Thursday, 12 November 2009

Something for the Weekend? (13th - 15th November)

This weekend begins with a special date – Friday the 13th! The French like to see themselves as rational and Cartesian, but the reality is that they have the same superstitious quirks as everyone else. Friday the 13th in France is traditionally seen as an opportunity to test your luck, so in celebration of this, here are three ways you can chance your arm this weekend – or three ways to lose your shirt! Good luck!

If you have any events or activities you think should be promoted or which you would like to promote yourself, please add them in the comments. Let me know also
if you have any events in the coming weekends you would like to promote.

Buy a lottery ticket
Gambling is not illegal in France, just run by the state and strictly controlled. Go to any Bar-Tabac and you will see dozens of scratch cards, lotteries and machines to bet on the outcome of football matches and horse races. Temptation in techocolour, but all run by an institution known as La Française des Jeux. This Friday, two draws take place; the national Super Loto and the Europe-wide EuroMillions, both of which are using this particular date and a four-leaf clover as the promotional tools of the week. It works though - more people play on this day than at any other time during the year. However, this also means that the total kitty to be shared out is also higher too, so it's a good time to get lucky!

You can also play online, but only if you can prove that you are French or resident in France!


Go to the Casino at Enghein les Bains
France is closely linked to the world of the casino (after all…faites vos jeux…the international language in such institutions is French!), and yet once again the rules governing such establishments are incredibly complicated. Until very recently, casinos could only be situated in a station thermale (spa), generally next to the sea or beside a lake. A secondary rule dictated that they must be situated at least 10km from Paris, meaning that the only suitable site in the region of the French capital was at Enghein les Bains, 14km to the north, .

Situated only 15 minutes from the Gare du Nord by train, it is a nice place to escape to even if you don’t set foot in the casino. However, the self-proclaimed ‘leading casino in France’ is clearly the chief attraction of the town, especially on this particular day! Further rules on casinos state that they must also offer a restaurant and other entertainment, so you may find more profitable ways to spend your time.

Go Horse Racing
As previously mentioned, it is possible to gamble on the outcome of horse races in certain bars in France, but only in a relatively complex manner. You need to fill in a card and select the first three, four or five horses for each race, which reduces the gamble to something akin to a lottery. If you want to bet on just one particular horse, you need to go to the track where the race is taking place and where there are fewer restrictions.

On this Friday the 13th, you have two possibilities. A daytime meet at Maisons Laffitte in the west or an evening ‘trotting’ meeting at Vincennes to the east of Paris. Gina Rarick, the trainer I met recently
informed me that standard meets such as the one at Maisons Laffitte are very poorly attended, and although the sport at a trotting meet is of low-quality ('nags from people’s back yards' I believe she said), the entertainment level is high. There is a good trackside restaurant at the Vincennes hippodrome, and it’s a fun way to see a slightly different side of Paris with a lot of colourful characters! For those not in Paris this weekend and those who are not superstitious, note that there is a meeting almost every Friday during the year – including Christmas day!

5 comments:

Peter said...

I think that I will go and play some lotto!

Starman said...

Do you have to be French to play the lotto if you are in France?

Adam said...

Starman - anyone can play the loto in France so long as they are over 18. However, I'm not sure what happens if you win! You certainly don't have to be French, but do you need to have an address in France in order to be able to claim the money? I guess after winning most people would soon have a nice address in France anyway!

Ken Mac said...

so cool!

Gator said...

Concerning the lottery, if you win a small amount you can be paid cash anywhere where they sell tickets.

For a larger sum, you're paid by check, so I assume that all you need is a bank account in the Eurozone.

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