...Continued from page 1

Besides the barracks-effect of the obscurely-lit and modest office, I didn't think it was particularly poorly-located - unless you went out of the station's main exits and missed it entirely.

If you can find your way out of a train station, cheese awaits you in Paris.

So it is with stupor that I read that the SNCF has simply vanished all branches of the Paris Tourist Office that were once located in Paris train stations. This partly explains why readers write to ask me how to get from Gare du Nord to places in the city.

Now that the Gare du Nord has more or less completed its tedious renovations, the SNCF has offered the Paris Tourist Office a place two floors underground, in a commercial area, for commercial rents.

Four years ago, the SNCF paid the Paris Tourist Office for providing its information service to travellers. Now it's treating the PTO as just another sandwich peddler.

Negotiations are underway between the SNCF and the PTO, because they both realize that they have some common objectives. But since the SNCF has already renovated its stations in Paris without thought for prominent visitor information locations, there won't be any overnight solutions.

Strike(s) of the Week

As much as I looked, I could not find any mention of strikes for the coming week. However, neither could I find any 'news' stating that any of the museum or transport strikes have been settled. I assume then, that May's 'bridges' have temporarily cooled things off.

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 now subtract the first two because one's over and the other is nearly over, and leave in the new one.

Still to come in May is the 'bridge' of Friday, 25. May. New 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.

The holiday of Ascension on Thursday, 24. May - gives the month one remaining four-day weekend. There is only one complete five-day week in this month.

Internet Life In France

According to local radio, TV, newspapers and magazines, this 'life' has been going on for about two years. For some of us, 'Internet Life' is in its 7th or 8th year.

Back then, in 1995, I got a tip about the 'Online Europe' newsletter. This was put out by Steve Carlson in Budapest and its purpose was to act as a focal point for Internet activities in the area of Europe that used to be behind the disappeared and unlamented 'Iron Curtain.'

'Steve from Budapest,' as I call him, had taken on a formidable job - in an area much bigger than Texas but far less modern than Mexico - which he is still doing, even though the name has changed to nowEurope. Basically, if you want to do online anything in eastern Europe, Steve's newsletter is the place to start.

Steve is also involved in another deal, called First Tuesday, which is about start-ups.

Akkk! - let me outa here now! - you might say. Fair enough - but while IPO dream bubbles have been burstingphoto: omelette, steve carlson and flaming wreckage has been falling out of the sky, 'First Tuesday' has continued to build itself up into a co-op of 'Net people, linking some 120 'First Tuesday' city units worldwide.

Yesterday, for the first time in my life I met 'Steve from Budapest' - who is in Paris for the first time in his life. We checked out the Tour Eiffel's 'count-down' display together, but decided the weather was too gloomy to go up it for a 'tour of the horizon.'

Steve enjoys the first omelette in Paris in his life, while ignoring a snoopy camera.

Anybody who has read Steve's newsletter over the years will know that he would be a very-famous-person if he didn't live in the Buda part of Budapest, but he does. Otherwise he just an ordinary 'Joe' from California who happens to look a bit like a Turkish taxi driver from Hamburg.

The way I see it, somebody has to bring eastern Europe online - and Africa too! - and since Steve has been doing a good job so far, he's the guy who is going do it with the networks he's helped to build. If you want to find out more, hit both of the URLs above.

Meanwhile, At the Movies

Movie people and movie fans get ready for the film festival in Cannes for nearly a whole year, but year after year it manages to surprise me by flinging up its posters all over Paris - mostly underground in the métro - about two minutes before it starts. I suppose it's a good thing I only like to watch good movies, rather than be a fan of them.

Freedom of the Press

'Reporters Sans Frontières' is not exactly like the doctors. On the other hand both keep going to the world's troubled spots. I think the doctors arrange to get invited, but the reporters are often invited to stay home.

Those that don't accept come home in a box sometimes. This is thought to be a violation of 'Freedom of the Press' - which is not universal. 'Reporters Sans Frontières' tells you about it in French, English and Spanish.

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.

Also expected in June is the brand-new TGV 'Mediterranée' which will shift you from Paris' Gare de Lyon to the Riviera in a record swoosh of time. New tracks, new trains, city-to-city, and fares to compete with dirty old airplanes.

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 - 87.3% Crummy

Since I - still! - can't say anything nice, I have little to say. According to informal sources, highs in Paris mayphoto: tour, rue st dominique be from 13, to 20 degrees near the end of the week. These 'highs' have nothing to do with clear skies though.

One good thing about the 7th arrondissement - are its free views of the Tour Eiffel.

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. Officially, Météo France is not responsible for the weather either.

This said, Météo France is hoping to have ultra-shortrange predictions available online by this coming summer. Frankly I'm not sure I care about this anymore, because the shortrange outlook is dismal. Longrange, I'd like Météo France to tell me there will actually be a summer.

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