French Cocos Chose Lady

photo: bistro du dome, rue delambre

If the Dôme is too much for you, this is its quieter
annex in the Rue Delambre.

Are You Ready for Canned Pastis?

Paris:- Monday, 29. October 2001:- The French Communist Party, in a vote on Saturday night, chose Marie-George Buffet as the new secretary of the party, which turned out to be several 'firsts' in one.

Madame Buffet is also a cabinet minister in the Socialist-dominated government, presided over by Lionel Jospin. She holds the portfolio for 'Youth and Sports.'

Her election was allowed by the introduction of a new post in the French PC's leadership, also created on Saturday. The former party secretary, Robert Hue, stepped up to the position of 'president' of the party, after having been the fourth secretary of the PCF since France's liberation in WWII.

This left some party members perplexed, as the PCF has never had a president before. Others suggested that Madame Buffet had no need of a 'chaperon,' in the form of a party president.

Government minister and party secretary, 52 year-old Madame Buffet joined the PCF in the late '60s, andphoto: wheel at concorde joined its Central Committee in 1987. She donates her ministerial salary to the PCF and lives modestly in Blanc-Mesnil, where she was elected as a national deputy in 1997.

Concorde's wheel keeps on twirling - but not for much longer.

Madame Buffet expects to remain a minister in the government until next spring's presidential elections, when Robert Hue will be running for the office of Président of France. Afterwards she hopes to return to being an ordinary deputy.

In other news during the week, it was reported that the PCF has been signing up a good number of new members.

Non-Hijack of the Week

A Boeing-load of gay Brits were snuggled cozily into their snug airplane seats high over France on their way home from vacations in Spain, when somebody looked out what passes for a window on a 737, and noticed that their airliner was being shadowed by a jet fighter.

While most passengers - not recognizing a French airforce Mirage F-1B - went into a total panic, fearing a hijacking of some sort, one had the presence of mind to film the nearby jet fighter - and later probably made a tidy bundle by selling the tape to TV-news.

According to France-2's version of TV-news, whoever did the filming knew his way around the camera and the Mirage showed up fine, nice and clear.

What wasn't at all clear to the panic-stricken passengers returning from Malaga, was that their plane's crew had lost radio contract with French air controllers - and these sent up the Mirage for a look-see.

While the plane's crew waved 'all is well' at the fighter pilot, they forgot to tell passengers that losing ground-control radio contact is fairly routine and having a jet fighter as a sort of nursemaid is not a cause for sheer and utter panic.

According to both TV-news and Le Parisien, with hundreds of inner- European flights crossing France, this sort of lost-radio incident happens about twice a week.

Shadow City Council

One of the new ideas in the Hôtel de Ville is to give a public voice to Paris residents who are neither French nor citizens of a European Community country.

Public meetings for potential council members were begun in June and continued on Saturday in participating arrondissements. These number 12 out of 20, with the tenth arrondissement, under leftist control not participating and the 15th, under rightist control, going along with it.

The present meetings are called the 'Assises de la Citoyennité,' which means they are meant to be democratic forums for expression concerning life in the city for foreigners.

Of course the right-wing fears that participation by non-French and non-European residents will be the first step to a right-to-vote in municipal elections - butphoto: fall street scene this seems unlikely to happen soon in France.

To belong to the 'Conseil de la Citoyennité' one must be over 18 and have lived in Paris since before 31. December 2000. Candidates can apply until 21. November of this year.

Exactly how the choice will be made is unknown, but 90 foreign residents will form the future 'Conseil de la Citoyennité,' with Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë as this council's leader.

More fall color adds to normally somber city views.

According to the 1999 census, there were 166,585 non-French, non-EU foreigners living in Paris. While nearly half were citizens of African countries, there were a substantial number from Asia, including 6,334 Japanese.

Non-EU Europeans numbered nearly 18 thousand, South Americans accounted for 8,316 and North Americans numbered 8,176.

Culture Strikes - Continue

According to Sunday's Le Parisien, there is 'good news' for tourists. The paper says the recent wave of strikes at national culture sites is 'almost' over.

On Saturday the Louvre opened its doors for the first time in eight days. While the strikers decided to suspend their blockade, a Paris judge alsophoto: red, black flags, louvre pyramid ordered them to unblock the Louvre's doors.

The situation remains confused however, with the Centre Pompidou open, the Guimet and the Arc de Triomphe closed, and the Musée d'Orsay half open, at half-price.

