TEXT AND PHOTOS BY: M. M. ALAM
PARIS: Globally Paris is visualized as a city that harbors Tour Eiffel, Leonardo’s oeuvre Mona Lisa, wine guzzling and cheese munching Parisians. But Paris has much more to offer to a visitor who really wants to imbibe the romance in the air.
One sees the iconic Tour Eiffel as soon as his plane commences descending on Paris. Unlike the narrow Minar-e-Pakistan, this 300m wrought iron lattice Tower harbors small eateries and kiosks. This scribe had bought a camera (for 500 Francs) in 1995 from a small shop there. You pay more if you want to go to the second and third level (by means of a primitive escalator and stairs).
Tour Eiffel was built by Gustave Eiffel to serve as the entrance to a World Fair organized back in 1889. Initially, this monster was disliked by the Parisians who hate modern structures tainting the conventional batiments.
Not many know that Eiffel had designed a secret apartment for himself at the summit where he used to entertain guests. Those visiting the third level can see wax statues of Gustave Eiffel, his daughter (servicing tea to) Thomas Elva Edison inside the chamber via glass partition.
Following militants’ attacks, (like elsewhere in Europe) armed guards are seen at the 125m square base of Tour Eiffel that has been fortified by means of concrete.
In order to figure out the happenings in the milieu one needs to quietly sit and observe: while millions of tourists visit the tower annually, a large number of migrants entertain them for money.
Walking away from Tour Eiffel one can stand on one of the small bridges on the River Seine. You can see Paris from boats called Bateaux Mouches while having lunch or dinner (during the 15km journey).
From Tour Eiffel, you can walk to Musée Guimet located at place d’Iéna. It has the largest collection of Asian artifacts (outside Asia). Even Louvre had given their priceless shreds of Asian history to them. Its former curator Jean-François Jarrige and his (archeologist) wife Catherine had spent some three decades in Balochistan and discovered 5000-year-old Mehrgarh Civilization.
From Guimet you can walk to Arc de Triomphe situated at Avenue des Champs-Elysées – the most romantic boulevard in the world. Like Tour Eiffel, you can buy the ticket to climb the Arc de Triomphe and view Paris by means of telescopes. On the way to the rooftop, one can visit a small museum inside the structure. On 14th July national day military parade also takes place on this Avenue in presence of the republic’s President.
Instead of taking a metro one should try to walk as much as possible to explore the real Paris. In case you are alone and not planning to remain there for long just buy a carnet (ten tickets) for the metro.
While walking towards world’s most celebrated Museum Louvre (to take a glimpse of Mona Lisa) you can window shop at Louis Vuitton and the likes before tasting French cuisine at one of the innumerable restaurants at Avenue des Champs Elysees (including McDonald and Pakistani).
At Louvre again you will have to pay around Rs. 1500 to buy a ticket. On Wednesdays, after 6 PM you can get the same for about a thousand rupees (Museum remains open till 9.45). On the first Sunday of each month, you can enter the Louvre for free.
Tourists must visit Roman Catholic Church Sacré–Cœur Basilica perched high at the Montmartre, a hilly place from where you can see whole of Paris. These days due to FIFA World Cup football juggler at Sacré–Cœur Basilica has come into limelight.
Walking down the Church you can get your sketch drawn by roadside artists. Further down you can visit the (red light area) Pigalle marked by the red windmill (Moulin Rouge) known for the can-can dance.
If you visit Paris in the month of June you will be able to enjoy daylight right from 6 in the morning till 11 at night. Due to favorable weather in this month the world’s biggest (Biannual Paris) Air Show is held here in the mid of June (at Bourget).
You can go there on the last two (public days) and besides watching the cutting-edge technology can also learn about the history of aviation at Musée de l’Air. On the 21st of June Fête de la Musique (Music Day) is celebrated all over Paris.
And if you plan well you can also watch the participants of world-famous Tour de France cycling through the city. For Euro Disney Resort you will have to go some 30km out of Paris.
Macron’s popularity at record lows
PARIS: The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has hit its lowest level since the start of his term, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday, with just 29 percent of respondents satisfied with his leadership.
The poll by research group Ifop and published in the Journal du Dimanche showed an overall fall of five points in September compared with August, reflecting the 40-year-old’s battle with a series of domestic and foreign setbacks.
The results of the widely watched Ifop poll are broadly in line with other surveys that have shown the approval ratings of the centrist falling sharply following a scandal involving a security aide in July.
A separate poll by the Kantar Sofres Onepoint group published on September 17 showed that only 19 percent of French people had a positive view of Macron’s record, while another survey on September 11 showed only 29 percent thought he was a “good president.” The results reinforce a longer-term trend of French voters turning quickly on their presidents soon after their election — something suffered by Macron’s predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But many analysts also believe Macron has made a series of political errors, including failing to address the scandals over the summer quickly enough and repeatedly creating negative headlines with harsh or condescending remarks.
His leadership style was again questioned last week when he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.
Macron’s biggest challenge remains the economy, however, with his pro-business reforms failing so far to produce a significant fall in unemployment or a major uptick in growth. His government will unveil its draft budget for 2019 on Monday, which is set to see fresh efforts to rein in France’s chronic overspending via cuts to the public sector payroll and caps on pensions.
The survey by Ifop published on Sunday was conducted between September 14-22 on 1,964 people. Macron’s approval rating of 29 percent includes 3.0 percent of people who declared themselves “very satisfied” and 26 percent who said they were “mostly satisfied.”
Hollande had an inferior rating of 23 percent at the same time of his term and Sarkozy had a rating of 34 percent.
British MP Barrister Imran Hussain visits Kashmir!
As the Senior Vice-Chair of Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir, a British member of Parliament Barrister Imran Hussain visited Kashmir as part of the APPG’s ongoing inquiry into human rights violations.
There he met the Prime Minister, President, Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary, Governor and other senior ministers.
He visited the Line of Control, one of the most dangerous places in the world that has severed villages and families, as well as the refugee camps that house thousands of Kashmiri refugees who have fled persecution and violence.
He also met the representatives of a range of NGOs, women’s groups and refugee groups. He said from them he had heard truly chilling and horrific first-hand testimonies of the human rights abuses they have been subjected to at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces.
“It is vital that the plight of the Kashmiris and the human rights violations in the region are not ignored and allowed to continue by the international community, and following this visit I will be continuing to raise, as I have done throughout my time in Parliament, this issue at the highest levels of the UK Government,” maintained Imran Hussain.
EU tells Facebook ‘patience at limit’ on consumer rules
BRUSSELS: The EU warned social network Facebook on Thursday to bring “misleading” consumer terms in line with the bloc’s rules by the end of the year or risk financial penalties.
“My patience has reached its limit,” EU Justice and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement. “It is now time for action and no more promises.”
Jourova said she would call on consumer protection authorities across the 28-country bloc, which requested the changes last year, to act swiftly and sanction the company if Facebook failed to comply.
“While Facebook assured me to finally adapt any remaining misleading terms of services by December, this has been ongoing for too long,” she said.
The commission said that proposals made by the Mark Zuckerberg-led company were “very limited”, even after the company changed its conditions in April.
These new terms of services “contain a misleading presentation of the main characteristics of Facebook’s services”, the Commission said.
The commission meanwhile said that rent-a-room giant Airbnb has made the necessary changes to its consumer terms after also being under fire in Brussels.
The bloc’s executive arm has been at the forefront of a regulatory crackdown on US tech giants, having also slammed Google with huge anti-trust fines.
The commission has been cracking down on what it sees as risks for European consumers using the services of US internet giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber, and others.
Facebook also came under the microscope after this year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked.