FRANCE: Coefficients for the Millions

Frenchmen last week were staring at the floor. A new law, aimed at bringing order and equity out of the chaos of French rentals, had just proclaimed that after Jan. 1 French floor space would be classified as "real," "useful" and "corrected." The law was drafted with clarity, system and thoroughness, qualities for which the French are famed. Also, the law was nuttier than an Alsatian fruit cake.

With Schedule I in hand, a tenant began by classifying his apartment. A three-room fifth-floor apartment in a fairly decent neighborhood would be rated as 3-a. With louder street noises, darker corridors and...

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