Booking a hotel? Stroll through the yellow pages first
You probably know the feeling: want to book a hotel in e.g. Parijs and you find something comfortable with nice pictures on a website. Just one question: in what kind of neighbourhood is it.
To find the answer, just stroll through the Yellow Pages, the Pages Jaunes. Just type an adress in Paris or 13 other cities and have a virtual tour.
The option Ville en direct offers city maps, weather forecasts and webcams from lots of towns.
Posted by Peter at 08:35 AM [What do you think?]
Pee for free in Paris
Having a drink in Paris is expensive enough, so it's ashame yoy must pay too for bringing it away later. But hey, the city of Paris sees your point. It has made 36 public toilets available for free already. No, these are not squatters, these are modern, selfcleaning installations
Now that's good, but 36 toilets in this huge cuity with its many tourists isn't much. The TF1 tv-stations now announces Paris is negotiating with a private company that runs over 400 public toilets to make their toilets free too. The city is willing to pay. The bill goes to those people that still pee in the wild. You're easily fined to 170 euro. If you're caught before, the fine raises till 450 euro.
By the way, good news for the disabled. New public toilets in Paris will be accessible for wheelchairs.
Posted by Peter at 08:34 AM [What do you think?]
Concrete ski resort is now a monument
French ski resorts are notorious for their huge, concrete, gray buildings. That's not a reputation the French like, so they desperately try to change it. According to the Dutch association Tourpress they have declared Les Arcs officially national cultural heritage. Is Les Arcs that special? Yes, the French say, because Les Arcs was designed by architect Charlotte Perriand. Perriand learned from and worked withe (off all people) the world famous mater of concrete buildings Le Corbusier. She realized she had to to something impossible: accomodating mass tourism in the mountain nature. Rather then destroying huge areas with small buildings, she choose huge buildings with curved lines that went reasonably well with the mountains.
The Centre Pompidou in Paris has an exhibition showing all her works till march 27th. The site offers a small movie about the design and construction of Les Arcs.
Foto: ©Arnal Predotti
Posted by Peter at 07:52 AM [What do you think?]
A french jail is no fun
French jails are no places to stay for fun. Being in french jails for several years is terrible. Having the aids virus in a french jail means a nearly complete lack of care. You most certainly will never leave this place alive.
A few months ago, we mentioned France being condemned by the European Commissioner for Human Rights for the conditions in prisons.
Now the Nouvel Observateur opens its pages to Laurent Jacqua, a story that raises serious doubts about the french system. Jacqua was attacked by some skinheads when he was 18. He fought back. One of the skinheads died; Jacqua was condemned for manslaughter. When he came free without education, he 'managed' to survive by armed robberies and was condemned to prison again. Now he's got aids.
Nobody believes he's going to live long enough to walk out of the prison; he's sentenced till 2021. He's written a book: The prison as guillotine.
Posted by Peter at 07:53 AM [What do you think?]
Twelve years prison for forest fire raiser
For those who still don't know causing forest fires is a serious crime: : Stéphane Audibert, hunter and former fireman, has been condemned twelve years in prison for raising a forest fire in 2003 in the Cote d'azur region, Reuters reports. Ten firemen were wound when fighting the blaze, that destroyed 2.000 hectares of woods.
L'Humanité tells the story behind. Audibert, a not very smart man that was already sacked by the fire department for stealing, should have raised the fire out of revenge to a hunters club he once belonged to. The man himself denies. His friends say it's impossible that he's guilty. His hunting license was his only diploma. He loved the forest far to much to destroy it.
Posted by Peter at 08:05 AM [What do you think?]
Avalanches kill 5 people
During the last days, there's fallen a lot of snow in the french Alps. No fun for skiing people however, the France 2 tv-station reports. Avalanches killed 5 people, skiing off-piste. Some of them carried avalanche informers, so called arvas, in vain. One of them was found dead only 25 minutes after the avalanche.
Posted by Peter at 07:15 AM [What do you think?]
