Pedestrians Are Dangerous

photo: resto, louis philippe, quai hotel de ville

A handy bistro, near the night-time beach by
the Pont Louis-Philippe.

High Summer Fashion Exclusive

Paris:- Monday, 29. July 2002:- While Paris' heatwave may be of limited duration, it has raised the question of what to wear at sunbathing spots around the city, especially since nearly four kilometres of new beach has been opened to the public.

Actually the fashion news comes from the Riviera, mainly because it is 'in fashion' right now, while the 'left-behinds' in Paris have been caught by surprise - by rare sunshine and new beaches.

For the ladies, Hawaiian patterns on - bikinis, what else? - are 'in' this year, as are fine 'chainettes' slungphoto: climber, paris plage around the hips. Real or fake tatoos are also highly thought of. Perhaps the most essential accessory are sunglasses, and if these cost less than a small car, don't bother.

But if you can't afford the real thing, remember that sunglasses are intended to protect your hair, assuming you have any, and they can be left perched on top, far from your eyes - where the fashion-envious can not see them too well.

The fly-on-wall is really a little kid, on 'Paris Plage.'

While this is pretty standard fare, the fashion people here are determined to make men look like 'dorks.' This requires shrunken-tight shirts from the 70s, and 'pantacourts' - which only reach the calves. A colorful fatigue hat in the style of the Korean War can be completed by rubber flip-flops for the feet.

Almost needless to say, none of this has caught on in Paris. Not yet, but the first wave of southern vacationers has begun returning. Who knows? We may even have another heatwave before September.

Les Piétons en Colère

The Préfecture de Police says that pedestrians are most to blame for traffic accidents to themselves. We do too much jaywalking it seems, and make it impossible for motorists to miss us.

The rules are - only cross streets in crosswalks after looking left then right, only walk when the 'green man' is lit, and stop letting kids play on the sidewalks.

Kids 'playing on the sidewalks' might hinder the scooter messengers who use them to dodge traffic jams or for inconvenient one-way streets. Cars also often park on sidewalks, and might back up over playing kids.

Since a lot of drivers park in the crosswalks at street corners, it seems as of the police mightphoto: golf, 19th hole have gotten the 'rules' a bit wrong. With road traffic taking up 90 percent of thoroughfares, pedestrians are an endangered species in Paris.

The world's only '19th hole' bigger than its golf course.

Looking left and right is vitally important because a lot of drivers habitually run red lights, and they may speed to do so. The new bus lanes sometimes translate into having to cross three or four 'streets' instead of two halves of one - and these sub-streets carry different types of traffic.

Sure, the buses move faster in their own lanes, and so do the hidden taxis and motorcycles that might be following closely behind them.

A group called 'Les Piétons en Colère' staged a mass march down the middle of the Rue de Rennes on Saturday, to Saint-Germain. Although the group only attracted about 50 angry pedestrians, motorists where really annoyed with them and tried to blow them out of the roadway by honking.

Blowing car hours in Paris without reason is against the law, but it is seldom enforced.

Jacques Takes Another Stroll

After receiving the King of Jordan, Abdallah II, at the Elysée Palace for 90 minutes on Friday, at the end of the meeting the Président of France decided to accompany his royal visitor back to his hotel, on foot.

The 200-metre stroll caught journalists who were waiting inside the Elysée for a press conference by surprise, and was something of a surprise to shopkeepers in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which was momentarily blocked to traffic. However, some pressmen are lurkers, so the stroll was captured by excited TV-news crews.

One of the best things about being the Président of France is not having to wait for the 'green man' to cross the street, and having a small army of tall sunglass-wearing security agents as a screen - to fend off lady Mini drivers who need to do some urgent shopping.

The assassination attempt on Bastille Day has caused all sorts of upgrading for the Président's security. It is certainly already planned that the Président will take part in next year's Bastille Day parade, but there will be a thick screen of police between him and the public.

A Little Too Hot?

Two whole days do not a heatwave make, but today's Le Parisien was able to find more Parisians slightly annoyed with the weather yesterday than ones who though it agreeable.

Paris somehow beat all of France for a high of 34 degrees yesterday - about 93 F - and this managed tophoto: visitor info kiosk fill up Paris Plage and every other outside place where it was possible to lie around without moving too much.

Oddly, the paper did not ask any of the Tour de France riders if they minded the heat - but they've been racing in the noonday sun in parts of France that were already warmed up to proper summer temperatures.

One of the new info kiosks for visitors, right in front of the Hôtel de Ville.

Because of the higher than normal temperatures, traffic controllers reduced the maximum speed allowed on fast roads around the city by 20 kph on Sunday. But drivers with new, desmogged, cars suggested that all cars older than theirs should instead be parked.

Today the city announced that all residential parking in Paris would be free, to try and induce drivers to use public transport. All drivers, nevertheless, have some urgent reason for not parking at home.

