Fuel Crises Hits Paris

photo: empty quai du louvre

Less traffic on the Quai du Louvre than on the
same day in 1943.

And Short 'Report' of the 49th Club Meeting

FlashNews:- Paris, Thursday, 7. September 2000:- The deals announced yesterday to stem France's mounting fuel crises fell apart last night. Truckers and some farmers continued their blockade of 100 to 110 refineries throughout the country.

In Paris, taxi drivers took part in a huge 'escargot-race' from the Roissy and Orly airports to converge on the Champs de Mars. This event has been announced as the biggest demonstration by Paris taxi drivers since 1914. Taxis drivers also held similar demonstrations in other major French cities.

Elsewhere in France, some airports were running out of airplane fuel and flights began to be canceled. When possible, some planes were refueling in Geneva.

On the money markets, the European currency continued to fall against the dollar. Trading at about 87 US cents for one 'euro' - on the crude oil market this translated into a price of about US $40 per barrel.

Eighty percent of gas stations outside the Ile-de-France were reported to be empty. In many areasphoto: linda reads gas news some gas stations were requisitioned so that supply to fire, ambulance and other emergency services could be maintained.

In a separate agreement, farmers won a reduction in the tax on fuel - but some joined the truckers on their road-blocks anyway.

Linda points out yesterday's crises news - which was better than today's.

Private drivers in border regions have increased sales of fuel at nearby gas stations in Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Spain by 300 percent.

Driving schools are putting their teachers on technical unemployment and rural schoolbuses are failing to pick up students.

The Eurotunnel between France and England was blocked by angry farmers. Although prices for diesel fuel in Britain are about 30 percent higher than in France, British trucking operators are fed up with the chaos in France, which they calculate affects them about 'once every two years.'

The French government, the employers' association and even the powerful CGT union are increasingly dismayed with the situation.

Ordinary drivers would also like to see the taxes on gas fall. Some of them can remember the last time that crude prices were under $10 a barrel, and taxes rose anyhow so there was little decrease in the retail price.

Meetings between all key parties will continue tonight, but the outcome of them is uncertain. The government thinks it has already made all the concessions possible.photo: club's waiters

Meanwhile, the petrol giant TotalFinaElf, yesterday announced increased profits for the first six months of this year. The figure was an astounding plus of 165 percent - which was about three times better than a year earlier.

Both of today's 'club waiters' watching no traffic outside.

Victims of last winter's Erika shipwreck and oil spill saw the results as 'surreal.' TotalFinaElf is also in the midst of restructuring and expects to lay off 1500 of its employees in France.

Meanwhile, At the Club

Paris:- Thursday, 7. September 2000:- I put off thinking about what I might write about today's club meeting by working on some schemes to make enough money to continue buying métro tickets.

Luckily the server-lady Linda Thalman shows up before I reach any drastic conclusions after noticing that my café costs exactly 3.66 euros - which may not be much in dollars but is a tiny fortune in francs.

Since we all know that Linda lives out at the Cadillac Ranch, there is no 'City of the Week' this week. In a surprise move, she orders a straight bottle of tonic, with a carafe of water on the side. "I'm thirsty," is the only excuse she gives.

No matter how silly your club in Paris may get, water is never going to be designated as the 'Drink of the Week' and "I'm thirsty" is not clever enough to become the 'Quote of the Week' no matter how true it may be.

The weather is pleasant and the cafe's doors are open. Linda has used public transport to get to the club today. She's afraid to drive her car because it uses gas when she runs it around. Parked, it keeps its full tank.

The odd thing is, not only are there no other club members or prospective ones for membership on hand today, the café La Corona has almost no other customers, inside or out on its terraces.

What is ever odder is that traffic on the normally bumper-to-bumper Quai du Louvre is practically non-existent. The day of the club's one and only 49thphoto: linda's drinks meeting is perfect for sitting on one of the two outside terraces!

This isn't a 'Thing of the Week,' this is a 'Miracle of the Century!' We agree it is so odd that I go out and take a photo of no traffic on the Quai du Louvre.

Linda's two H2O non-'Drinks of the Week.

Linda has to leave early so I have ten minutes to kill before the meeting is officially over. When I get through this non-period and go, there are still no trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles, bicyclists, scooters or roller people on the Quai du Louvre. The traffic police at the Pont Neuf are staring at the sky.

I skip the métro and go over to the Place du Châtelet and get on an empty 38 bus. It whizzes across the Ile de la Cité and zips up the Boulevard Saint-Michel - only stopping at traffic lights and to pick up a few passengers.

I wonder if this unusual aspect of today will be mentioned in tomorrow's newspapers. It might be the unique 'Day of the Least Traffic' in Paris.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

For more details about the Café Metropole Paris Club in Paris, please read 'About the Café Metropole Club,' whichphoto: empty coffee is about your club and is accessible here, and from each issue's 'home' page.

Easy come, fast to go - the $4.20 cup of café.

This 'about' page contains all the details of the free membership, the free members' card and the other free unofficial non-rules concerning the club and other free but needless information - none of which you really need to know. But look at this page anyway, unless you already know more than you want to.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

The date for the club's next meeting is Thursday, 14. September. Although this is the 'Croix Glorieuse' Day in Paris, the whole rest of the day remains free for other random activities.

The café La Corona meeting place will again be open like today - and the time for your club's meeting remains from 15:00 to 17:00 - which is also known as 3 pm to 5 pm. Come to the next meeting during its official hours - unless you get a better offer you can't refuse, to be elsewhere.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre, Paris 1.
Métro: Louvre-Rivoli or Pont-Neuf

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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