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 other volunteers at the party, along with four ambulances and two water trucks.

If this particular party was without incident other than a fair amount of rain, a young man died of a heart attack at another small rave-party at Saint-Jure, south of Metz. Two other rave-parties took place over the weekend too - both without incident.

Revolving Green Door

Minister of the Environment, Dominique Voynet of 'Les Verts' party, voluntarily resigned herphoto: doorway, rue de lorraine government post to become national secretary of her party. This departure had been announced long in advance.

After a lively battle - to choose the Green's candidate for the coming presidential elections - Yves Cochet emerged as the Greens' choice to replace Mme. Voynet in the government, with the environmental portfolio.

Hand on heart - honestly! - this green door has nothing to do with the sub-head.

These days in France, when something bad happens to the environment, the weight of it falls on the shoulders of 'Les Verts' rather than on the Socialists, who have the majority of leftist deputies in the Assembly Nationale.

Bad Weather - Unexceptional!

Up until a week ago, the Azores 'high' had the upper hand in France, and even in Paris the mercury passed the 30 degree mark on several days.

But since then the Iceland 'low' has gotten the upper hand by forcing the Azores 'high' to stay out in the Atlantic, and causing local temperatures to barely match highs of 19 degrees.

Much the same thing happened in 1998 and 2000. The essential difference this year, has been the increase of rain, with Météo-France's station at Montsouris getting 104 millimetres of rain on Friday, 6. July - beating the August 1987 record of 96 mm.

Zero-sum Counterfeiters

A civic client, who happened to drop into a local printing shop and happened to notice men in the atelier in the rear handling sheets of money, quietly left and skipped along to the nearest telephone booth to dial '17' for the local police commissariat.

Caught red-handed by Cergy's Police Judiciaire, the busy counterfeiters did not bother denying their activity - not with the cops holding on to films, plates, more than 8.6 million francs printed on uncut sheets and another 8.6 million-worth neatly cut into notes.

The accomplices had put very little into circulation, possibly because they specialized exclusively in 20-franc notes - which makes it doubtful if they had carefully thought out a plan of distribution - except if they thought they would be easy to get rid of because there isn't many 20-franc notes in general circulation.

But it doesn't much matter because counterfeit is counterfeit, and they risk getting whacked with 30-year terms in prison.

Sports Non-News

In Moscow on Friday, Paris' candidature to hold the Olympic Games in 2008 was defeated by the International Olympic Committee.

According to Le Parisien, the 62 members of the French delegation in Moscow for the decision were surprised that Paris only came in third, in the second and final round of voting - behind Toronto.

Paris had put a lot of effort into its candidature, plus a reported 160 million francs. But with Athens getting the summer games in 2004 and Turin set to stage the winter games in 2006, it should have seemed certain that no city in Europe would have a chance for the 2008 games.

The summer Olympics have been held in Paris twice already - in 1900 and in 1924. But the games have never been put on in South America, Africa, or the Indian sub-continent.

Internet Life

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.

I have not overlooked the URLs I've received recently, and I have even checked them out. But I am going to save them for a coming issue for two reasons.

You may be on holidays and you may overlook your modest 'thankYou' here, and I wish I were on holidays already and this issue was over with. We've got to have something to do when both of us get back.

Forecast for the Rest of the Summer

Here it is, mid-July and the last of the three 'grands départs' has departed, and Le Parisien is being pessimistic about the rest of the summer's weather. 'If this Continues, We're Going Home!' says its headline today.

But it isn't over until its over, so you will stillphoto: rotonde de la villette be interested in Météo-France's short-range forecasts - which may predict better weather for northern France if you stay tuned in long enough.

It is called the 'Rotonde de la Villette' because it is round - and it is near Villette.

Météo-France has also begun its 'Vigilance-Météo' service, which consists of putting out special alerts concerning hurricane-speed winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, tornados, blizzards and/or avalanches within the next few hours in Paris and throughout France.

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