The buses, they say, are not frequent enough and they are too crowded. By this they mean that the three other close seats are not always empty.

Sports News

The Tour de France Tours Paris

Several hundred thousand bike fans turned out in yesterday's blistering heat to cheer for the 153 'survivors' of this year's Tour de France, which finished in colorful glory on the Champs-Elysées.

Americans present for the huge event helped share the overall win of Texan Lance Armstrong, riding for the US Postal team. The year's 'Tour' marked Armstrong's fourth consecutive victory, which puts him very close to becoming one of the few true larger-than-life giants of bicyledom.

There are only four racers who have won the 'Tour' five times. These are Jacques Anqueil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Armstrong said on TV last night that he would be back next year to try for his fifth victory, asphoto: volley ball, hotel de ville if it were some unfinished business. Given his determination, if he scores a win for the fifth, he will take a shot at an unique sixth win.

The beach-ball is so close to the Hôtel de Ville that the mayor can throw paper airplanes at it.

Equally acclaimed was Laurent Jalabert, wearing the red-pea shirt to the finish, who was participating in his last 'Tour' after a 14-year career as a professional bicycle racer. Fans made huge signs with the word, 'JAJA' on them, painted in any kind of red.

Armstrong seemed a bit emotional as the US anthem was played while he was on the victor's podium. His team, US Postal, finished the race in the leading position and its member riders will share a pot of 444,667euro 3 sign.

The Spanish team Once came in second, the Italian team Lampre were third, and Jalabert rode for the fourth place CSC team.

Richard Virenque, who was at the centre of the dope scandal two years ago, finished his 10th 'Tour' with one stage victory, having been the quickest to climb the difficult Mont Ventoux. Throughout this year's race he was treated with respect by the press.

But Armstrong was so - strong , so consistently - that some overexcited bike fans shouted 'dopé!' at him as he was catching up to Virenque on the way to the summit of Ventoux. In an interview at the top, he said that if he had a dollar for every time somebody shouted 'dopé' at him, he would be really rich.

The three week-long bike race is a time trial. Armstrong, who won only four of the 20 stages, but finished with an overall time of 82 hours, five minutes and 12 seconds. This elapsed time led second-place finisher Beloki of Spain's Once team by two minutes and five seconds.

Lance Armstrong expects to continue competition - for a few more years at least - but refuses to say that he will win a 5th or 6th Tour de France. As far as some detractors are concerned, he does not think the Tour de France is a popularity contest either.

If so, it seemed as if he came in an very close second to France's Laurent Jalabert yesterday, which was as popular as it is possible to get yesterday.

Internet Life

Spam Funnies

France has a watchdog unit that makes sure nobody gets up to any funny stuff on the 'Net. Somebody must have complained about spam emails, because the CNIL - which stands for 'Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés' - has charged one of its watchers with taking care of these complaints.

The CNIL has offered an email address that you are supposed to forward your spam to, so that the government organization can 'do something' about the perpetrators.

But the info newsletter 'Internet-Actu-Alerteur' says this is pretty funny because the CNIL seems to think it is merely going to have to deal with spam of French origin - somewhat along the lines of the well known 'France-wide Internet.'

With this in mind, we are invited to send our daily take of 10 spam emails to the guardian. Even if it is only 10, the poor guy charged with this mission is going to be working 24 hours a day, which means his legal workweek will be finished after a day and a half.

The Mac-info newsletter TidBITS ran a snap poll last week, asking its readers to indicate how many spam emailsphoto: cafe on the plage they are getting. Not claiming any scientific accuracy, 31 percent of the respondents reported they got more than 100 spam emails per week. Note that this exceeds the CNIL's reporting limit of 70.

One of the outdoor cafés at 'Paris Plage.'

Roughly, TidBITS said, half of the poll respondents receive between 20 and 100 spam messages a week. An Internet user like Metropole gets spam, but I've given up counting by numbers, and count by kilobytes instead. By not counting the darned real and phoney 'attachments' too, the daily total can be more than 200 Ko. An average legitimate email is usually between two and four Ko.

TidBITs estimates spam has increased tenfold within the last two years. Let's hope that France's CNIL is really serious about going after the spam merchants. To avoid needless overkill, I will not include its dedicated email address here.

During-the-Summer Weather Warnings

Paris has never been a thrilling weather area, but summer is here and boring weather may be good news. Little reason then, to pay attention to France- Météo's warnings unless you are somewhere else in France.

France-Météo's alert service is mainly for northern, central, mountainous, eastern, western Atlantic coast, all types of southern and offshore areas of France - that occasionally or regularly, have more extreme - sometimes dangerous weather, than the Ile-de-France region.

If you are curious or want to know more about France's so-called late spring weather, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. Check out the warning-prone 'Vigilance-Météo' area on the opening page.

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