Jacques Is Running

photo: resto le mondetour, bar, club

Near Les Halles, all the Mondétour lacks is being
open in the afternoon.

While Lionel Waits for 10 Days

Paris:- *LATE* Report:- Tuesday, 12. February 2002:- With 67 whole days left to go until the first round of the national election for Président of France, current Président Jacques Chirac announced his candidature yesterday in Avignon.

The announcement came as no great surprise, although there is a 'tradition' in France to have short official campaigns - as opposed to the unofficial non-stop campaigns that are a way of political life here.

With the Président now in the race along with about a dozen other candidates from the entire political rainbow of red to black, this leaves only current Prime Minister Lionel Jospin left to toss his rose-colored Socialist hat into a crowded ring.

He has already almost said he will do this when the current session of parliament wraps up its business on Friday, 22. February.

France's first presidential election by universal suffrage was in 1965 when Charles Dephoto: wine shop tchin tchin Gaulle was re-elected. Today's Le Parisien doesn't tell me how presidents were elected before this.

Choosing when to declare a candidacy is a decision of byzantine complexity, according to the press - which would seem to prefer a long campaign.

Get your Saint-Valentine's wine here before it is too late.

While candidates without much chance of surviving the first round of voting declare their intentions early, the big hats have their strategies finely honed to extract the maximum impact - which ends up making everything pretty much even.

After weeks of speculation - not about 'if' Jacques Chirac will run again, but about when he will say so - today's Le Parisien still runs an on- the-street mini-survey to ask, 'Were you surprised by the announcement?'

Five out of five voters picked out randomly all reply, 'no.' Some said he was a candidate anyway and one other said he had been campaigning 'for seven years.'

Actually, Jacques Chirac has been campaigning for the office of Président of France for 21 years - since Tuesday, 3. February 1981, when he came out against Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the sitting Président, and François Mitterrand.

As sitting Prime Minister at the time, he announced his intentions again on Saturday, 16. January 1988. He got ahead of Raymond Barre in the first round on 24. April but lost to François Mitterrand in the second, on Sunday, 8. May.

In 1994 Jacques Chirac announced his candidacy very early and squeaked into the second round on 23. April 1995 with a lead over his right-wing competitors. Then he went on to win 52.6 percent of the vote in the second-round runoff against Lionel Jospin on 7. May.

Although this was before 'Metropole Paris' began publication in February of 1996, I did reports for 'The Paris Pages,' which included witnessing Président Chirac's delirious election night victory tour of Paris and the following solemn ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe.

With the announcement arriving from a RPR confab in Avignon around noon yesterday, the news was celebratedphoto: traction headlight by the RPR's faction at Paris' Hôtel de Ville. City party leader Philippe Séguin had taken the precaution of putting Champagne on ice early, and the joy was so vast that a bottle of Petrossian's cherry vodka went down too.

No Rétromobile week is complete without some part of a 'Traction' in it.

Left-wing 'green' candidate Noël Mamière characterized the announcement as a 'non-event' and extreme-left candidate Arlette Laguiller said it 'ended a fake-suspense,' adding that now voters will hear all the promises that won't be kept.

What the ultra-right-wing's Jean-Marie Le Pen is quoted as having said might be libelous, as well as rude. Basically he is angry because Jacques Chirac will not admit he has ever met him.

While France waits for the Socialist's Lionel Jospin to declare his intentions, the country can attend campaign meetings organized for Jean-Pierre Chèvenement, who is positioning himself as a moderately left-wing capital 'R' republican and is currently picking up in the polls - which seems to be an elusive goal for all of the right-wing's pretenders to be the 'third man.'

This mystery person has been created by the political calculation that the mainstream right-wing is stained by a cascade of corruption affairs, and that Chirac and Jospin will cancel each other out - leaving the way clear for a 'third man' to save the day. So far there have been several self-declared versions of this consensus candidate.

But after France's acceptance of the euro, the days of engaging a majority of French voters with the notions of national and traditional republicanism, seem to point to the unlikelihood of its resurgence.

This is reinforced by France's all too obvious inclusion in the ongoing European Union of countries, which seems to be leading increasingly towards lesser amounts of traditional nationalism.

It will be interesting to hear what the candidates have to say - if they have anything to say on the subject - about where they see France heading at this beginning of the Third Millennium.

Info About Euros

There is now less than a week to go until the euro will replace the franc completely in France. You can say goodbye to francs on Sunday, 17. February.

All prices within the euro-zone countries in Europe are now posted in euros, just as if you arephoto: bar du commerce visiting one foreign country with a bunch of different names - all having a common currency you have never seen before if you aren't from any euro-zone country.

The Café du Commerce has been in the 'euro-zone' since the beginning of the year.

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. For some common 'euro' prices, see the 'Au Bistro' columns in recent issues.

Internet Life

At the Café de Flore

Another Web URL has been received from Alan Pavlik who claims he lives in the Paris area of Hollywood, California - but seems to live non-stop 'virtually' in the Paris region of France, especially in the Saint- Germain-des-Prés quartier of it. He writes:-

"Last month I came across the Café de Flore on the Web. The site is just what you think. And it has many layers. The menu and prices are there of course, and a history.

"You ought to click on the 'Album du Flore' for the historical photographs. The usual suspects are there - Juliette Gréco and Jacques Prévert of course, and a photograph of 'Le Pape J. Paul II' passing the terrace in one of his 'Popemobiles' - and Hollywood folks including Lauren Bacall and the singer Tina Turner. These old photographs are a real giggle. If your computer has sound there's music too. Not great music, but it's there."

Hunc & Nic News from Essonne

While Alan hangs out at the Flore hoping to see somebody famous from Hollywood, some folks in the Essonne department south of Paris are proposing all sorts of news, weather and sports, plus French Lit., crossword puzzles, and the arts - on their oddly named 'Hic & Nunc News.' The burning questions of the day are also treated - such as 'Who Will Become Président In 2002?' While in Essonne, try putting 'Cadillac Ranch' into their search function.

Winter's Downhill Re-Runs

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

Warnings about impending 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 a rudder or up a snowy mountain without a scarf - are provided by a service from our friends at France-Météo.

You are supposed to use this service before you get into situations you won't want to be in. Using it afterwards will not help you at all.

Paris, with its amply warm degrees and generally light breezes does not qualify as an 'extreme weather' area. It is not even an exciting weather area. The alert service is mainly forphoto: ferrari panamerica northern, central, mountainous, eastern, Atlantic coast and southern areas of France that occasionally have more extreme weather than the Ile-de-France region.

Italian car made for road-racing in America - on view at Rétromobile.

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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