Paris Press Review

by Malcolm Curtis


Towering facts

The century-old Eiffel Tower broke a record this year. Officials announced that six million people have climbed this 1,050-foot tall structure. The Eiffel Tower is France's most popular landmark, twice as popular as the Louvre   (three million visitors annually) and three times as popular as the châtau de Versailles (2.3 million visitors annually). The monument is constructed of 9,700 tons of iron, illuminated by 10,000 light bulbs and uses 60 tons of paint every seven years for a facelift.


Taxi time

On the move! Taxi time, a bilingual city magazine distributed in 3,000 Paris taxis, celebrates its first anniversary with features on dining, shopping and the life and times of a Parisian billionaire.


Bicycle taxis

Cars zoomed past, motorcyclists honked and pedestrians laughed as the bright yellow VeloTaxis whisked through the streets of Paris last month. This new form of transportation, the bicycle taxi, offers visitors an hour-long, scenic view of Paris for $23, taking them past the Orsay Museum, the Louvre, the Opéra and the Place Vendôme. This creative alternative to the crowded Parisian transportation system was developed by Patrick and Didier Leonhart to combine the French passion for cycling with tourism and to raise environmental consciousness. The taxis are available at the Tuileries gardens daily from April to October.


Burger battles

The French baguette sandwich is giving US hamburger chain McDonald's serious competition despite the fact that McDonald's opened 79 new outlets here last year for a total of 709 restaurants in France. A survey done by the marketing group MKG Conseil reported that for the first time fast-food chains selling French-style sandwiches, not including the corner bistros selling take-out, outnumbered their American challenger with a total of 1,182 stores. Among the fast-food giants, McDonald's held onto first place with 14.8 percent growth; Eliance, which runs motorway and airport restaurants alongside sandwich shops, came in second with 13.6 % growth; and Quick, the French fast-food hamburger restaurant, grew only 4.8%. The survey said the baguette became more popular during last year's World Cup and the baguette industry grew by 4.5% in 1998.


Sex and glamour

As American tourists flock to Europe this summer, Glamour magazine offers some interesting tips about sexual liaisons at home and abroad. Much of the information gathered by Durex's 1998 Global Sex Survey of 10,000 people aged 16 to 45 proved intriguing. In the US the average lovemaking session lasts 28 minutes, while in Italy it lasts only 14 minutes. In France, 52% of the people interviewed rated partner satisfaction a top priority and in the US only 39% found it important. Asked to give each country a "who are the best lovers?"rating (1 being the best), the respondents came up with the following score: France  1, Italy  2, US  3. The residents of Hong Kong are most responsible when it comes to using condoms; 61% of those interviewed had used one in the last three months. The Americans came in second at 51% and the French third at 33%. If you happen to be traveling this summer and need to use that famous phrase: "put on a condom," check out the June issue of Glamour magazine for translations into five languages.


Sour grapes?

Some of France's most prestigious wines may have been contaminated by pesticides over the last decade according to a recent report. Although this has not posed any health hazards it has affected the taste. Bordeaux Wine Board spokeswoman Sophie Girard admitted the problem did exist following a report in L'Express news magazine, which said that traces of chlorophenol had seeped into wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Beaujolais. The pesticides come from the treatment of wood used in storage facilities. Girard claimed that the pesticides affected about one percent of the wines tested in the past two years and that since the board became aware of the problem in 1982 they have been working diligently to correct it. Of the 1,344 wines tested in the last two years, 44 had a bad taste due to bad corks; 11 of those were due to pesticides. In the L'Express report, wine researcher Pascal Chatonnet, who first discovered the problem, said that in 1996, 50% of the barrels tested in his lab were contaminated, but that "Today, we're down to 5%." 


Mobile mania

At the end of January, 1999, 11.65 million people in France were using mobile phones. The Autorité de Régulation des Telecommunications, France's telecommunications regulating body, reported that this is a 42 percent increase compared with just six months earlier. Bouygues Telecom saw a 72% rise in subscribers to 1.5 million, Cegetel grew 40% to 4.4 million users, and France Telecom grew 38% to 5.8 million subscribers. 


Unmarried couples rejected again

The French Senate for a second time has rejected a bill giving legal status to unmarried couples. The Civil Solidarity Pact was rejected without debate as opponents fear it could lead to the adoption of children by homosexual couples.  The bill's intent is to provide unmarried couples, heterosexual and homosexual, with a judicial framework for tax and inheritance advantages. 


Baby talk

The percentage of couples getting married in France today is dwindling. Two out of every five babies in France today are born out of wedlock, whereas 30 years ago only six percent were born to unmarried parents.


World War III worries

According to a public opinion poll conducted by Libération, 41.7 percent of the French population fear the possibility of a new world war. Thirteen years ago, only 32.2% were counted as being afraid of such a conflict.



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issue: June99


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