Far More Than You Wanted

photo: cafe le centre ville, montorgueil

The best thing about shopping in Paris is all the warm
places to sit down.

To Know About the Euro

Paris:- Tuesday, 18. December 2001:- Despite all the other news - interns on strike, huge traffic jams, fires, stick-ups, clochards freezing to death, blizzards, - the real 'news' is obviously the arrival of the 'euro.'

But before I get into this, you will probably be pleased to know that France's gendarmes 'won' their illegal non-strike against their own military establishment, gaining 1000-franc a month raises, plus promises of 50,000 real bullet-proof vests, new cop cars and trucks, new housing conditions and no less than one new computer for every two members of the service - which is the equivalent of the national police. Up until now, they have been using their own personal computers.

What was probably the most astonishing of all, was a front-page photo in French papers showing demonstrating uniformed but hatless gendarmes having a face-to-face with anti-mutiny CRS troops with their battle headgear. In the photo it looked as if neither side was going to blink.

Instead, the ministers of defense, finance and the interior blinked and caved in to the demands of the underpaid and under-equipped police force, and the country returned to its fragile state of civil peace.

The labor action by the gendarmes - who are not allowed to have 'labor actions' because they are a military unit, operating under military laws - provedphoto: dolls, teddys, pass jouffroy yet again that governments will allow situations drift on endlessly, until those with grievances take to the streets to protest - even if they could be court- martialled for it.

Paris' passages - with treasure troves of toys.

Technically speaking, the protest actions by tens of thousands of gendarmes throughout France, was mutiny. Yet, for perfectly obvious reasons, no one will be charged with this offense.

In fact, the gendarmes' 'malaise' has caught on with other police forces - many of which do have a 'right to strike.'

In a larger sense, the sensational action by France's national police force has pointed out a fundamental flaw of the French form of government and business management in general.

When there is a grievance and it is not treated seriously, the French seem to be able to put up with inattention or indifference for a long time with only a bit of grumbling. But time after time, events show that ignoring grievances cannot last forever.

What does seem endless, is the government's and business management's inability to grasp this simple fact - which is proved over and over again, year in and year out.

For this reason, the next time you are locked out of the Louvre, try to remember that the people who are on strike are probably embarrassed to be working for employers who are dumb enough to prefer you to be locked out rather than listen to their own employees.

'Nobody wins strikes' - does not seem to be a true fact that is taught at French management schools.

The Euro Is a Winner!

Last Friday morning, governments in Ireland, Holland and France woke up not knowing if the euro would be accepted or ignored by Europeans - not really knowing if there is such as thing as the European Community. I bet a lot of very high and worried officials skipped their breakfasts and started biting their fingernails instead.

Last Friday, 'kits' of euro coins, worth 100 francs, went on sale in France, and possibly Ireland. Inphoto: horsemeat butcher, montorgueil Holland, euro 'kits' worth a lesser amount were offered for free. It was the turn of the Belgians, Luxemburgers, Italians, Spanish, Austrians and Finns on Saturday.

The French surprised the government and themselves by going out and buying them as if they were a strictly limited one-time offer. Before noon signs were all over Paris saying the kits were 'sold out.'

Not only is racing popular with bettors, Parisian eat horses.

In fact, authorities had ordered 50 million of the 'kits,' containing exactly 15.25euro 3 sign. They were 'on sale' at banks, tabacs, 17,000 post offices and in some stores - and most sales locations had a limit of one kit per customer.

Although the Banque de France claimed that it was able to satisfy 92 percent of the 'demand' in the Ile-de-France region, this was only because the 'sold out' signs went up so quickly. Other surveys and polls about the interest in first-day demand for the euro were half wrong as well.

It wasn't until Monday night's TV-news that residents in France found out that Germany's euro launch had taken place, with about the same result as is France - a huge sellout on the first day, with long lines of eager euro-fans in banks, sparkassen and post offices.

Apparently the official fingernail biting went on throughout Europe for the weekend until it was seen how the hard-DM Germans would react to the new currency.

For the moment - actually for the next two weeks - these distributed euro coins are play money. To makephoto: euro calc, parisien purchases in euros right now, only cheques and cards are bring accepted.

My very own 'euro' calculator will soon be a rare souvenir of the franc era.

I didn't get my 'kit' because I had forgotten about it until I saw the 'sold out' signs. Like some few others, I also prefer to make the big switch when the currency is really legal tender on 1. January.

On Sunday, even though I wasn't very fast out of the starting gate, I managed to get Le Parisien's Sunday offer of a france-euro converter - for the price of the paper's Sunday edition.

So far, all I have been able to find out about how it works, has been to verify that 1euro 3 sign equals 6.55967 francs.

Euro Prices for Métro Tickets

After the SNCF's limited half-price offer for the New Years period expires and the Paris' public transport free ride ends at noon on Tuesday, 1 January, the RATP's ticket prices in Paris will be posted in euros.

Here are the new prices, which will be posted in euros, and in francs:-

  • 1.30euro 3 sign - for a single métro/bus ticket
  • 9.30euro 3 sign - for a 'carnet' of 10 tickets
  • 5euro 3 sign - for a one-day 2-zone Mobilis card
  • 16.75euro 3 sign - for a weekly 3-zone Orange card
  • 44.36euro 3 sign - for a monthly 2-zone Orange card

You can also pay - in cash only - with francs until Sunday, 17. February. Métro station ticket sellers will accept cash payments in a mixture of euros and francs until this date too, if you are brave enough to try it. Bus drivers will accept both too, but not mixed. All change will be rendered in euros.

Automated ticket vending machines will only accept euro coins. They will also accept French and international payment cards just like they do now.

Beginning on Monday, 18. February, city transport prices will be posted in euros only. Francs will no longer be accepted for transit payments.

Tickets bought with francs can be exchanged for euros at banks, post offices and the Banque de France up until Sunday, 30. June 2002.

La Poste - has announced that its standard 3-franc stamp will cost .46euro 3 sign, which is rounded-up slightly. Older 3-franc stamps will remain valid after the beginning of the year. Postage stamps purchased inphoto: passage jouffroy France are for use within the country, or for mailing to other countries. To post a letter o France from a foreign country, even in the EC, do not use a French 'euro' stamp.

Passages may not be over-heated, but they are always dry.
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