The Bridges of May

photo: bistro paradis du fruit

People ask - 'Are there veggie restauants?' Here's
the answer.

Henri Tops Elvis

Paris:- Monday, 23. April 2001:- May can be a beautiful month in Europe. The weather may be fine or it may even be lousy, but the month of May gives Europeans a free taste of pre-summer in the form of three possible 'bridges' - on Monday, 30. April, Monday, 7. May and Friday, 25. of May.

Each of these days, combined with Tuesday, 1. May - 'May Day' - Tuesday, 8. May - 'Victory In Europe Day,' and the holiday of Ascension on Thursday, 24. May - give the month three four-day weekends.

Attention - the first of these is next weekend and it is immediately followed, after a short three-day 'week,' by the next long weekend. There is only one complete five-day week this May.

Old Business Before New

The city of Paris' budget is the first order of business for the new mayor, Bertrand Delanoë and the newly elected city council, and this involves a bagatelle of 33 billion francs. A major part of this budget is a holdover from the previous city council so it is neither all of the old nor will it be much of the new.

'Les Verts' want the city's subsidy of 43 million francs for the Paris-Saint-Germain football club to be modified or eliminated - butphoto: waiting for metro this unlikely to happen because of previous agreements. The green party wants other things too, but this is probably not the budget to get them with.

Less than crowded for a métro rush-hour.

All parties have had civil security in their platforms. Mayor Delanoë had proposed that the city hire 500 cops, but tripped up on the rule in France that says these be civil servants - which means that 500 cops can't be simply recruited from the ranks of unemployed policemen - because there are none, because civil servants are never, in principle, unemployed.

However, a way around the problem would be to recruit 500 to simply watch over school entries. This would free regular police for other duties and also enable them to come to terms with the 35-hour week, which will effectively reduce police forces in Paris by 1000 officers.

This is a minor setback for the new mayor rather than a grand defeat. All of the right-wing parties in the city council are still squabbling with each other and do not seem close to putting forward a single leader of the opposition in the Hôtel de Ville.

Disappeared - 1300 Parisians

This is the number of people in the city who disappear each year. To find them, the Police Judiciare has a special unit of 35 officers who concentrate their work on finding the 'disappeared,' dead or alive.

Apparently, the investigations are made delicate because 'disappearing' is not a crime in itself. Some of the 'disappeared' are surprised to find the police looking for them. They cannot be made to 'undisappear' by law.

Of the 1300 'gone missing,' 60 percent are men and 40 percent are women. The special police unit usually locates about 95 percent of the 'disappeared.' For the remaining five percent, Interpol is alerted. In turn, Interpol asks Paris about its five percent 'disappeared' from Warsaw, Vienna or Zagreb.

If found, and desiring to stay lost, the police will inform relatives that the 'disappeared' are more alive than dead, but they will not divulge the location of the missing person against their wishes.

If there is no hard evidence, it is only seldom that foul play is suspected. In rare cases it is suspected.

Henri Tops Elvis

Tonight Henri Salvador tops the bill at Paris' famous Olympia music hall, where all of France's and many of the world's top stars have had top billing. If Elvis has played it, I wish somebody would tell me.

Henri started out as a guitarist and singer with the Ray Ventura orchestra in 1937. It wasn't until 1967 that he enjoyed his first 'hits,' which were 'Zorro est arrivé' and 'Le travail, c'est la santé.'

In 1973 he was discovered by TV and followed this triumph in 1987 at the Montreux Jazz Festivalphoto: guiment house, av rapp with Quincey Jones and Count Basie. His 1994 record, 'Monsieur Henri' was a semi-flop.

Henri is not a quitter though and his new record, 'Chambre avec vue,' released in 2000, has sold more than 600,000 copies. His present stint at the Olympia continues until next Saturday and he will wear a white suit like the one he wore with Ray Ventura.

A Hector Guimard building in the Avenue Rapp.

Asked if his 'return' to the stage was a 'game,' or a 'delight,' or 'for the money,' he said it was merely a coincidence. He was sent the song 'Jardin d'hiver' and it turned into a whole album, and now he's locked into touring until next March.

On Wednesday, 18. July 2001 Henri Salvador will be 84 years old, and if he looks like he did on TV tonight, he will still be going strong. Henri Salvador is booked to return to Châtelet for five appearances at the end of this year.

