Big Fish Story

photo: bistro, bar de l'entracte

A quiet, village-like corner, very near the

The 'Right' To Party

Paris:- Monday, 4. June 2001:- I have been neglecting the 'news' a bit lately. There hasn't been any less news than usual and it hasn't been any less exciting than usual - 'news' is still happening in Paris and in France, somewhat like the weather.

This is what is wrong with it. It keeps going on and never stops. Personally, before I started doing Metropole and even a long time after it began, I didn't give two hoots about the weather. It is what you get and there isn't anything you can do about it.

If you ignore it you either get rained on or the sun shines on you. The news is just about the same. If you ignore it, it goes on happening but you don't know anything about it.

In my 'Café Life' I have noticed that the other characters in it seldom talk about current 'news.' Claudio, the guy whophoto: sculpt, strebelle, sur un grand pied V snips off my excess hair, talks about actors who have retired, Dennis talks about plays I've never heard of and Dimitri talks about his Deux-Chevaux.

This probably sounds pretty boring compared to botched escape attempts from Fresnes, with shoot-outs between a hijacked get-away helicopter and the guard towers, and I guess it is.

In this issue, 'free' art in the Place Vendôme, by Olivier Strebelle.

After it, the guards at Fresnes held a protest strike outside the prison - possibly to try and convince the Minister of the Interior to forbid escape attempts with helicopters. Residents living in the neighborhood of the prison were pretty upset too - with all the movie-type special effects stuff being live and with real bullets.

But is this 'news?' Where you are sitting reading this, you probably don't even know where Fresnes prison is.

Actually Dimitri should have mentioned it because the prison is about a stone's throw from where his monthly Friday night Deux-Chevaux club meetings are held. But I don't think Dimitri reads the papers often and I know he has no TV. For him, the botched escape never happened.

TGV Méditerreanée

Just over a week ago TGV train number 531 left Calais and began a 1069 kilometre non-stop run to Marseille, where it arrived three hours and 29 minutes after leaving Calais.

This dash from one end of France to another, was done to test the endurance of a TGV train, because this is the longest stretch of rails there is in France. The train averaged slightly over 300 kph for the distance.

The test was set up to determine whether TGV trains are sturdy enough to assure daily schedules between Paris and Marseille, which will take about three hours. Regular service is scheduled to begin on Sunday, 10. June.

The SNCF's top management and the train's driver were pretty happy with the perfect performance, which quietly set several railroading records at the same time.

From a practical point of view, real estate agents in Marseille are beside themselves with joy. Apparently all sorts of Parisians have decided that Marseille is now a Paris suburb, and they are buying residences in the city on the Mediterranean like cookies.

This isn't making everybody in Marseille happy, because it is pushing up local housing values, which were somewhat under-valued for all the years when there was no fast connection to Paris.

Big Fish Story of the Week

This 'fish' story is a couple of week's old, but is backed up with a photo showing the Seine in flood. It shows one fellow holding a fishing rod and a big fish-net,photo: cafe terrace, r st roche standing in the river's water with his pant-legs rolled up.

Another fellow is holding up a fish - a type of catfish to be exact - estimated to weigh about 25 kilos, and well over a metre long.

Is it a terrace or a slum? Only 50 metres from the Rue Saint-Honoré.

The fisherman, an American named James Prosek, never goes anywhere without his fishing gear and tries every likely spot he can, according to Le Parisien. He hooked the monster from the upstream tip of the Ile Saint-Louis.

After the photo was taken, the fish was tossed back into the water. Knowledgeable Parisians estimate there are more animals like it in the river, some of them bigger.

Should 'Raves' Be Banned?

A 'Rave-party' is an affair that used to be called a 'Be-In' in the '60s. The wide-spread introduction of mobile phones has given 'Rave-parties' the possibility to be very spontaneous.

So much so that back in April a right-wing deputy named Thierry Mariani proposed a law that called for the confiscation of equipment essential for successful 'Rave-parties.' What is meant is the electronic hardware necessary for making loud noises.

Then Socialist deputies got behind the government's Minister of the Interior, Daniel Vaillant, and passed a stronger amendment - making it a crime not to get a correct permit to hold a 'Rave-party.' As it stands, there is a possible fine of 20,000 francs and six months in jail for the organizers, plus the confiscation of audio equipment.

However other Socialist big hats are not at all happy with this - because 'Techno' is officially tolerated, and this year's Lesbian & Gaypride Parade is liable to be a bigger affair than in the past, supported as it is by both the government and the city administration.

