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France Picks Its Nose

photo, luxembourg, sunday

Thousands of sun worshipers jam Luxembourg on Sunday.

Strange Smell?

Paris:– Monday, 21. March 2005:– The hit British TV reality show 'Great Brits' has been given a Gallic scent of garlic, amusing offshore news organizations somewhat more than the French, who have seldom wondered who among them is most popular national hero because Charles de Gaulle snared the top spot between periods of being a traitor and the ex–President of France.

Despite the heavy advance promotion by France–2 TV for last Monday night's 'Le plus grand Françaisphoto, balloon, parc andre citroen, saturday de tous les temps,' I easily managed not to watch it. I have nothing against diverting television entertainment but normal French TV is usually too silly to be diverting, even though veteran host Michel Drucker is not a total jerk.

Try the Parc André Citroën for skyhigh balloon rides.

For Monday's amusement he was back–stopped by Thierry Ardisson, who used to pretend to drink jars of whisky in the Palace disco on Saturday night TV. Thierry now looks like he's being groomed to take over from Michel who is probably getting tired of doing 38 variety shows a week. At any rate both of these TV personalities got on the top 100 list too.

To compound my error, I failed to read Le Parisien's account of the show on Tuesday. The sun was shining on the terrace of the Raspail Vert café when I looked at the paper, but I had neglected to bring my specs and read the wonderful weather forecast maps instead even though it was happening at the time.

It was the Wednesday post from Alan Pavlik to hisJust Above Sunset that alerted me to the Brit interest in this matter. First off, I don't think the French are 'baffled' – Le Parisien often says the French are baffled by this or that, but most French only become aware of their bafflement by reading the paper.

Brits are, of course, fascinated by heros. For their TV show they picked Winston Churchill as their top of the tops hero 'of all time.' It must have been a difficult decision considering all the world–class scoundrels they have to chose from.

The French are constantly being polled so they have become accomplished liars. According to the official history surrounding this affair, exactly 1038 of them were asked to pick their 'top heros' lastphoto, pont alexandre September. Fortunately 2076 names were proposed, so that a master list of 100 major personalities could be composed and from this the top ten were selected, to be put in numerical order from one to ten, somehow.

Or stroll along the Seine's quays.

The official history says that somebody will vote for the top ten, while documentaries are shown, one at a time, on this 11–episode TV show. Various personalities will be on hand to champion their heros, so the whole thing will be vastly entertaining, or diverting at least.

That Jules Verne outpolled Bonaparte tells us something vital about the French that baffles the Brits. The first football hero on the list – Zinedine Zidane, true hero! – is preceded by singer–composer Serge 'Gitanes' Gainsbourg and followed by Charlemagne, Lino Ventura, François Mitterrand, Gustave Eiffel, and Emile Zola. Trust the French to have a German and an Italian in their top 100 list.

The dead Yves Montand tops the living Johnny Hallyday but Brigitte Bardot – still with us – trumps lit guys de Maupassant, Dumas, Balzac and Verlaine. Same thing happens between the dead François Mitterrand and the living president, Jacques Chirac. Near the bottom, the goat smelling – according to the Brits – Jean–Paul Sartre scores slightly ahead of the living Catherine 'Like Roses' Deneuve, who in turn is two places ahead of Gérard 'The Mogul' Depardieu.

But all of these are also–rans. The top ten list, alphabetically, runs like this: Abbé Pierre, Bourvil, Coluche, Jacques–Yves Cousteau, Marie Curie, Charles de Gaulle, Victor Hugo, Molière, Louis Pasteur and Edith Piaf.

The good Abbé has been campaigning for an improvement in housing conditions for thephoto, brass band, sunday French since 1947, and to judge by what he says every December, housing here is still in a sorry state. I only mention this as an example proving that a French hero need not be successful or rich, and it is not strictly necessary to only have one name.

Sunshine bands were playing all over town.

The main problem with choosing one 'true hero' from the top ten list is that the other 90 candidates are excluded. This is at odds with French democracy, which usually stipulates that elections have two rounds – one to get rid of the riff–raff, and the final when the knives come out.

For another example, there is Louis XIV sitting at place number 50, exactly halfway between one and 100. Famous for building Versailles because he was scared of the Parisians, famous for his toilet, famous for living a long time and getting taxes collected on time, Louis 'Le Roi Soleil' Bourbon was a very big hat in French history. Too bad we can't vote for him.

As for the ten above, you may be able to vote too. The polls are now open for 'Le plus grand Français de tous les temps.'

What's that Smell?

While Americans continue to enjoy their 'Freedom Fries' and express general support for securing oil imports from 'willing' Middle East countries, Christophe Oudelin scouts fast–food outlets and offers to take their used deep–fry oil off their hands, which he re refines for use as car gas.

After years of experimentation and the skillful modification of his Peugeot 405 diesel, it now runs prettyphoto, fiat 500 good on fillups of recycled sunflower seed oil. He explained to APF that he filters it twice to get rid of fish bones, grease and wax.

The 'Fiat 500 of the Week' might run on frite juice too.

The only problem is that the oil must be pre–heated in winter, and the special setup requires another fuel pump. He said that mileage is good and the resulting power is better than with diesel. The slight odor of frites 'is not disagreeable,' he maintained.

He told the newspaper 'La Provence' about his new fuel last week. With some friends he formed a group called 'Roule Ma Frite' to promote the new gas, which pollutes less than unleaded super or diesel. The group travels around to local fairs and salons for 'eco-energy' – partly to pick up more used cooking oil. Monsieur Oudelin hopes that the buses in Marseille will begin using his fuel. Paris' mayor Bertrand Delanoë has not expressed himself yet.

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