horz line

What About Us?

photo, forum, les halles

The Forum des Halles under gray.

Buy Your i–TGV Online

Paris:– Monday, 18. October 2004:– The government handled fishermen protesting about the hikes in fuel prices by letting them block ports for two days, and then gave them some ease. No great deal of time passed before farmers were using their tractors to form blockades edging toward refineries. Their reward was a price reduction of a few cents.

Next the truckers started their escargot races, and taxi drivers joined in. On Saturday barge captains staged a demonstration in the Seine by heading three abreast upstream and tooting their horns at all the bridges. On Thursday all deep–water shipping may be affected.

The price of gas has gone up a lot ofphoto, restaurant dut percents in a year, for everybody. But the government sees no reason to – to give relief? – to Monsieur et Madame Georges Tout–Le–Monde.

Instead the wizards in the Ministry of Finance are blowing the dust off some old plans lying around unused since the 'oil–shocko' in the '70s. Maybe if everybody drove a little slower? Maybe if everybody switched to biogas overnight?

Eats palace near Les Halles.

It has taken the opposition parties and consumers in general more time than you'd think possible to start suggesting that maybe the government could ease its petrol tax a bit. After all, there's the rising price of crude, and the tax floats on top, rising proportionally.

Colder weather has made householders think of filling their oil tanks. Domestic fuel is 31 percent higher this year than last, making a delivery of 3000 litres a deep–pocket item. Air France is on the edge of its third price hike this year. All the tour operators are affected and their catalogues have surprise prices.

Economists have already noticed that the French are saving less. The next step will be that they have less to spend on Christmas, on food and on clothes. When the French spend less, they pay fewer taxes.

So, it is only supposed to be a matter of time before the government is forced to do its sums and come to the conclusion that if it gives up a bit of gas tax it will keep on getting all of its other taxes – and consumers will be happier.

Biogas is supposed to contribute five percent to France's fuel needs, between now and 2020. My guess is that Monsieur Sarkozy will be announcing a 'cadeau' for consumers pretty soon – before he leaves Bercy next month for the post of president of the UMP party, assuming he will be elected.

Reading the Telephone

If the French,have any money left after they buy a tank of gas, they are spending it on watching cable–TV, telephoning non–stop and surfing endlessly thanks to DSL. This is reported to be hurting sales of magazines.

Even the traditional TV–magazines are suffering. In France some of these are like real magazines – theyphoto, merry go round, les halles are full of words. Apparently everybody is so busy doing everything other than reading, that most people only have time to read the condensed versions. Or they are looking at 'people' magazines, maybe while getting their hair clipped.

At Les Halles, for little folks.

There are more and more magazine titles too. Many sales outlets are tiny kiosks and they just don't have shelf space for what doesn't sell. The free morning newspapers cannibalize sales too. For kiosk operators, the number of magazines containing DVDs is welcome, because these have a fair mark–up.

But all might not be lost. Axel Ganz, the Bertelsmann magician who introduced several new successful titles to France, is reported to be supporting a serious monthly, 'Paris–Berlin,' on the stands since the beginning of the month.

Fly the Friendly TGV

The SNCF has just announced low air fares for the high–speed rail run between Paris and Toulon on the Mediterranean. With a falling part of the market the train guys want to recapture some of the trade from the no–frills airlines.

Beginning on Wednesday, 17. November the SNCF will be offering 2nd–class one–way tickets for 19€, and first–class for 39€. The first TGV train accepting these cheapo tickets will leave the Gare de Lyon on Monday, 6. December.

Like all airfares, these low train fares have their restrictions, or 'exceptions.' The first one is that you can only buy the tickets through the SNCF's Web site. Tickets can be bought four months in advance, but the real price will depend on demand – just like airfares. In fact, the SNCF is using software made for airlines to keep the prices as high as possible for itself.

You have to print the ticket yourself. Once printed, it can't be exchanged. If unprinted it can, but for a little supplement. The ticket doesn't have to be punched, it is supposed to have its barcode 'read.' Trainphoto, poster, images du monde flottant, grand palais controllers are not looking forward to this.

Then, the trains will be composed differently. In double–decker wagons, there will be yoga and massages upstairs, and telephone usage will be not permitted downstairs.

This is all called 'i–TGV' and the SNCF hopes you don't mix up with all their other promotional plans like 'Prem's,' '100000 Weekends,' 'Carte Escapade,' or 'big families.' The SNCF's boss says the 'i–TGV' isn't going to be 'de luxe.' If upstairs gets nicknamed 'Studio B' downstairs will probably be called 'F Deck.'

If that's the case, Ryanair has a one–way airfare of 19€ for Paris–Milan or Paris–Gerona, for mid–week flights. Restrictions do apply for these as well, plus there's the airport check–in hassle to keep in mind, plus plus, remembering to bring your own café.

horz line
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini