A New Count-Down?

photo: bistro de l'embarcadere, st honore

An elderly bistro in the Rue Saint-Honoré.

And Other Important News

Paris:- Monday, 30. April 2001:- It seems as if Laurent Fabius, the Minister of Finance, might be a reader of the Café page's 'count-up' feature.

At any rate, the idea of reactivating the Tour Eiffel's '2000' count-down display has been attributed to him - to symbolize the time remaining until we abandon good old FF's for the new hard-currency 'euros.'

This has come as a surprise to the society that runs the tower, which has been in the process ofphoto: chez max, 47 r st honore dismantling the old count-down sign for the past month.

This is an otto 12 metres high and 33 metres wide, with 1340 light bulbs tied together with 4000 metres of cables. The whole thing weighs 50 tons. It originally took seven months to install.

With only a door's width on the street, 'Chez Max' is upstairs at 47. Rue Saint-Honoré.

The 2000 sparkling lights are having their problems too. Originally designed to sparkle every two seconds for the first ten minutes of the hour, their system was only designed to last a year. Now in the fourth month of overtime, the sparkle frequency has been reduced to once every four seconds.

A final decision has not been made but one can assume the Minister of Finance knows where to find some extra money. For the information of 'count-up' or 'count-down' fans, there are 245 days left until 2002.

Strike(s) of the Week

Strikes at national museums such as the Louvre, Orsay and the newly reopened Musée Guimet are continuing on a day-to-day basis. In this situation it is impossible to predict whether the museums will be open or not, or if open, whether there will be an entry charge or not.

This uncertainty is keeping big crowds away from some museums, but those who show up are happy not to have to stand in line to pay for an entry ticket. For some unknown reason, Le Parisien claims that all museums will be open and with free entry this coming Thursday.

So far this week, there is no information about public transport in Paris. Last week métro traffic was disturbed on Wednesday and there was an alert for Saturday. Check the RATP's Web site for current conditions, especially for the RER line 'B' if you are arriving or departing from Roissy.

May's 'Bridges' Revisited

Last week I mentioned all the long weekends there are in May - but overlooked one right at the beginning of June. So I subtract the first one because it's nearly over, and addphoto: bistrot, r bertin poiree the new one.

Still to come in May are the 'bridges' of Monday, 7. May and Friday, 25. of May. New this week is the public holiday on Monday, 4. June, the day after Pentecôte, which is not a 'bridge' but is a three-day weekend all the same.

I pass this 'bistrot' on the way to the 'club' most Thursdays.

The earlier 'bridges' - Tuesday, 8. May - 'Victory In Europe Day,' and the holiday of Ascension on Thursday, 24. May - give the month two remaining four-day weekends. There is only one complete five-day week in this month.

Internet Life In France

Both readers and other sources have sent in some new Web site URLs during the week. The 'other sources' score is zero. This is 'zero' for either crashing the browser - and I use the heavy-duty one for these look-sees - or 'zero' for general presentation. I won't recommend any Web site that has type too small to read.

Alan Pavlik likes Radio France International - or RFI for short - for a quick review of the French national news. He wrote that you should chose 'anglais' and the 'Internet Press Review.' He also liked In Paris Today for its news. One grateful 'thankYou' goes to Mr. Pavlik.

For Camera Fans

A photographer once told me never to go to the annual Foire à la Photo de Bièvres with any sort of plastic card. Its 38th edition is coming up, on Sunday, 3. June, starting at 9:00 and continuing until 18:00.

This will be at the Place de la Mairie in Bièvres, which can be reached with the RER 'C' from the Gare d'Austerlitz. There is supposed to be a train every hour. By car, leaving from the Porte de Chatillon, take the RN 309 straight ahead about nine kilometres. In Bièvres, look for the parking lot and a shuttle-bus to the Place de la Mairie.

The Web site also warns visitors to bring umbrellas because Bièvres is not anywhere near the Sahara. Another warning is to use public transport. A final warning concerns the fact that there will be lots of people with lots of photographic items for sale.

Besides hardware, there will also be a considerable amount of collectible photos on exhibition, for sale, both to private buyers and from and to professionals.

Les Flics Online

If you happen to be online when burglars decide to break down your bank-vault of a door, quickly set your URL selectorphoto: rue des lombards to the Préfecture de Police, hit the map for your local commissariat, and fire off an email about your impending situation.

In the Rue des Lombards, once a street of Italian bankers.

But if your situation is not quite so grave, the Préfecture's Web site can also be used to learn more about the police and its structure in Paris, plus it provides all sorts of useful information about wonderful stuff like getting a Carte d'Identité, or names of the head Commissaires in each arrondissement. In principle, you can also denounce your neighbors who persist on parking on the sidewalk.

Voyeurism.Fr

The above is not a real URL. A new TV show, which kicked off on M6 on Thursday, is also being broadcast over cable and it is supposed to be viewable on the Web as well at its show-name of Loft Story on the Web. Early reports say the site's servers are not quite up to the demand.

Here's the background - six young men and five young ladies are locked up in a 225 square-metre apartment along with 26 video cameras and 50 microphones, all hidden. According to Le Parisien, the term for this in the United States is 'trash-TV.'

The TV version is only broadcast for a fixed time period, but the cable version is broadcast 24 hours a day. The first 'episode' drew a record audience for M6, which has a usual fare of horror and ordinary 2nd-rate science-fiction telefilms.

Some scenes are available free on the Web, some require registering, and for a few well-placed Webcams there is pay-for-peek system.

All Books - Fr. - Again

What Amazon or Barnes & Noble are to the United States, Chapitre.com 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 Buecher.de. The firm also proposes French language revues and magazines.

Three Clicks for the TGV

The SNCF has spiffed up their travel-booking Web site by reducing the depth of windows from eight to three, making its bookings available in theory in three clicks. Expected in June will be the possibility of reserving a car and hotel rooms.

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 - 89.6% 'Rain'

Since I can't say anything nice, I have little to say. According to informal sources, highs may be from 15 to 18 degrees. Tomorrow's May Day may be havephoto: arches, rue des innocents the highest, afterwards it's downhill.

For real forecasts, take a look at the Météo France Web site. It's predictions are usually fairly shortrange because Météo France doesn't like being known for bad guesses.

Along the Rue des Innocents, looking through to Rue Sainte-Opportune.

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 cocktails in the Luxembourg gardens in the afternoon.

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