time, but Friday night's traditional roller rando was called off when police authorities decided the roads were too slippery for safety.

The Paris-Roller organizers, withdrew their support after the Prefecture offered four unacceptable routes through Paris. Several groups set off for a 'wild' run, without the protection of the habitual police escort and the roller cops.

Internet SuperCafé Planned

A British zillionaire plans to open a monster cybercafé in Paris on or near the Boulevard Sébastopol between now and December. It will have 450 Internet-access stations and be open 24 hours a day.

Already in operation with similar centres in London, Amsterdam and Barcelona, the 'easyEverything' chain expects to have rates as low as ten francs for the time period between 02:00 and 09:00 in the mornings. The ten francs is for six hours of connection; not 'per hour.'

The French operator Vivendi has a similar boutique in the Avenue Hoche, where crowds now wait in line for 15 minutes of free access.

Cybercafés started off with a bit of a wave some years ago, but most of the apparent ones have disappeared. Bigger operators such as France Télécom and Vivendi have stepped into the gap as the 'cyber' mentality has given way to the 'Dot.Com' crowd.

The Briton, who owns the discount airline EasyJet, says he is going to open four of these super Internet cafés in Paris within a year. He expects competition, and vows to only charge for the café if necessary. Free café and 30 francs an hour for access I could stand.

Summer Sales Continue

The summer sales began in Paris on Tuesday, 27. June and continue to early August. The best bargains on the best stuff are long gone, but for routine items you can still make significant savings.

'Bargains' means this year's summer fashions that haven't already been snapped up. Discounts willphoto: senat concert, 14 july range from 20 to 50 percent off regular prices. By law, sale prices have to be shown together with the original retail prices.

A tiny fraction of the estimated 20,000-strong crowd of spectators for the concert in the Luxembourg.

Also by law, only items that were in stock at the beginning of the 'sales' are allowed to be sold. This doesn't prevent shops from stocking up in anticipation, but is to ensure that more and lesser-quality goods are not put on the shelves while the sales are on.

'No exchanges, no refunds' are the rule, us usual. But don't forget to enquire about sales-tax refunds if you are taking goods out of Europe.

Web Life In France:

Summer Festivals

Take a look at the Ministry of Culture's Web site for the section "Organismes" and then look for the Festivals category, and you should find nearly 1000 events on this summer throughout France. These are classified by regions, themes or key-words and the information is updated weekly with addresses and telephone numbers. There are also some links to additional information.

Paris' Peace Wall, Forever

This still leaves the URL for Paris' Peace Wall which I imagine is still on the Champ de Mars. If so, this 'Mur Pour la Paix' is worthwhile because 'Peace' lives on! You can also learn how to read the word 'peace' in 31 languages, including German Swiss.

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