The Green Card Loto

For the past ten years the US government has officially been operating an annual lottery, which allows the winners a chance to get a 'green card,' the magic residence and work permit that allows foreigners to seek their fortunes in the United States.

This has also created something of a business in itself, involving 'experts,' lawyers, and now, even Web sites that are advertising on billboards set up near the Perifreak!

Last year, eight million played the lottery, and there were 55,000 winners. The 'experts' help applicants fill in the official forms and guarantee that they will be good enough to be accepted for the lottery. For this they charge 295 francs for singles and 465 francs for couples.

Americans are in on this two, with two companies in Los Angeles offering similar services for 50 or 60 dollars. A lawyer in Boston is only charging 35 dollars - proving I suppose, that competition is alive in America.

Playing the US government's lottery is free in itself. This is pointed out by the US embassy in Paris.

While some of the private 'services' are dubious, others claim they provide aid to fill in the forms correctly. Between a quarter and a third of all forms are rejected for one reasonphoto: sunday cafes, pl ed quinet or another.

Even if one 'wins' the lottery, a new and more complicated application - 'hypercompliqué' - must be made. Then there is a personal interview, and finally there is a charge of 500 dollars for the initial visa itself.

Few candidates here for the 'Green Card Loto.'

Despite all these hurdles - hardly like simply picking the right six numbers out of 49 - the Paris firm with the billboards is getting 400 callers a day. Last year it managed to register 3000 applications, and has had about 50 accepted so far.

Applications - the forms for which can obtained at the US embassy for free - will be accepted until the summer and this year's draw will be in October.

Strike(s) of the Week

In urban centres throughout France, with the exception of Paris, public transport became uncertain this morning as many transport workers continued their strikes in favor of 55 as the age of retirement.

In Paris, it could be the RATP's turn on Wednesday when two major unions call for a strike to back up demands for more employees, and rises salaries able to keep up with inflation.

On Wednesday, museums in Paris are also expected to be affected by personal demanding the effective introduction of the 35-hour work week. Ville de Paris museums are unlikely to be affected.

Internet Life In France

Between Café Metropole Club members such as Michelle Royston and readers such as Gary Jackson, I have been hearing about the cooking school at the Ritz.

It's official name is the Ritz-Escoffier Ecole de Gastronomie Française, which is a mouthful, but represents two sorts of courses. One is called the 'César Ritz course,' which I think is geared to shorter-term student-visitors, with its weekly rates.

The 'Ritz Eccoffier course' will probably be of more interest to food professionals. It has longer courses and rates beginning from a base of ten weeks. The above URL is for the English version and here is the URL for the version in French.

Since Gary, who attended a course at the Ritz, sent in these URLs, the week's 'thankYou' goes to him. He also sent an URL for a Guide to Pubs and Bars, but my browser was having a bad day or could not digest the 'Java.' It crashed, but not before I learned that Paris now has 'inexpensive places to drink' and some Happy Hours begin as early as 16:00.

I do not think this is a reference to the all-day 'Happy Hours' I occasionally see being celebrated 'al fresco' on the nearby avenue, but it might involve the same class of drinks.

All Books - Fr. - Again

What Amazon or Barnes & Noble are to the United States, is to France. Long one of the biggest players here, this online bookseller is thinking of testing offshore waters. While half of its business is with new titles, Chapitre thinks it has an edge when it comes to rare or out-of-print books. Chapitre sends out real people to poke through 115 real bookstores to look for rarities, and it finds them - for you. This company also has ties to Quebec and the German bookseller The firm also proposes French language revues and magazines.

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 - 9.3% 'Spring'

What was bad enough for Easter got worse last week. There must be a bottom to this weather-front pit we're in - but are we close to it?

Even if not, there are usually some sunny periods in a day. The trick is to be in the right place atphoto: pont debilly, seine the right time - even an outside café terrace can be comfortable enough if it is shielded from the wind.

Even with the Seine still high, spring is not far off.

Coming temperatures are predicted to be 'somewhat close' to average 'for this time of year,' which doesn't mean highs that will require any suntan lotion. For real forecasts, give the Météo France site a hit. Predictions are usually fairly shortrange because Météo France doesn't like being know for bad guesses.

This said, Météo France is hoping - don't we too! - to have ultra-shortrange predictions available online by this coming summer. These should be handy for checking the weather at breakfast, to be sure it will be sunny enough for a round of boules in the Luxembourg gardens in the afternoon.

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