...Continued from page 1

This reflects a fundamental problem with France itself, which has abundant mountains and many places for sunshine-type seaside holidays. Neitherphoto: cafe, val de loire, apt building one nor the other has been gifted with enough suitable weather for year-round operation.

Actually, this spreads the touristic business around fairly evenly - from one extreme to another - and the people who should really complain are those in the middle with neither snow on high nor sun on the beach.

These poor souls are probably cattle ranchers, who have tried to promote farm holidays - only to be stabbed in the back by all the French who are now refusing to eat beef.

If you don't know what this is about, and love the idea of cold, snow and extreme heights, France has 372 winter sports stations and their season has just officially begun.

Brainless Non-News

On Friday, Sony sold half a million Playstation Two game consoles in 17 European countries and collected billions of francs and other currencies for its efforts. New stocks should be available in about 10 days in case you missed out.

Sports News

Last week's only 'Sports News' was a boring ballot-count competition in Florida, and it seems as if the game managed to come to a provisional end with a winner being declared without a final score. Anybody who placed bets on this match couldn't have expected this result, which will be the equivalent of the ball landing on the 'zero' in roulette. When the house takes it all, the players will mope.

Web Life:

URLs: You Can Help

The answer is now clear why nobody has been bombarding this section of 'Au Bistro' with their favorite Web URLs for Paris.

By accident - by getting no results - I have found it impossible to find certain kinds of information because of the plague of 'Dot.Coms' that have bought their way to the top positions on the search engines - thus leaving the Web sites with actual information in positions from 25 to 50, if they are listed at all.

Although this situation is an annoyance, I believe it is a temporary one. 'Dot.Coms' are going bust faster than they are being created these days. But while they are around, they continue to focus their tunnel-vision on their hopeless B-Plans.

Doing this leaves a widening 'hole in the market' for information - which they ignore - both the 'hole' and information itself. Thanks to questions posed by readers, I am getting all sorts of ideas for 'hole-pluggers.'

It's only a matter of time until I can get these filled with all sorts of useful information. But I better do it soon because Metropole's 'Dot' is a lot bigger than its 'Com.'

Other than this bit of mild philosophy, I have come across only one useful Paris URL during the past week.

Online Purchasing In France

Le Parisien has chosen to ignore its other horror stories about plastic card fraud this week in Friday's edition, to tell its readers how to buy stuff online with plastic and without excessive amounts of fear.

So far, only about five percent of the French who are online have ever bought anything online. Useful and hard consumer information is not easy to come by in France, but the Unionphoto: le president, chinese resto, belleville Fédérale des Consommateurs and its magazine 'Que Choisir?' has just gone online with some useful tips for potential consumers.

I didn't know this, but about 650 French 'Dot.Coms' have insured themselves - or their customers rather - up to the tune of 50,000 francs in case of online fraud. In all there are three of these insurance firms.

After being reassured, you might want to shop around a bit for some French goodies. To compare prices, try Le Guide, which also has some legal advice in addition to its consumer tips for timid types.

Mindless Repeat - the 'Mois de la Photo' Again

Photo Gallery is worth a look according to regular long-time reader Dana Shaw. Visuel Image is said to be especially rich. Enough words; just for looking. As a last shot, check out ArtCom's take on the Maison Européenne de la Photographie - which is mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

The 'Official' Weather: Gloomy Becomes 'Winter'

Météo France is still featured because many people find Paris weather news exciting. From enough distance, it probably is. This is the official source for France's TV-weather people, who have just changed their 'look' but not their forecasts. 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.

All photos; Rue de Belleville, Friday 24. November.
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