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.
Renault board maintains Ghosn as CEO
PARIS: The board of the French automaker Renault said today that it was keeping Carlos Ghosn as its chief executive after an internal review of his pay package found that it conformed with French law.
Ghosn has been held under arrest in Japan since November 19 on charges of financial misconduct and under-reporting his pay as head of Renault’s partner Nissan, which has since sacked him as chairman. He has also been dismissed as chairman of Mitsubishi, another partner in the Renault-Nissan alliance. Renault kept Ghosn on as CEO after his arrest in Tokyo, but launched an inquiry into his pay package and named a deputy CEO, Thierry Bollore, to ensure day-to-day management.
“The compensation of the chairman and chief executive officer of Renault and the conditions under which such compensation was approved were in compliance with applicable law,” the automaker said after a board meeting Thursday. The board said this referred to compensation for the years 2015 to 2018, adding that it had asked its lawyers to continue their review in liaison with Nissan’s lawyers.
Renault’s lawyers also provided the board with a report on a presentation made by Nissan’s lawyers, the statement said. At this stage, the board “does not have information concerning Carlos Ghosn’s defense,” it added. Both Ghosn and a key aide Greg Kelly, who is also being held in Japan in connection with the charges, have reportedly denied the claims.
May seeks EU compromise to save Brexit deal
BRUSSELS: Bloodied but not yet beaten, British Prime Minister Theresa May met EU leaders on Thursday to beg for concessions that might save her Brexit deal but admitted she does not expect a rapid breakthrough.
May survived a confidence vote staged by her own party’s MPs late on Wednesday, but admitted as she arrived at the EU summit that she will not fight the next general election planned for 2022.
Instead, her focus is on salvaging her plan for an orderly Brexit and on persuading her European counterparts to offer guarantees that Britain will not remain trapped indefinitely in their customs union.
The other 27 EU leaders have agreed to draft a reassuring political statement, but remain firmly opposed to renegotiating a hard-won withdrawal deal they endorsed less than three weeks ago.
“My focus now is to get those assurances that we need to get this deal over the line because I genuinely believe it’s in the best interests of both sides, of the UK and the EU,” May said.
“I don’t expect an immediate breakthrough but what I do hope is that we can start to work as quickly as possible on the assurances that are necessary,” she said.
European diplomats are discussing a two-step plan that would see a brief political statement issued at the summit, followed in January by a legal interpretation of the deal.
“It’s all about clarification tonight,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
May was due to meet EU President Donald Tusk in Brussels for what he called “last-minute talks” before joining the other European leaders.
EU members have drawn up a draft six-paragraph statement they hope will appease British concerns about the so-called “Irish backstop” and give life to May’s effort to get the deal through parliament.
Last month the withdrawal accord was hailed as the end to a 17-month negotiation, and leaders dared hope they had saved Britain from crashing out of the union on March 29 without a deal.
But when May took it home, she ran into renewed opposition from hardline Brexiteers in her Conservative party and this week she baulked at putting it to a vote in parliament.
Now, with the vote delayed until January, she wants Europe to sweeten the offer with “reassurances” that measures to prevent the return of a hard border with Ireland will not last indefinitely.
According to European diplomats, the proposed summit statement would declare that any backstop “would only be in place for a short period and only as long as strictly necessary”.
And it will add: “The union stands ready to examine whether any further assurances can be provided. Such assurances will not change or contradict the withdrawal agreement.”
This would not be the legally binding promise, sought by Brexiteers, that the backstop would not be used to bind the UK into a customs union indefinitely.
“This is incredibly innocent language. Nothing of this is new. There is no end date for the backstop,” one European source told the Media.
Brexit will once again dominate an EU summit which had been planned to deal with the thorny issues of migration, budgets and eurozone.
After May made a desperate three-capital European tour on Tuesday to seek assistance from fellow leaders, Tusk had said he would love to help her, but “the question is how”.
European officials insist in public and in private that the backstop must stay. “The idea of a sell-by date won’t stand,” one said.
May also met Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before the summit. “Nobody is talking about and nobody is being asked to – by the British prime minister – to change the wording of the withdrawal agreement,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said in Dublin.
“What is being looked at now seriously is how a political declaration can be put together that is real, that provides reassurance for many in Westminster who need it, that the backstop represents no threat to them, no threat to the United Kingdom.”
Anything May does come away with must convince her own party, its angry Northern Irish allies and a majority of British MPs to back the deal when it returns to for a vote before January 21.
Her victory in a confidence vote of Conservative MPs late Wednesday made her immune from further challenge in her party for a year, but she was forced to admit she would quit by 2022.
And if the Brexit agreement is still found wanting not only would Britain and its main trading partners face economic chaos, but May could be finished off by a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
Strasbourg firing: 1 killed many injured
STRASBOURG: An identified gunmen opened fire here near a Christmas market killing one and injuring many.