The 'Big Rabbit' Theory

photo: cafe for lease

For ambitious readers - a café ready to be leased.

More Euro Tidbits

Paris:- Monday, 21. January 2002:- This week I regret that I have some bad news for all readers. I think I have may have neglected to mention here that 2002 is a national election year in France. The control of the national assembly and the country's presidency are at stake.

This means that my usual sources of 'news' for this column will be overloaded with political stories, which should not be confused with 'news' in the classic sense of the word.

For example, at first reading the report below looks like news 'as usual' in France - but it could be hiding political news.

When doctors go 'on strike' they do not do so without some extreme reason - in fact, nearly nobody in France goes 'on strike' without some extreme reason.

So the question is - exactly how is France managed? Why are 'extreme reasons' constantly popping up? Is it possible that they are 'arranged?'

When opposition parties are being cynical, they will accuse the presiding government of 'wait-and-see' attitudes - the French word is 'attentisme' - which is exactly what the opposition does too when in power.

While this form of management can bring the people it affects to the boiling point, it can also have politicalphoto: av denfert, wednesday uses. Leave a problem alone long enough - for years if necessary - and then 'solving' it just before an election, could help to make the decision makers in power look good.

Last Wednesday's sun in the Avenue Denfert-Rochereau was nearly the last of the week.

In fact, I almost suspect political science gurus to have formulated a theory that goes like this - if elected, do nothing for half the term of office. Then for the second half - minus three months - switch to 'wait-and-see.' In the final three months, pull fat rabbits out of hats.

The opposition can call you names, but names can't hurt you if you've got big rabbits.

No 'Toubib' Week

Practically everybody in the medical professions in France is angry with things as they are. Today, non-medical hospital personnel were 'on strike.' On Tuesday it is the turn of the independent nurses, who handle many of the ex-hospital services for out-patients.

But the big day will be Wednesday when the 'Toubibs' go out to march on the streets of France. 'Toubib' is a word that comes from North Africa, for general practitioner - and these are the work-horses of general medicine.

News services are warning everybody to 'not get sick' this week. Dentists are thinking of striking too and so are private ambulance services. Even 'SOS-Médecines' are threatening to have a day off.

That this comes at a time when winter' the annual epidemic of winter influenza is raging throughout the country is pure chance.

photo: snack caravan, place denfertBut the result is that hospital emergency wards have been flooded with patients to the point of bursting. TV-news has shown patients literally stacked up in hospital halls and wards like cordwood.

A Paris-style hot-dog stand, with palm-reading handily to the left.

There are two main issues - the 35-hour work week and more money. Getting hospital staff onto a 35-hour week requires 80,000 in new staff, and the government has only agreed to an additional 30,000.

To cite just two examples, the independent nurses haven't had a raise in their rates for services in 20 years. General practitioners are trying to get a raise of about 2.50euro 3 sign for a consultation, to bring their present base fee up to 20euro 3 sign.

The Short Big Wheel Story of the Week

Last week Marcel Campion, the operator of the big Paris' Big Wheel in the Place de la Concorde, threw in the towel, and ceased stalling on pulling the thing down and getting it out of the place.

Some More Info About Euros

All prices within the euro-zone countries in Europe are now posted in euros, just as if you are visiting one foreign country with a bunch of different names - all having a common currency you have never seen before.

Some Common Euro Prices
  • 1.05-1.10euro 3 sign - for a espresso café, standing at a bar
  • 1.85-2.00euro 3 sign - for a 'demi' of beer
  • 2.00-2.20euro 3 sign - for a 14 cl glass of Côtes du Rhône
  • 2.70euro 3 sign - for a glass of cola, at a bar
  • 9.00euro 3 sign - for an average 'plat du jour'
  • 0.70euro 3 sign - for a standard baguette
  • 3.25euro 3 sign - for a packet of Gitanes
  • 3.60euro 3 sign - for a packet of US-type cigarettes
Paris Public Transport - In Euros

You can go to the hassle of calculating the euro value of the RATP's métro-bus tickets in francs if you want to waste your time, but residents are not bothering to do this anymore.

