US expats party through election night in Paris

2nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 2 (AFP) - The United States flag was flapping over Paris streets late Tuesday as US expats and French protestors gathered to watch the results of the presidential election beamed into the capital of Washington's most troublesome ally.

PARIS, Nov 2 (AFP) - The United States flag was flapping over Paris streets late Tuesday as US expats and French protestors gathered to watch the results of the presidential election beamed into the capital of Washington's most troublesome ally.  

Outside Harry's Bar, the favoured watering hole of Americans in Paris since 1911, some 300 people keen to mix politics with a party atmosphere watched as 30 French anti-war protestors demonstrated in the street demanding a US withdrawal from Iraq.  

The bar holds a traditional bar-room straw poll of passport carrying US customers during presidential elections which it boasts has predicted the winner every time, except in the 1976 contest between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.  

So far this year, John Kerry is the establishment's pick. The US senator has a 100-vote lead over President George W. Bush, according to a tally written up on the mirror behind the bar.  

That indication only served to underline the general antagonism most of the French population holds for Bush, as shown in several surveys.  

All the Americans questioned said they were Kerry-voters, and were confident their candidate would win.  

"It's going to be Kerry for sure, for sure," said Patti Brown, a US businesswoman who has lived in Paris for 10 years.  

She told AFP that she had decided to hit Harry's Bar to find the sort of atmosphere lacking in the French coverage of the election.  

"It's frustrating here. In the US, every bar, every restaurant would have a TV on with CNN giving the results. But here, it's not a TV world," she said.  

On the Champs Elysees avenue, the Planet Hollywood restaurant was hosting a combined event: a dinner jointly organised by Democrat and Republic expat associations and a live TV studio put on by France's state-owned TV5 network.  

Paying guests entering the cavernous dining area had to file down a staircase next to which was a plastic tube holding a replica of actor-turned-Republican-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in full "Terminator" costume.  

"This isn't only an American event - it's also a French and international event," said Philippe Dessaint, one of the French presenters, as he prepared to give all-night coverage with Frederic Mitterrand, the nephew of the late former Socialist French president.  

"This is the most important election night party outside of the United States," he said.  

Steeve, the barman, said he figured "we'll be selling a lot of beer tonight" to Americans looking for a bit of home-style election-watching.  

Those and other venues, including private apartment election parties put on by US citizens residing in Paris and a barge event on the Seine river, were infused with a festive spirit.  

The US embassy, in contrast, sat in squat silence on the Place de la Concorde in the centre of the city.  

French police patrolled out in front, shooing away pedestrians and vehicles from the concrete-lined perimeter of the building, while four buses holding riot squads were parked across the street.  

At home, French viewers were tuning into news programmes giving wall-to-wall coverage of the US elections, although many preferred to switch over to the big movie of the night: "Jurassic Park 3".  

In Paris's celebrated restaurants and dinner parties, the conversation inevitably turned to the elections.  

A Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker was even seen whizzing by on the back of a scooter also sporting an "I Love New York" slogan on a busy Paris road.  

The driver, a woman in her 30s, had time only to acknowledge with a curt nod of the head that she was a US expat on her way to another election do before she sped off again between the cars.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article