I haven't been able to find the newspaper report about it, but last week's TV-news reported a fairly-well attended sit-in on Thursday, 24. May by 'Ravers' at the Hôtel de Ville. This annoyed police officials because these citizens had not bothered to get a permit to do this.

Other peaceful sit-ins were staged in Marseille, Nantes, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse. In Toulouse, the CRS got nervous and used a bit of muscle.

The 'Ravers' now have an organization named 'Technopol' and this has called for 'peaceful and festivephoto: brix bar, rue des pyramides demonstration for the right to party' on Saturday, 16. June at the Place de la Bastille, with the slogan 'Let Us Dance!' Whether the organizers have a permit for this is unknown.

Technopol also claims that since the restrictive amendments were introduced, entertainment permits are bring more routinely refused to bars, cafés, clubs and concert halls.

One of Paris' odd little bars, in the Rue des Pyramides.

'Rave-parties' have been going on around France for ten years, but have probably gotten a lot more active since mobile phones came into widespread use. Generally, the idea is to find some remote place, where it is possible to make a lot of noise without bothering neighbors.

'Free-parties' are the same as 'Raves,' with the former being free of entry charges and the latter usually costing between 100 and 200 francs for the entry.

The parties, which can draw from 300 to 30,000, are usually assisted by Médecins du Monde. During one four-day 'Rave' recently, only one person out of an estimated 25,000 was evacuated by an ambulance.

Internet Life

Patrimonie Archéologique

Archeology is the subject of new Web sites being set up by France's Ministry of Culture, with a generic name of Patrimonie Archéologique as a staring place. Hit the link and then look for 'Expositions Virtuelles' and then 'Grands Sites Archéologiques.'

One already has its own domain names. This is the Abbaye Saint-Germain d'Auxerre. Another is the Grotte Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc, which is still marking time in a sub-domain - which is not a pun, exactly.


Readers occasionally write to ask me to look up their relatives with origins in France. If they might be still living and possibly have a telephone number in Paris, I will take a look in the phone book. Otherwise, I am not a 'missing-persons' detective.

But most requests are for older family names, sometimes with a gap of a couple of hundred years between thenphoto: small door, cordeliers and now, and sometimes quite a geographical gap as well. Due to privacy laws in France, getting a look at some official documents containing personal records is not possible unless they are over 100 years old.

Of all things, there is actually an institution called the Bibliothèque Généalogique de Paris, from which you might be able to get some information.

The smaller entry to the Couvent des Cordeliers.

There is also a somewhat commercial Web site, operated by Laurent Fordant which will take you a certain distance. If the name you are looking for isn't there, it probably means it isn't anywhere. But if it is, then you can go further, but it may cost a bit.

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.

A 'ThankYou' and an 'oops' goes to Mark Wu in London for sending in "I saw this and thought of you." The 'oops' is because I forgot to look at it - having only just found it in the email Inbox. Now that I've looked at it with my non-Java browser all I can say is that the URL exists. 'Java' is 'oops'-prone.

The 'Official' Weather - 98.9% True?

A couple of issues ago right here in this spot, I reported that Météo-France intended to begin giving out local short-term forecasts. Last week, by pure dumb luck I picked up two brochures that seem to be announcing this new service.

If you will recall what I wrote here some time ago, and then endlessly repeated - okay, so youphoto: thermometre, 28.5 C don't remember, no harm done! Anyway, I said you would be able to get a forecast in the morning, so you could reliably plan to have a picnic - at, say, the Parc Montsouris - at lunchtime, which is from 13:00 to 16:30 in Paris.

If the forecast turned out rotten, you could quietly turn over and snooze until 17:00 without wasting any of your time. You can therefore understand the value of short-range local forecasts.

No sooner said than done, in a manner of speaking. Right now, you can dial up Météo-France on your favorite Web browser, and get what is actually happening with the weather right now at Météo-France's Paris weatherstation located next door to me on top of the modest heights of Montsouris - 'Mouse-Mountain.'

This weather outlook station has been operating for 129 years, and it has kept careful track of past weather in Paris. Thus, it can say the coldest year was 1879, the hottest was 1994 - I don't remember this - and the year with the most rain was last year, 2000!

Starting later this year, Météo-France will also institute its 'Vigilance-Météo' service, which will show at a glance whether you can expect high winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, blizzards and/or avalanches in Paris.

These will be signalled by a four-color system of graphic warnings, with green indicating 'no particular vigilance necessary.' The sample map shows Paris as 'green,' and 'red' for the Golfe du Lion area. 'Red' means exceptionally dangerous.

In general, seven-day forecasts will be available for Paris and the Ile-de-France, with special attention being given to weekends.

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