Here are some new public transport prices, which will be posted in euros, and in francs for those trying to unload them:-

  • 1.30euro 3 sign - for a single métro/bus ticket
  • 9.30euro 3 sign - for a 'carnet' of 10 tickets
  • 13.25euro 3 sign - for a weekly 2-zone Orange card*
  • 44.36euro 3 sign - for a monthly 2-zone Orange card
  • 5.00euro 3 sign - for a one-day 2-zone Mobilis card
  • 8.35euro 3 sign - for a one-day 2-zone 'Paris Visite' card
  • 13.70euro 3 sign - for a two-day 2-zone 'Paris Visite' card
  • 7.60euro 3 sign - for a one-way Roissy-Rail ticket, to or from the airport
  • *All of Paris is included within '2-zones' - which are called zones 1 and 2. In the Paris transport region there are eight zones. Weekly or monthly tickets can be purchased for any combination of 'zones.'

You can also pay - in cash only - with francs until Sunday, 17. February. Métro station ticket sellers willphoto: marie de medicis, statue 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.

This is the lady who used to own the Luxembourg - Marie de Médicis.

Beginning on Monday, 18. February, city transit prices will be posted in euros only. Francs will no longer be accepted for transit payments - or any other sort of transactions.

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. Three-franc stamps will remain valid for some time yet. Postage stamps purchased in France are for use within the country, or for mailing to other countries. Do not use a French 'euro' stamp to post a letter to France from a foreign country, even in the EC.

Cheques - if you have a franc-value cheque book, it cannot be used after 1 January 2002. You are also advised not to use French euro-value cheques in euro-zone countries because the banks are being greedy with their charges. Use plastic instead.

If you have received a franc-value cheque issued during 2001, it can be cashed - for euros - by a French bank for one year plus eight days after its issue date.

Cash - as of now, banks will only hand out cash in the new euro currency. Both franc coins and banknotes can be exchanged for euros at banks in France until Saturday, 29. June 2002. Otherwise, franc coins can be exchanged for euros at any branch of the Banque de France until 2005. The deadline for banknotes is 2012.

Exchange - the simplest way with the best rates is generally from ATMs. Street banks like to make a lot of commissions on exchange transactions, so you may get a better deal at the many exchange-only shops around the city. These generally post their current rates clearly. If there has been no alteration to custom, the daily 'fixing' for new dollar-euro rates is posted at 14:00.

ATMs - the story is that all 37,000 ATM distributors in France have been switched from francs to euros. All of the Paris transit ticket vending machines made the switch too - for both cash and cards. No doubt the same has being said of all vending machines throughout Europe.

You do not have to change your plastic card to a 'euro' version.

Scrambled Money - euro coins have a 'euro' side and a national side. Euro banknotes do not. Do not be surprised to receive euro coins in France with Italian reverse sides. France has had to 'borrow' several tons of Italian euro coins because of a three-week strike at its coin mint last year.

Apparently all of the 500euro 3 sign notes circulating in France are from Germany. Merchants in France may be reluctant to accept them because nobody is rich enough in France to go shopping with them.

No matter which EC country is featured on one side of the coin, all euros in Europe are euro 3 signuros. Do not accept euros made in non-euro countries.

Opportunity of a Lifetime - is expected to be the case for counterfeiters, especially at the beginning of the euro-era when ordinary folks are not too familiar with the new currency. The first fake 100euro 3 sign note turned up in France on Saturday, 12. January.

People who are in the money handling professions have been taking fake-euro detection courses, so these may be the first to tell you that you've been stuck with a fake. Try to be relaxed about this.

Internet Life

This will take another nap this week on account of this writer feeling like taking a nap all of the time. Sometimes the urge for these little snoozes is caused by the same effect that causes ho-hums.

But while I'm at this section of the magazine, I would like to thank all regular and new readers for giving this magazine some attention during the past year.

Most statistics seem a little dubious to me. On top of it, robots that do the counting for Metropole tend to 'forget' a couple of months every year. All the same, if I can believe what I've seen - readership of this online magazine has increased by 47 or 35 percent since the beginning of 2001.

Since the base numbers at the beginning of 2001 were not low to start with, getting percentage increases in the range mentioned above, is encouraging as well as rewarding.

Winter Weather Alerts

This service from our friends at France-Météo gives warnings about near-term violent weather that mightphoto: old style morris column be dangerous to your health, or, on a lesser scale, cause you some discomfort if you happen to be at sea without an anchor or up a snowy mountain without a flask.

One of the fewer 'old' Morris columns around.

Paris, with its simple zero temperatures and generally light breezes does not often qualify as a 'dangerous weather' area. It is not even an exciting weather area. The alert service is mainly for central, eastern and southern arras of France that regularly have more extreme weather than the Ile-de-France region.

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

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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