...Continued from page 1

Polls also predicted a low turn-out correctly, confirming my headline of last week - of a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, I want no credit for this.

On Saturday, before the vote, Le Parisien's page-two lead headline pronounced, 'Voters Have Chosen To Abstain.' After the vote, in an editorial Le Parisien blamed everybody but itself for the turnout fiasco.

Straw-Campaign

While a large number of prosecutors and judges are currently dealing with a morass of 'dirty' campaign funds' cases - one result of their efforts may have been reflected in the lack-lusterphoto: socialist poster political campaign for the referendum. 'Dirty' money may have disappeared.

By law, in France, political ads on TV are strictly controlled. For this referendum, their time-slot was in the five minutes preceding the commercials that precede the national TV-news each evening at 20:00.

I kept forgetting this and therefore managed to see no referendum advertising on TV at all. In any case, the ads ceased on Friday - to allow for the 48 hours before the balloting 'no-ads' rule.

But I am on the streets where the posters are. Each polling station has its own standardized set of poster panels, and these are set out near the polling stations - three weeks before an election.

France has a great many political parties, and each is supposed to get one panel-space. No billboards, no electric signs, no blimps flying overhead are allowed.

I think lowly party minions are charged with the posters' texts and graphics, because not one of them would ever be appointed Metropole's 'Poster of the Week.'

photo: madelin posterOn this page are six out of about ten posters I saw. I don't recall seeing any posters for the Communist party; and posters for far-left parties were almost all mutilated, as were a few of the far-right's posters.

'Les Verts' went a step beyond the referendum by suggesting the vote should be for a '6th Republic.' The hunters - no friends of 'Les Verts' - are against anything newer than the monarchy, and the recent rise in gas prices has its malcontents: "Tax on caviar, 5.5%: tax on gas, 235 %!"

Well yes, try seeing how well your car runs on a tankful of caviar, which probably costs more than 3000 francs a kilo.

'No Cars' Day' Flops In Paris

That I was largely unaware of 'no-cars' day on Friday in Paris does not mean that I am blind or that it was a total flop. Montmartre blocked its entries, more or less completely, and caused huge traffic jams all around itself.

Saturday's Le Parisien has a photo of the Rue de Rennes, showing a lone roller-skater in thephoto: chasseurs poster foreground, and a herd of buses at the next intersection. Apparently Paris semi-closed only four major streets.

In France, outside of Paris, 69 cities and towns took part in the Europe-wide 'no-cars' day, which involved 748 urban areas in all.

Halfway through the day, Marseille had to abandon its 'no-cars' day because its traffic jams increased to such proportions that it nearly strangled on them.

This may may have been partly on account of the deluge of monsoon-like rain and 200 kph gusts followed by massive flooding that turned Marseille into a sea of water and mud on Tuesday.

Web Life In France:

Flashy Kid's Stuff

Lots of graphics, lots of color; discoveries and some history, Clicksouris - meaning 'click-mouse' - features interactivity for kids and a chance to learn some French while having fun - and games. This Web site probably requires whatever is needed to see 'Flash' effects. If you haven't got it and your kids complain, you didn't read this here.

The Season of the Grape

If you are an active fan of the red, white and rosé juices, you can follow their seasonal progress from the vine to the part where the stout Italian ladies hold their skirts up high and stomp raisins into mush in giant vats.

Even if this pleasant idea is no more than a fiction, the Web site Wine Today watches over this throughout the northern hemisphere, but the link included here should give you the section focusing on France.

Present and Past Olympic Games

The Olympic Museum has the history in text, photos and video of the Olympics, plus all the latest developments - including, I suppose - ample presence of all the logos and stadium slogans that add so much to the visual aspects of the games.

In case you are wondering what the Olympics used to look like, the Olympic Television Archive Bureau has a Web site with old films, plus new films showing all the logos and stadium slogans in color.

The 'Official' Weather, One More Time

Météo France gets another run this week on account of delivering good weather last Thursday and Friday by surprise. This is the official source for France's TV-weather people. If you don't get French TV where you are, you can get the weather from where they get it. Because it is 'official' - meaning: as true as possible - don't expect forecasts to exceed 24 hours.

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