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Just as it was Canada's fault for the blackout in the United States in August, now it might by France's fault for the blackout in Italy during the 'Notte Bianca.'poster: week of foreign cultures

But this is not actually possible because Paris' mayor Bertrand Delanoë was in Rome for the first Notte Bianca at the invitation of his pal, Rome's mayor Walter Veltroni. The two mayors toured the Villa Borghese, the Castel Sant Angelo and the Coliseum.

This is the week for open doors at all of the foreign cultural centres in Paris.

Let's wish Rome better luck next time and turn our attention to Paris' 2nd 'Nuit Blanche,' which begins next Saturday. Last Friday Le Parisien said, 'Be prepared!'

The original concept, imagined by Christophe Girard, in charge of culture at the Hôtel de Ville - was to have an evening of performances in places that are normally closed during the night.

However this was a bit too successful when too many Parisians showed up to 'faire la fête' in locales that were too small for their numbers. So the concept has evolved a bit, to focus more on larger places or places that are more open.

The guides for the night suggest sticking to a quartier - such as near the Bibliothèque Nationale in the 13th arrondissement, where a dozen expos and performances will be concentrated. In all, there will be 110 projects for the night in the city.

And, not because of any expected failure in the electrical supply, France Télécom intends to lend Parisians 250 bikes, while Citroën plans to have 60 cars available to haul hitchhikers around.

The Hôtel de Ville will not be open to the public this year as it was last year, but the mayor has promised that something will be happening for anybody passing by. Aside from being lit up like a birthday cake, at 05:00 Sunday morning baker-artisans of the professional bakers syndicate will be offering warm croissants to all.

Roller Nights Forever

The Friday night roller-rando changed its start location from the Place de l'Italie to the forecourt of the Gare Montparnasse some time ago, but I only got down there to see them take off last Friday even though it's only a five-minute walk away.

The place in front of the station is big enough for several thousand people on wheels - POWs? - without them hindering passing traffic. But at 22:00 in the evening here, it is dark, and it was impossible to tell how many were waiting to roll through the streets for three hours.

Since there were many police cars and ambulances grouped near the Avenue du Maine side, I figured they would roll out there, but couldn't tell which way they'd go - up the avenue or down the Rue du Départ to the boulevard.

Just after 22:00 some signal was given somehow. Led by police motorcycles, the horde poured out on to the avenue and headed uphill towards Alésia. I walked up the opposite sidewalk to the Rue de l'Ouest and waited there for about ten minutes for the tail-end of the roller folks, who were followed by the usual sweep-up crew of ambulances, and what looked like, tow-trucks.

All this time, maybe 20 minutes in all, the surrounding streets were full of Friday-night cars that were stalled until the people-on-wheels, rolled out of their way. The roller wheels make little noise and while some of the participants do shout or sing, the whole crowd is pretty quiet compared to the usual noise of traffic.

Except of course, for the gasoline-crazed automobilistas, who need to blow their horns when stalled, just to be doing something besides listening to their 200-watt stereo radios or illegally babbling on their phones.

WiFi in Paris

Paris may be the world's capital for portable computers with capability to connect to the Internet without wires. Some time ago the RATP said its 'Naxos' unit was going to run a trial by turning its entire line 4 into a high-speed wireless access antenna. Since then more than a dozen other operators have joined in a frenzy of optimism to give the whole city access - with 'Naxos' also equipping Bus 38 and line 11 with antennas.

Many hotels offer the service now, as well as a lot of restaurants - including some McDonald's locations. Onephoto: rollers on maine problem is that there are many operators, each with their own access card. But the operators and the phone companies are apparently discussing the possibility of a unique access card.

Friday night roller frenzy in Paris happens year-round.

For the moment, the big news is that wireless access is available in Le Coupole. With this innovation this old-time brasserie seems to be saying 'adieu' to its past arty clientele in favor of the bobos in the quartier, who want to work while they dine - or hold multi-portable meetings.

So far, according to reports, La Coupole isn't making bundles of money off the service. Maybe it's the wrong brasserie in Montparnasse. The Flo Group that owns the café-monument is watching closely. The service might be more suited to its Vaudeville brasserie next door to the Bourse.
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