...Continued from page 1

I don't know if winter sportsters get any discounts for this. If they are satisfied with it, I suggest Meudon or Sèvres be sprayed with fake snow because these are hilly too and within short SNCF rides.

On the Alps themselves, all is not rosy. For one thing they are too close to the Mediterranean. This warm sea often gets touches of warm winds from Africa which it transmits to the Alps, causing the snow to melt.

Then another weather system, a bit more winter-like, drops fresh snow on top of the cruddy melted layer. While all winter sportlers rejoice with the new layer, terrible danger lurks underneath - ready to launch an avalanche at any time.

Then the mountain professionals declare practically everywhere to be 'hors piste' and they scoot around dynamiting suspect snow so that the sportlers won't be buried under tons of it.

This requires a lot of reporting by TV-news and you can watch it a long time before it actually shows anybody skiing or snow-boarding or sliding down snowy hills on plastic garbage-can lids.

As of today, 'winter' is 18 days old. If you are interested in the state of French winter sports stations, try hitting the Hiver, SkiFrance and Net4Ski Web sites.

The Other Sporting Events

Two of these are real, and one is simply a huge TV commercial. Only one has any relation to Paris, and this is the Paris-Dakar Rallye which left Paris a week ago and is now racing around in south Morocco.

This real event, which still features some relative amateurs as competitors, does not get the extensive media coverage itphoto: cake shop window deserves and used to get. Riding a motorcycle in the desert for days on end seems to be more of a personal experience than one that generates great video clips - unless there's a bad accident.

Cake-shop window reflects buildings on the Rue de Rivoli.

The other event, almost in the same category, is the 'round-the-world' single-handed non-stop sailboat race called the 'Vendée Globe.' The leaders in this race are somewhere close to Antarctica. Currently in second place, 24 year-old Helen MacArthur from Britain is dodging icebergs, and even if she eventually finishes last, she will be the race's hero.

'Hype' should be the name of the fourth event, which is actually called 'The Race.' Compared to the Paris-Dakar or the Vendée Globe, this event is all commercial, all big sponsors and all big bucks - with flexible rules that favor the backers - every one, a winner! - which are mainly telecom and video game conglomos.

Nightly non-news from this event is extensive because the huge boats involved are really floating telecoms platforms, designed to beam everything except sport into the world's TV sets and on to the Internet. When this is on, I wash my dishes.

Web Life:

URLs: You Can Help Department

With 'Au Bistro' temporarily in suspension, Dana Shaw's tips for Paris Web sites were put on the shelf and I have just dug them out again.

Besides Metropole's host, WFI, Dana favors Paris' own site for museum news and Norman Barth's everlasting The Paris Pages for its sheer wealth of info.

It was featured here before, but Dana still likes Montmartre's own Paris 18 Net, whichphoto: motorcycles, champs elysees I do not think is duplicated in other arrondissements. This is also where the upcoming battle for control of Paris' city hall may be decided, so watch this one for its local angle.

Paris motorcyclists think they have their own reserved lanes on the Champs-Elysées;

Dana also proposed SmartWeb and Suite 101, which seemed to be a fairly general portal to me. Another one in this line is the imaginatively named Paris France Guide.

Café Metropole Club member Don Smith's VisitParis is on Dana's list too and should have been featured here before now. Finally, for various Paris views throughout the day, Dana likes the TV station TF1's Web site.

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. Meanwhile, this week's ThankYou goes to Dana Shaw in warm Florida.

Buyer Beware

The Union Fédérale des Consommateurs and its magazine 'Que Choisir?' is now online with some useful tips for potential consumers. You may also 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.

The 'Official' Weather: 100% 'Winter'

Météo France is featured yet again because many people find Paris weather news curiously fascinating. 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 even though TV sometimes goes out on a limb with seven-day forecasts.

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