While the Dutch this year celebrate Rembrandt, mainly in Holland but also in Paris the french have their own master painter to celebrate. This year 100 years ago Paul Cézanne died.
Cézanne wasn't always honoured. He was refused for the art academy in Paris. Later the Paris establishment again and again and again refused his work for the famous Paris art salons.
The place to be for Cézanne 2006 is is natuurlijk Aix-en-Provence, where he was born, lived most of his life and died. Of course, tere are lots of exhibitions and cultural events. More important, two places where the Master of Aix lived and worked will be opened to the public for the first time ever. So you might visit La bastide du Jas de Bouffan, where he lived and worked for 40 years. the same for the quarry of Bibémus, where he made work that would lead others to cubism.
For some years already Cézannes Atelier des Lauves is open for vistors. Over here, you can learn to paint in the masters atmosphere. INext to the cathedral of Aix is a tiny Cézanne museum.
Posted by Peter at 07:41 AM [What do you think?]
Street name 'honouring' pickpockkers
Strolling through the second arrondissement in Paris, just north of the Seine in the heart of the city, you might find yourself in a tiny street with a special name: de Rue Vide-Gousset. In English: Pickpockets Street. That's not a tribbute,, but a warning for criminals. Around 1700 tjis street was so notorious for pickpockers activities, people decided to rename the street into Pickpockers Street. The city of Paris states some comedian must have renamed the street in 1770 to Rue Terray, after the minister of finances in these days. In 1839 the street still was so notorious, that artist Honoré Daumier made a lithograph of a pickpockets victim on the Rue Vide-Gousset.
Nowadays there's no information about the presence of pickpockets. As a matter of fact, that's not entirely true. You might go out to dine At the Pickpocket.
Posted by Peter at 07:25 AM [What do you think?]
A casino is no source of money
The casino Vichy Grand Café may be situated in the Park of the Sources in Vichy, to its guests it's certainly not a source of money. Jean-Philippe Bryk discovered it, losing 687.000 euro in eight years. Bryk, jobless and without a penny now, went to court to get his money back, accusing the gambling house of abuse of his addiction.
Tv-station TF1 yesterday announced the claim was made in vain. The casino could not be held responsible for excessive gambling.
Posted by Peter at 07:43 AM [What do you think?]
Trip to Paris? Check the pollution first...
Like a trip to Paris. Sure, that's fun. But weight, beforeyou hurry to your travel agent or jump in your car. Check the air pollution first...
That's not a weird thing, because Paris is not only a marvellous city, but sometimes is a stinking city too. Good thing there is Airparif, telling us exactly how good or bad the air quality is yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In general, the air quality in Paris is getting better, Le Monde read in Airparif's annual report. However, getting better is by far not enough. The situation is far worse then allowed by European rules.
Posted by Peter at 07:38 AM [1 reaction]
Motorway Bordeaux-Lyon nearly finished
Traditionally in France, Paris is the center of everything. So railways and roads form stars whith the city of light as a bright heart.
Slowly, this is changing. For example, The French are building a motorway from Bordeaux to Clermont-Ferrand, that already had a highway to Lyon. In the past days, huge sections of this motorway A89 have been opened for traffic, leaving only ten kilometres (7 miles) unfinished.
That's good news for those who didn't plan their holidays and here the wheater at the other side of France is much better.
Posted by Peter at 07:56 AM [What do you think?]
Los your drivers license? So what?
the amount of people caught driving whithout drivers license has triplified in 2005. According to journal Le Figaro, this is a result of the rapidly increasing amount of speed controls. As a result, many French loose their licenses, but they don't seem to bother.
Posted by Peter at 08:42 AM [1 reaction]
Late party for Jules Verne
Last year was Jules Verne year, because 100 years ago the famous writer died. There were of course lots of festivities. Surprisingly, in the towered house in Amiens where the writer of 'Around the world in 80 days'and 'From the earth to the moon' lived for 18 years, there was no time for parties. People over there were just working very hard to restaurate the house and restyle the expositions to give it a real Verne-atmosphere.
