Most tourists who come to Paris leave with some kind of souvenir – often a model of the Eiffel Tower. In the warmer months you can buy an Eiffel Tower keychain in practically any tabac or kiosque in the city.
But Le Figaro reports today you’d better keep an eye on the mecs selling these sovenirs. Last Saturday French police cracked down on a network of distributors that has been peddling illegal goods for more than seven months. Police seized 140,000 souvenirs worth 241,000€ ($300,000) and arrested 39 people. The investigation into the souvenirs has been ongoing since last February and finds that the imitation Eiffels are made in China then distributed through a ring of 200 to 300 sellers in Paris, most of whom operate in sight of the tower on the Champ de Mars or at Trocadero.
The Famous Auteur Woody Allen in Paris
Le Parisien reports that Woody Allen is in Paris filming his new movie “Midnight in Paris.” The city is no stranger to film legends but Allen’s most recent visit is particularly special. His new film, which features Marion Cotillard as well as Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, will also see the acting debut of a star recognized throughout France – Première Dame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of her on set will have to wait, as her scenes aren’t expected to film before August. In the meantime Allen – a well-known devotee of France’s revered cinéaste, François Truffaut – will be staying almost next door to the Elysée at the five-star Hotel Bristol and is expected to enjoy all the finer aspects of Parisian savoir vivre.
The French Take Back the Tour de France at the Second Stage
“Finally a Frenchman in Yellow!” reads the front page of Le Parisien today. The reference is to the iconic yellow jersey worn by the current stage leader of the annual Tour de France. The cycle race that began last Saturday has 193 cyclists riding throughout France (and this time through parts of Holland and Belgium) for 22 days. Yesterday marked the end of the second stage of the race and it’s Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel who finished first by nearly three minutes. The occasion is historic - not only for France, which hasn’t seen a Frenchman wear the yellow jersey since 2008 - but the man himself. Chavanel wasn’t even sure if he was going to be able to participate in this year’s race. Just two months ago he was hit by a car while riding his bike and suffered a skull fracture and a concussion. Yesterday, he celebrated the first yellow jersey of his career. “This is the happiest day of my cycling life,” he said.
Bettencourt Affair Infects French TV
The entire French government seems to be at the mercy of the Bettencourt affair these days. The controversy may even have affected French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s choice for the new president of national public broadcasting company France Télévisions. Libération reports Sarkozy announced yesterday the director of the press distribution company Presstalis, Rémy Pflimlin, will be the new head of France Télévisions. Previously, Sarkozy favored Europe 1 CEO Alexandre Bompard, age 37. Nineteen years Pflimlin’s junior and a known UMP supporter, Bompard is the sportier choice. But after days of deliberation Sarkozy chose Pflimlin, who is supposedly a safer bet politically. One counselor at the Elysée is quoted saying, “Sarkozy wanted to end the chain of the Woerth [affair] and he did not want to it eclipse the nomination of Pflimlin, a choice that neither the right nor the left will criticize.”