Last Thursday at the Louvre - on strike'

It has been estimated by the Louvre's directors that, since the strikes began last March, 430,000 museum visitors have been turned away and the museum has lost 15 million francs at the box-office.

Winter Sales Start Early

While the Galeries Lafayette announced its intention to take over the Marks & Spencer chain in France last week, talks concerning details about taking over the M&S employees will not begin before the end of the month.

In this state the present management has decided to hold its 'winter sales' at the 22 stores, from the 1st of December until the 22nd, in an effort to get rid of all the merchandise on hand.

Employees are worried because they have had good conditions under the M&S management, and they do not expect those of Galeries Lafayette to be so favorable.

Canned Pastis?

While the government's traffic safety people are trying to convince - eternally - drivers in France to drive sober - and young people not to drink at all - the Paul Ricard pastis conglomo plans to put the alcoholic drink on the market in a tinned form.

Well, not in cans either. Rather in small bottles with pop-tops. Actually, it will be pastis pre-mixed to its recommended dilution of five-to-one, or with an alcohol content of 7.5 percent by volume.

The test-market of Toulouse has been chosen as a launching-pad, set for about 10. November. The company hasn't divulged the product's name, but in Marseille's Vieux-Port it has been reported as being called the 'P'tit Jaune.'

This is not a Halloween 'trick.'

Internet Life

Is It Me or My Browser? - Part III

After careful consideration of any week's 'Question of the Week' here, I am convinced my browser is working fine enough, but its operator has no patience with Web sites that do trick things like 'freezing' all activity.

Maybe it isn't these Web sites at all. Maybe it is the WorldWideWeb and what it has become. Frankly, I do not know what it is - the Web sites, the Web, my browser, me, or my toothpaste?

But don't let my minor problems put you off. After all I am only a part-time user who is seriously considering quitting all browsing. While this is under consideration, I am also saving all of my candle-stubs in case of serious failures of the supply of plain old electricity to my poor, old computer.

The Call for Your URLs

This has been answered fairly frequently by Alan Pavlik, and last week he picked up a feature about Paris' 'Top Ten' Web sites from L'Obs, which is a fairly reliable weekly magazine - and sent a copy of their list to me.

Knowing that checking these Web sites would require more than 15 minutes, I began my 'testing' late on Saturday, actually in the low-rate access time zone of Sunday.

The first one, called 'Ze Guide' did not appear to have a Web-server in operation. I tried it twice too. But I managed better with Parissi, which is supposed to have a good 'clubbing' section.

Another one called Viva Paris is oriented towards life in the city, and it has a companion for all France, called Viva La Ville.

'Nova ' magazine's Web site was also in the list, but when I tried it I was told to download 'Flash 5.' I did not do this, so Nova's online 'Planet' remains as mysterious as the other side of Mars.

There is a new weekly program magazine, which has probably been around for years, but it has been brought to my attentionphoto: entry musee montparnasse by neighbors - as being a lot more, for only 1.50 francs extra. This is 'Zurban.' I noticed it said I should be using a late-model version of one or the other browser, but I must have the wrong one because it froze solid. The paper version of the magazine is pretty good though.

When in the neighborhood, pay the Musée du Montparnasse a visit.

This leaves six Web sites I didn't get around to on account of all the 'freezes' caused by the first four of 'Paris Ten Best' Web sites. To be continued, with a 'thankyou' to Alan for sending these in.

Restaurant Life In Paris, II

I confess I looked at this other restaurant site that claims to have 89,117 addresses referenced throughout France, with none of them being more than 'four clicks' away from my - or your - eyeballs.

'Resto-Guide' has recently had its navigation 'improved.' I can't say anything about this because I never saw its 'before' version, but don't let me put anybody off. You already know how grouchy I am about these things.

As this Web site features eating establishments all around France, you might find it useful for tracking down your favorite regional dishes - so long as you know their names in French. The search begins within a diametre of 24 kilometres, and you can increase it by three-kilometre slices. Give it a try, just for fun.

Weather Alerts

This new service from our friends at France-Météo only has one major fault - it doesn't give warnings about coming extra-fair weather, only about the bad stuff. So far it has utterly failed to signal the current wave of 'Indian Summer.' This news might even be useful for farmers and fishermen.

The warning system of 'Vigilance-Météo' consists of assigning four colors to departments or regions in France liable to be attacked by hurricane-speed winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, tornados, blizzards and/or avalanches - and it is updated twice daily.

If you are curious or need to know more, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. The 'Vigilance-Météo' area is on the page's top left.

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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