Now, the work is nearly done. On march 25th, The Jules Verne House will reopen. When in the top of the tower, don't forget to enjoy the view at the , one of the last stone circus theatres in France
Posted by Peter at 08:00 AM [What do you think?]
Johnny Hallyday wants to be Belgian
Johnny Hallyday, national rock star in France for ages, is back in the news. He's a free man in a sex scandal, according to the Libération journal. A hostess on his yaught accused him of abuse. French justice can find no evidence at all.
More shocking to the French is an emission of RTL radio, claiming Johnny has made a claim for the Belgian nationality. To get it, te son of a French mother and a Belgian father has to give up his French nationality. It's important enough for the French minister of culture to state that for him, the rock-star will be French for ever.
RTL can only imagine one reason why someone like Hallyday should want to be a Belgian: taxes.
Posted by Peter at 07:42 AM [2 reactions]
An abby for cave-men
Plenty of old abbeys in France, but the one in Saint-Roman de l'Aiguille is a very special one. It's supposed to be the only abbey made by cave-men.
Eh, cave-men? Didn't they live long before the idea of monasteries came up? Well, not in this case. This abbey was not built on a rock, but cut out in a limestone rock by ermits. They buried their death in the ground above their heads.
From the 5th till the 15th century, this rock was full of monastery life. Later, the church lost its interest in the primitive monastery. Some families bought the rock, but by the 19th century was left empty.
Nowadays you can visit the cave-men abbey, if you are prepared to climb a small trail for some 15 minutes. You will be rewarded with a magnificient view over the Rhone valley between Avignon and Arles.
Posted by Peter at 10:30 AM [What do you think?]
No Big Brother for young drivers
Young Fench drivers will not have to install a black box with gps transmitter in their cars. The system should enable insurance companies to check their young customers for speeding every two minutes. Their driving is so dangerous, some companies charge them double fees now.
However, according to Le Figaro the government has forbidden the Big Brother project. It's out of proportions, it says. Apart from that, data about criminal facts should not be in hands of private companies.
The insurance companies now wil wait for results from simular projects in the UK and Italy.
Posted by Peter at 07:59 AM [What do you think?]
New visitors counter
Since the foundation of this site on august 7th, 2000, more then a million visitors were counted by the counter of Nedstat (which is renamed into Webstats4U by now). Unfortunately, the new owners of Webstats4U have a nasty habit of displaying aggresive popups. Lots of citicism did not change their mind.
So, we have replaced the counterFrom now on, to view our stats, click on the total number of visitors at the bottom of the page.
The old stats can still be seen here. Nearly all of the last total amount of visitors was added to the new counter.
Posted by Peter at 08:21 PM [What do you think?]
Watchmaker pays for Marie-Antoinettes cottage
It's nearly nothing compared to the gradiose palace of Versailles: the Petit Trianon nothing more then a cottage in the palace gardens. Nevertheless the French queen Marie-Antoinette loved living here in the 15 years before the revolution. Here she could escape from the severe protocol of the French court.
Nowadays the Petit Trianon is in such a bad condition, that most of it can not be visitedBut that will change, Le Figaro reports. Watchmaker Breguet is paying millions of euros for the restauration.
Breguet isn't just an ordinary watchmaker. Marie-Antoinette in fact was the first royal, loyal customer of the company's founder. She even asked for a Breguet after the revolution, when she waited for the guillotine in jail. The watchmakers website claims the brutish revolutionaries indeed gave her a watch, although it was only a modest one.
Posted by Peter at 08:06 AM [What do you think?]
To believe and to believe makes two
To believe and to believe are different things. That's the conclusion by the Nouvel Observateur based on an inquiry among 18.000 frenchmen. Nearly 25 percent of the people answered they didn't belong to a specific religious group. But 34 percent of these men and women do really think that there is 'something' after dieing. Twentyone percent of those 'non-believers' do believe God exists. Twentytwo percent believes in miracles.
