'Gotcha' of the Week Arrives

photo: bistro le lutetia, ile st louis

A bistro on the Ile Saint-Louis, facing the Hôtel de Ville.

'Winners' of the Week Arrive Too

Paris:- Sunday, 11. February 2001:- Alfred Sivren, making a surprise touch-down in Frankfurt, only had time to say 'no thanks' to a German parliamentary investigation commission, before taking a French government jet to Paris - where he was whisked straight off to see some judges who have been anxiously waiting to see him for four years.

The 74 year-old traveller, who had spent four days getting from Manilla to France, was a bit pooped on arrival. All the same, the three principal judges saw him on Tuesday night, and informed him of the charges he is facing.

One of these is a catch-all grab-bag called 'Elf,' and the others include the usual doublet of 'Abus de Biens Sociaux' and 'Recel d'Abus de Biens Sociaux,' plus attempted fraud and selling frigates to Taiwan. He also risks having one of the 'Abus' elevatedphoto: valentine window, samaritaine to 'aggravé,' which carries a minimum of ten years in the clink upon conviction.

Not many shopping days left before Valentines.

The dossiers surrounding these charges are contained in two hundred volumes. Because his lawyers are as surprised as the judges by his arrival in France, the current trail involving a part of the 'Elf' iceberg has had to be suspended for a month, so everybody can get up to speed with this new defendant.

In Wednesday's newspaper editions, there was speculation concerning what course Mr. Sivren might take - because everybody seems to think he knows everything - enough to 'blow up the Republic' as some headlines have put it.

Apparently he has several courses open to him - complete confession, complete denial, accuse everybody else, or say he was merely taking orders, as the number two at Elf, the giant oil company.

Then, surprise of surprises, Le Parisien published what it said was Mr. Sivren's address book - first on its Web site on Tuesday evening - and in its editions on Wednesday.

Le Parisien says it did not buy the document nor did it steal it - it says the original Hermés address book came from Manilla and was in the hands of the French judges.

Judging from Le Parisien's photos, it is has published photocopied pages of an address book which it calls a 'véritable document' - with '200 names!' - but it may be a complete fake.

The case now rests until part three begins in about a month. Meanwhile, Mr. Sivren is comfortably lodged in the VIP wing of the Santé, when he isn't having conversations with investigating judges.

Even though bail does not exist in France, Alfred Sivren is not getting any.

Franceland Corp.

At the state's tourism headquarters, Champagne was splashed around freely late in the week as the score for 2000 was toted up - to reveal that France had beaten the world again for sheer numbers of visitors.

Yes folks, you were 75 million of you - you spent 215 billion francs - but you only stayed an average of 5.5 days - or nights - which was quite a bit less than the average visitorphoto: peugeot andreau 1936 stays in Spain, Italy or the United States.

Actually, France is only in third place at the box office where the cash is counted. Also, the French, who are not generally thought to holiday outside of France at all - did so, and spent 100 billion francs on their travels.

When France made spacy cars, they made ones like this 1936 Peugeot 'Andreau.'

World tourism in general increased by 7.4 percent last year, and several countries had increases a lot greater than France's plus of three percent.

The Ile-de-France saw visitors increase from 36 million in 1999 to 40 million last year, which was a larger percentage rise than for the country as a whole. Because of the slowdown in the US economy and its ripple-effect, big increases are not expected this year.

'Strike of the Week' That Wasn't

Many people have the false impression that everybody in France goes on strike at least once a week, and for especially important anniversaries, there are even 'total' strikes of the week.

To demonstrate how far from reality this notion is, last Thursday's public transport strike in Paris managed to demobilize no more than two percent of transport workers - according to the RATP - and affected only métro lines 9, 10 and 11 plus the RER 'B' line. Many passengers were unaware of the strike.

Apparently the strike was organized by a minority CGT/métro-RER section of the CGT union, on account of missing out on the previous week's 'total' strike, which was a success due to the massive de-mob by the 'Autonomes' and the CGT.

Sports News

Winners of the Week

While the following story gets the biggest headlines in Le Parisien's editions, the single-handed round-the world non-stop sailboat race called the 'Vendée Globe' was successfully won Saturday evening by Michel Desjoyeaux, when hephoto: alfa disco volante 1962 sailed into the Sables-d'Olonne after 93 days at sea - smashing the previous record time.

When Italy made spacy cars, they got spacy names like 'Disco Volante.'

A huge crowd was waiting for him and it went properly berserk with the joy of it all, with cloudbursts of fireworks, liberal splashes of Champagne, and a very big coverage by the media.

Then the whole berserk scene was repeated just over 25 hours later when 24 year-old Ellen MacArthur sailed into the same harbor - already a big media star in France due to her excellent French - to be greeted by hordes from the media in Britain, who had been a bit tardy to get in on the story.

For a time on the return leg, MacArthur managed to get ahead of Desjoyeaux, but mainly she followed close behind him, and well ahead of the other competitors.

'Losers of the Week'

Paris' football club, which is called Paris-Saint-Germain - or PSG - is seldom mentioned in this column because it has a very big budget for paying very large salaries tophoto: resto vieux paris managers, trainers and football players, but also has a tendency to lose games.

It might, if it had the opposite tendency, be ignored here too - simply for having too many resources. But, since it looses, it is simply embarrassing.

This is not to say the club has been without some 'ups,' but on Saturday night it managed to descend so deep into a pit that after losing to Auxerre 4-0, its fans stormed out to its headquarters at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and attacked it in rage and shame.

On the Ile de la Cité, the Vieux Paris bistro quietly awaits your visit.

The defeat happened in PSG's home stadium at the Parc des Princes, where PSG was also trashed by Guingamp on Wednesday night. This year's flop of a season for PSG is second only to its previous disaster in 1971-72, when it lost nearly half of all the games it played.

The fans want to know, '600 million francs for what?'

Winter Sports News

As of today, 'winter' is 53 days old and it is still going on in some parts of France. It may be a bit tired and even more slushy, but if you are interested in the state of snow at French winter sports stations, try hitting the Hiver, SkiFrance and Net4Ski Web sites.

The ex-ski champion Edgar Grospiron has an exceptional site, called Ridearth. Especially conceived for actual fans or practitioners of speedy downhills, it features all sorts of current white snow activities, including morsels of techno-ski music.

Web Life: This Week, '404'

Your Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankyou' here.

The 'Official' Weather: 100% 'Winter'

Météo France 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 here sometimes goes out on a limb with imaginative seven-day forecasts.

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini