The 'Big Wheel' Deal

photo: resto louis xiii

It's warm, it smells good - welcome to the Louis XIII.

Saint-Laurent Says Adieu

Paris:- Monday, 28. January 2002:- After hanging in the sky over the Place de la Concorde for two years, one month and 22 days, the 'Grande Roue de Paris' is nearly gone. Under the threat of heavy fines, the operator, Marcel Campion, has had little choice but to have it dismantled.

Apparently the operator is conducting negotiations with the city for its sale. He wants a certain high price for it, but the city has pointed out that it has largely if not entirely paid for itself - and besides, it's used.

Well sure, but not 'used' much. But he couldn't get the Minister of Culture interested in it for a placement within the Tuileries, and nobody has stepped forward from Dubai or the Puy-du-Fou to offer 3,810,000euro 3 sign for it, so...

So, maybe the city will take it off his hands and put it in its park at Bercy or in the Andre Citroën park - or maybe it should be out at La Villette, near the shiny Gëode? But there's no reason for the city to be in a hurry, or even to appear especially interested.

McDo Hires National Hero Asterix

According to a BBC report forwarded by Alan 'Is It True?' Pavlik, McDonalds' French unit fired its professional fictional clown Ronald McDonald and replaced him with the midget French hero Asterix recently, without informing the daily Le Parisien.

By associating itself with France's favoritephoto: art squat, rue rivoli ultra-Gaul, the multinational operator hopes to deflect attention away from its worldwide 'one burger fits all' image, which is also called 'globalization' or, in French, 'mondialisation.'

The astonishing aspect of this switch, which only applies to France, is that France's 'anti-globalization' hero José Bové resembles the comic character, Asterix, or vice-versa.

Yes folks, here is the Rivoli 'art squat,' still competing with all the neighboring commerce.

And, Mr. Bové has just been handed a hard-time prison term by a court for the 'deconstruction' of a McDonalds unit that was under construction in central France.

Meanwhile the fastfood giant has been having other labor problems at four of its outlets in Paris. A court has decided that it fired three employees without good cause and has ordered their reinstatement at the Boulevard Saint-Denis outlet - effectively concluding a three-month strike there.

McDonalds had also charged the employees with stealing 150,000 euros but the labor relations court didn't agree with this, and proposed fining the firm 153.45euro 3 sign per day until the employees are reinstated. McDonalds has indicated it will appeal this decision.

The other locations where employees are periodically on strike are at Beaugrenelle, the Champs-Elysées and the Boulevard Saint-Germain, near the Boulevard Saint-Michel.

The BBC report also says MacDonalds is switching its offshore strategy to 'think global, act local.' Apparently thinking real hard has also coined a new term, 'glocalisation,' which sounds like something hard to swallow.

There have been no labor-conflict reports about Ronald McDonald's sudden sacking. The BBC misses the point when it says this character is a 'cartoony' equivalent of Asterix, with little more than some appeal for kids.

While we all know that Asterix is a French fiction, we also know that José Bové is not - and he is not for sale either.

Yves Saint-Laurent Quits Thread Biz

Paris' fashion week was overshadowed by the man who overshadowed himself last week at the Pompidou Centre with a runway show spanning several decades, featuring creations that were first strutted down runways in the mid-'60s.

This rétro-show took place in front of an audience or a fan club, seemingly composed of dozensphoto: fall in love, tea, mariage freres of ladies dressed mostly in black - this was a 'rétro-show' remember? - with 300 costumes, 200 models, and Bernadette Chirac, the well-dressed wife of the Président.

All of Paris that likes to dress up and can afford it, were invited. Meanwhile, outside on the cool pavement the show unrolling in the interior was projected onto a giant screen for the fans of spectacles and passing visitors who like 'frou-frou.'.

Only in Paris can tea merchants be mistaken for perfume dealers.

The 'maison' Saint-Laurent is scheduled to close in June. The day after the 'rétro' show, clients stormed the main salon in the Avenue Marceau in the vain hopes of getting in a last order.

There actually is a new collection for spring-summer 2002, at prices ranging from 30,000 to 150,000euro 3 sign. Beyond these, it is still possible to order some of the less fragile, older but classic models.

You can get a look at some of this in 16 of the display windows of the Galeries Lafayette on the Boulevard Haussmann, where there is a recreation of the haute couture studios on view until Thursday, 21. February.

Your reporter's own collaboration with Yves Saint-Laurent concerned mainly the perfume branch, when it was still owned by Charles-of- the-Ritz. I got to keep all the 'models' I was given to use.

The No 'Toubib' Week that Was

France apparently survived the wave of street demos last week without turning a hair. Severalphoto: teachers demo, thursday ministries are in negotiations with several sections of society and their millions of members - pretty much as usual.

Last Thursday's teachers, getting ready to march to the Opéra.

Turning the clock back a bit, it may be worth reminding you that conflicts that seemed to have ended, may be merely dormant. For example, the gendarmes who won a big pay increase late last year - are seriously wondering where it is.

Some of the labor disagreements will be put on ice shortly, because the Prime Minister indicated over the weekend that he will likely be a candidate in the coming election of the office of President of France - but he has to wait three or four weeks until the legislative period is finished because his current job is being France's Prime Minister.

The Amnesty

In anticipation of the presidential amnesty that the newly elected, or re-elected, president routinely accords by way of a favorable vote by a joyful and elected or re-elected parliament, drivers are busily collecting their parking tickets and holding off on paying the fines.

On the other side of the fence, in anticipation of a possible amnesty, tax collection offices have stepped up their procedures to collect the unpaid fines.

This year they even have a new weapon. The various branches of the Trésor Publique are dipping directly into the bank accounts of illegal parkers and taking what they think is due to them without issuing much in the way of warnings or threats.

Normally it takes six to eight months for dire warnings to be issued by Trésor Publique.

Several of the presidential candidates are opposed to any amnesty, while others are willing to tolerate an amnesty limited to unpaid parking tickets. At this date the Prime Minister has been silent on the subject, while Le Parisien says that the President is being 'evasive.'

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.

Details about trading in old francs for euros appeared in earlier issues. For additional information concerning deadlines for cash, cheques and other tips, hit this link.

Some More Common Euro Prices
  • 1euro 3 sign - is the going rate for two games of pinball
  • 2euro 3 sign - is the going rate for 5 games of pinball
  • 8842.05euro 3 sign - is what a new Renault Twingo will set you back
  • 45.60euro 3 sign - is what an oil change will cost for it
  • 42.25euro 3 sign - is the toll for using the autoroute from Paris to Marseille
  • 5.15euro 3 sign - for a 'menu' of a burger, frites, with a medium coca
  • 6.70euro 3 sign - might be the price of a cinema ticket
  • 0.80euro 3 sign - is what a copy of Le Parisien will cost on a weekday
  • 30.00euro 3 sign - will get you a snazzy French toaster

The above figures represent 'about' prices, gathered from a booklet printed before reality set in. Expect prices to be slightly above or below in real life.

Paris Public Transport - In Euros

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

  • 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
  • 5euro 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.'
Internet Life

I don't know why, but the folks who work for Alain Ducasse decided I needed a New Years card. For being this thoughtful, it is probably worth mentioning that Monsieur Ducasse seems to have a cooking school about which I know absolutely nothing. Bonne Année!

It is winter in the mountains somewhere outside of Paris. If the northern Alps area seems tempting, you can find out more about them from the Alps-Sensations Web site.

For general high-altitude thrills, I think Hiver.Com has had plugs here in past years, without them ever sending me a New Years card to ensure that I put one in this year.

Winter Weather Alerts

This service from our friends at France-Météo gives warnings about near-term violent weather that might 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.

On the mountain front, you should be aware that this year's crop of snow is not plentifulphoto: bookshop, rue grands augustins so far. According to TV-news reports, avalanches are just waiting to happen to those they haven't already happened to. 'No-go' areas are 'no-go.'

Paris, with its ample 15 degrees and generally light breezes does not 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.

Ah, browsing in bookshops - where is my almanac?

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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