New Election Campaign Begins

photo: bistro chez areski, quai de loire

Here is Areski's bistro, almost right next to the
Bassin de la Villette.

Lost Rave Party Found

Paris:- Monday, 16. July 2001:- Traditionally the Président of France 'speaks to the nation' on the occasion of Bastille Day and this year was no exception when Jacques Chirac granted an interview to the number one newscasters of the three main TV channels.

This year's dialogue was a bit different though because the presidential election is coming up next spring. So far there already seems to be a dozen official candidates, and it can be assumed that the current president, and the prime minister, Lionel Jospin, will be candidates too.

Because of this, some elements of the day-to-day political wrestling seem to have taken on additional motives. The continual low-level friction between a president of one party and the opposing party's governing majority has escalated - with no further 'cadeaux' expected from either side.

There are a lot of differences in opinions about what France should be like, or should become. Both sides of the mainstream know that many of the country's institutions were formed and developed in and for other centuries, and changes need to be made.

The arguments begin with the 'how?' and 'what?' The discussions revolving around these will be fully aired over the next nine months or so. One can hope that these will not be too abstract, so that ordinary citizens will be able to form opinions.

For his Bastille Day performance on TV, Jacques Chirac rolled up a score of 9.3 million viewers, which was pretty good for daytime TV.

Cloud Cover

The best seat for watching Saturday's Bastille Day parade was in a warm, dry place, near a TV set. Clouds hung so low over the Champs-Elysées that the French air force let three Mirages fly over them and then grounded the rest of the planned airshow.

This left the damp avenue and its parade of military pomp, which was led by Spain's Royal Guards while France's Republican Guards brought up the rear.

In between there were the armed polytechnicians, the armed gendarmes, the armed army, the armed navy, the armed national police, the mostly unarmed Foreign Legion, the not-armed-with-machineguns-with-bayonets gendarmes on motorcycles, several convoys of trucks, armed andphoto: bar le tamda unarmed, armed jeeps, armed light tanks, unarmed military ambulances and the brigades of Paris' sapeurs- pompiers.

A quiet bar called 'Le Tamda' in the Rue de Crimée. I think - maybe.

The 500 ladies marching in the parade, in all uniforms from every service, also were mostly armed, with what may be a standard parade-version of a machinegun-with-bayonet - which I suspect is really plastic, because real ones wouldn't have bayonets.

The whole bunch rode or marched or drove through the relentlessly pouring rain as if it were not there, while watched by King Juan Carlos of Spain, without a raincoat, and Président Chirac, wearing a raincoat - and a large number of dignitaries who were under the dubious cover of a viewing stand in the Place de la Concorde.

The parade was followed a couple of hours later by a traditional garden party in the grounds of the Elysée Palace, where many guests found the going somewhat muddy.

Lost Rave Party Found

Last Wednesday the Ardèche region was asking itself if it were to be the location of a Bastille weekend 'rave-party,' which were once known as 'Be-Ins' if you are about 400 years old and have a good memory.

Starting from a rumor, the local prefecture began to look for a possible site, including a local airport used for fire prevention aviation. A helicopter was sent out to look around.

By Thursday, the Ardèche was in a state of high alert but Friday's edition of Le Parisien saidphoto: bridge, canal st martin the party's promoters had decided to find another department - which was announced by robot-phone as 'on the autoroute A-75 between Millau and Mende.'

Television news and about 15,000 'ravers' found their spot on Friday night or early Saturday in the Aveyron department, somewhere near a village called Marcillac-Vallon, to the northwest of Rodez.

One of the Canal Saint-Martin's elegant iron footbridges.

Gendarmes in Aveyron had been half-expecting this, but had guessed the target might be Almont-les-Junies, near Decazeville. However a farmer had lent his property to a 'friend' - for a 'barbecue party with a couple of friends.'

This 'friend' admitted that he had understated the number of 'friends' expected, but had chosen the spot because it was far away from any villages. By the time the location was public knowledge, Médecins du Monde and the Croix-Rouge were in place.

Gendarmes were also on the spot to direct traffic and they were assisted by a CRS company. Other than the firemen and the SAMU, there were 70 ther volunteers at the party, along with four ambulances and two water trucks.

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