Modern Living: Fiche Story

Under an archaic law, any guest registering at a French hotel is required to fill out and sign a form, called la fiche, establishing his identity, address, occupation and, if a foreigner, his passport number. Fichisme is not only a chore for hoteliers, who must turn in the forms to the commissariat. For loving—if uncertified—couples, it can also be a mortifying ordeal, involving all the devices and evasions of a Feydeau comedy.

Finally, France's new Interior Minister Michel Poniatowski admitted last week what everyone has known all along: the police have no time to read the millions of fiches filed each...

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