FRANCE: They're Off!

At 10 sharp there was a fanfare of trumpets from the municipal band. "Defense absolue de fumer!" roared the loudspeakers around the park. With a hiss and a rush, the mixture of hydrogen and municipal cooking gas poured into the first of the great balloons lying limp on the greensward of Le Mans' Quinconces des Jacobins. At home, the housewives of Le Mans were busily trying to cook their Sunday dinners, so from time to time the gas had to be turned off again. But in the park a milling crowd of 10,000 cheered lustily in the hot sun...

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