Sixtyfour percent of all frenchemen say they are member of the Roman catholic Church. Other christians, muslims and jews together make nine percent.
Posted by Peter at 07:50 AM [What do you think?]
Some people allways use the car
Snow is there to ski, ice is there to skate. Just enjoy the fresh air. Some people don't like that. They want to use their cars whatever they do. So, they decided to race with cars on ice- and snowtracks in French ski resorts.
Next weekend, the participants in the Trophée Andros will start in Isola 2000. In the following weeks they will race in Villard de Lans, Serre Chevalier and Clermont-Ferrand.
Don't think the racers are just some foolish dare-devils. Among them is Frenchmen Alain Prost, well known for winning the world championship Formula 1 four times. The car he's driving now is very modest compared to a Formula 1: it's just a small Toyota.
Posted by Peter at 07:53 AM [What do you think?]
Discrimination by nature lovers
Excitement among bird watchers in the french region of Poitou-Charentes, tv-station France 3 reports. In a nature reserve on the tourist island of Ile de Ré, suddenly some 63 sacred ibis have made their appaerance. Now this bird, that was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians in the time of the faraos, find their home in the middle of Africa. According to France 3 their ancestors have escaped from a zoo longtime ago.
Turns out escaping was not difficult, Dutchman Michel Klemann discovered in a french brood bird atlas. The first twenty ibis were bought for the show by the zoo of Branféré (Brittany) in 1976, but they were left in complete freedom. Now, the birds seem to consider the zoo as their home, but they do go out on a regular basis. They even have been seen around the Spanish border.
So the appaerance of the birds at Ile the Ré is no wonder. Then why the excitement by nature friends? Well, the reserve is crowded by American swamp crawfish. As the name says, this animal doesn't belong in France. So it's a good thing the sacred ibis loves to eat it...
Posted by Peter at 07:41 AM [What do you think?]
The phyllodactyle hunts in the dark
The French call it a phyllodactyle, sounding scaring much dino-like. In English it's called a European Leaf-toed Gecko which sounds a bit better. In fact, at night it hunts for small spiders and scorpions, making it a really friendly guy.
We caught the 3 inches animal at the website of the Federation for the general interest of the Calanques, strange group of govermental bodies, private associations and land-owners with a common goal: the Calanques of marseille must get the status of national park. That's the only way to preserve this spectucalar nature area.
On the site you can support this goal, but you also find the rules that already apply to human behaviour in this vulnerable region. Last but not least, there's of course plenty of pictures.
For those who get the taste: there even are more pictures at Calanques Marseille. But the best way to get an impression is seeing for your self. Hike and sail!
Posted by Peter at 07:42 AM [What do you think?]
Rembrandt in Paris
2006 is the year of the Dutch master painter Rembrandt. It's exactly 400 years ago, the master born in the city of Leiden, as a son of the miller Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn.
As far as I know, Rembrandt had no connections with France. However, in Paris at least 4 exhibitions will be dedicated to the painter. Or better, to the etcher. The Dutch Institute in the Rue de Lille will expose lots of etchings by Rembrandt. Successively, it pays attention to Rembrandt and the bible, Rembrandt and landscapes, Rembrandt and the people around him and Rembrandt and women.
The etchings of Rembrandt to be exposed in this Paris building is not suprising. They are from the collection of a Dutch art collector, who happened to be the founder of the Dutch Institute in Paris too.
Posted by Peter at 07:21 AM [What do you think?]
A fireworks tradition in France
France has no fireworks tradition on newyearseve, I wrote yesterday. Well, that's not entirely true, Le Figaro corrects, allthough it isn't exactly traditional firework. For 25 years now, youth in the suburbs of the big cities has a habit of setting cars afire in newyearseve. It wasn't as bad as in the november riots, but nevertheless 425 cars were destroyed.
Posted by Peter at 10:32 PM [What do you think?]
Best wishes for 2006
Our best wishes for the new year.
Pour nos amis en France: Les meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année!
Posted by Peter at 12:01 AM [4 reactions]