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Newsletter #16: October 2001

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***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #16: October 22, 2001***

* From the Home Bureau *
I got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle at noon and needed to catch a TGV at Gare de Lyon at the end of the afternoon. Not enough time to stop in Paris for any great length of time, but no reason to rush. So instead of the dreary RER, I took the Roissy Bus to the Opéra and Bus 20 from there to Gare de Lyon. In all, it was just under two hours for the whole journey in lunchtime traffic. But what an amazing fall day! There’s something about the crisp air in autumn in Paris that does something to the sunlight. The city looks radiant. The people look radiant (happier, anyway). A good day in October beats a good day any other time of the year hands down, as far as I’m concerned. None of the crabbiness and eternal snuffles of winter, none of the rain and mushy dog poo of spring, and none of the stinky polluted humidity of summer. In fact, not much can ruin autumn. Except maybe a strike. Ahhh, the strike season. The world may be topsy turvy and warring with itself, but the French continue on with life as usual (maybe that’s how they’ve gotten so far). So here’s a few strike warnings, and some ways to keep it from bothering you too much. Have a Happy Halloween, see you next month! -H

* Museums on Strike *
If you’re visiting Paris this month, you may have noticed that many of the museums and monuments are closed because of staff strikes against — what else? — the 35-hour imposed work week in France. Affected are the Arc-de-Triomphe, Musée Rodin, Centre Pompidou, Panthéon, Notre Dame, the Musée D’Orsay and the Louvre. Call ahead if you’re planning to stop by. As of today, the strike is still going strong after 15 days, but you can read this article from last week’s UK Guardian for more info: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,574009,00.html

* Halloween in Paris *
If these strikes are impinging into your fun, forget about the museum frog-march and get into the Halloween spirit. In the past five years France has come a long way in embracing the Halloween spirit (the commercial possibilities may have helped a tad). Bars are still the best bet for revelry on the night for adults, pick up the latest FUSAC for the ads, or just check out your favorite American and Irish bars. And if you want to rent a groovy costume for the contests you’d better reserve it now before all you’re left with is a pointy black hat and cape. The French still think you have to be a goblin or vampire for Halloween, so creativity will go a long way. Disneyland Paris’s Halloweenland is on all month and up to November 5 (see link below for article), but the big kids’ party will be at the Disney Village bars and club on October 31st (and it’s on all night, so you can stay until the RER starts up again at dawn). Another big party is taking place at the IMAX Dome in La Défense: http://halloweencrazy.online.fr/ Plume Noire gives you some Halloween-themed ideas for a spooky tour of Paris: http://www.plume-noire.com/feature/halloween/halloween-paris.html To see some Halloween-inspired art, you can request an invitation to a special exposition taking place in Paris during this month: http://www.arthalloween.com/ Happy Haunting!

* Chocolat-sur-Seine *
A veritable floating chocolate barge on the Seine, Au Route -du- Cacao, is a must for any self-respecting chocoholic. In front of the Bibliothèque Nationale, it offers 50 kinds of chocolate ice cream and 20 kinds of cake. Open Wed-Sun 10AM-8PM. Nummy!

* Tea Time *
If you’re a self-avowed tea connoisseur, or just someone who wants to spend the day in a lovely-smelling environment, don’t miss the second annual Tea Expo (Salon du Thé) at the Palais des Congrès, Porte Maillot. It’s open to the general public just three days: October 27- October 29. Visitors will get to sample and purchase teas from all over the world, including tea-derived products like cosmetics and food products. Check out their web site for more info: http://www.tea-site.com/

* Travel Deals for Students in Paris *
When you’re a foreign student in Paris, it’s hard not to notice that all of the French students have started planning their ski trips to the Alps or shopping trips to London. Maybe you’re just thinking, "I’m in Europe, so I’d better go have a look around while the travelling is cheap". And yes, in Europe it’s quite a good deal to be a student. Check out this student travel site recommended by Suite101 Project Coordinator and World Traveller, Rina: http://www.otu.fr/

* Au Revoir, Pooper Scooters! *
Last week the Paris City Council announced that the city will be getting rid of the doggy doo pick-up brigade known as motocrottes (crotte means turd). Since 1982 men driving these scooters use powerful vacuum tubes to suck the mess from the sidewalks, but the council says it takes up half the cleaning budget and only cleans up 20% of the 16 tons of doggy by-products produced daily in the city. So what’s coming instead? More plastic bag dispensers and enforcement of fines for those who don’t clean up after Fifi (yes, actually, it IS against the law to leave it). Look forward to some great feats of creativity in public service announcements that are sure to accompany the effort.

* The Latest at Suite101.com * The best Halloween party in town is actually a short ride out of town: "Halloweenland at Disneyland Paris!": http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/4820/82439

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