...Continued from page 1

On the national holiday front, it means that part of the French don't go on holidays for the four weeks of July; to be replaced with the other half of the French who do the same thing for August's four weeks.

Instead, some people go from mid-July to mid-August, and the rest just go any old time that's handy. To kind of guide motorists on these migrations, 'Bison Futé' was invented in 1975 when traffic jams reached record 600-kilometre lengths.

The original idea of the roadway 'Indian guide' was to get the French out of the habit of all driving to or from their holidays on the same day.

Nothing was ever done about the habit of holiday rental operators - to be more flexible about the Saturday check-in and check-out times; these still apply.

'Bison Futé' is still in operation and it has 25 years'-worth of traffic statisticsphoto: metro abbesses to back up its predictions for heaviest-traffic days or periods of them. The French being the French, confound them, so today 'Bison Futé' is wrong half the time.

One way of doing this is to announce that, for example, Sunday, 27. August will be classed as a 'rouge' day for driving. Everybody who is still left on holidays will be packing up this weekend - to return to their 35-hour work weeks.

Light, shade, at the métro Abbesses beginning to Montmartre.

The clever French, hear or see this prediction on TV, and make their plans accordingly. Some really clever residents, set off right in the middle of the worst 'rouge' time, because they know most other drivers will be avoiding it - planning to turn 'orange' Saturday into an effective 'rouge' day.

Result: the predicted 'rouge' day and time become 'green' and the contrarians scoot home, only slowing down to throw money at the toll booths.

Warning: Funny Money

Starting on Saturday, 15. December 2001, ordinary people in Europe will be able to equip themselves with Euro coins and banknotes. On 1. January 2002 the Euro will become the common currency for all transactions.

For a long time - until today in fact - I thought the change-over was to be this coming January. This means the familiar franc won't be suppressed in France until February, 2002.

This is a joyous bonanza time for the boys in the fake money business. For the first time in the world's history, 200 million new banknotes will be thrown on the market in several - 12 in all - countries simultaneously.

Since consumers will have had only two weeks to get familiar with the look and feel of the new currency, the official introduction is also a one-time 'window of opportunity' for counterfeiters.

Experts think the first fakes will be in circulation on 1. January 2002, but they should be easily detectable 'artisanal' models.

Experts also think counterfeiters may have budgeted 30 to 50 million francs to produce fake Euros, for France alone. With the technology available, counterfeiters can make copies that will be acceptable to 90 percent of users. The biggest hurdle is making reasonable copies of the paper itself.

Another problem - with the perfectly good notes - will be that they are produced in different countries, ensuring that there will be slight differences in any case.

What is at stake is user confidence in the money. But since the date of introduction is fixed, both the good guys and the bad guys know when the crime is likely to take place - and they are making their appropriate arrangements.

Web Life In France:

If you are faced with TV-reruns because you happen to be sitting in front of your TV and it is turned on, you may be able to improve the situation by switching to your trusty computer and turning its dial to 'CanalWeb.'

However, your 'trusty' computer must have 'Real Player' orphoto: le chinon, rue abbesses 'Windows Media Player' installed in it somewhere. I'm pretty sure I've got one of these, but I know for certain that I have a very slow connection - so I didn't actually see anything myself - or wait long enough for something to happen.

More light and shade, on the Rue des Abbesses.

I wanted to tune into CanalWeb's 'Barrio Latino' channel to see - anything. If your connection is faster than mine - almost certain! - I'm sure you'll be interested in how Paris is turning itself into Habaña Oriente.

La Chaine Météo

To bring an umbrella, to bring a hat - this is the question and last week the answer was: bring both! Check out the 'La Chaine Météo' for French weather forecasts - up to six days in the future. If your trip is planned for six months in the future, don't worry. By then it will be winter and there will be no doubt about it..

The 'Official' Weather

Météo France is the official source for the TV-weather people and for other professionals who are concerned with the state of France's skies. If you don't get French TV where you are, you can get the weather from where they get it, before they put their version on TV. Because it is 'official,' don't expect forecasts to exceed 24 hours. Since they can't do anything about it, they don't talk about it much.

Summer Festivals - Almost Over

Take a look at the Ministry of Culture's Web site for the section "Organismes" and then look for the Festivals category, and should find nearly 1000 events on this summer throughout France. Festivals are better than TV; a lot better.

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