We Think Singing in the Métro is Fun

bar Palace des 2 Moulins
Of course, there's not quite the variety of drinks as you find in a café.

Other People Think Finding Buried Treasure is Fun Too

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. December 1997:- Week after week I have to read all this grisly news in order to find some little gems for amusement and some weeks it is a bit thin for lightness and a bit heavy for 'Faits Divers.'

A couple of weeks ago the ongoing story of the trial of Maurice Papon drifted out of Le Parisien's 'major crimes' pages and found itself in the catch-all area of 'Faits Divers' and so I put him there too.

An alert reader in Paris spotted this and wrote to ask if I wasn't being a bit ironical or light-hearted about it, and he was perfectly right to call me on it. If I ran Le Parisien I would have chucked some grisly murder out of 'Faits Divers' to make room for Maurice Papon.

The trial is sleepy at the moment but if I read the signs correctly, it is not going away and the judicial authorities are determined to see it through - no matter how long it takes.

This may be a long time despite Maurice Papon being 87 years old. According to medical experts there is nothing much wrong with him except advanced age.

If you feel this may exonerate him in some way, just consider that as a state administrator, he was instrumental in causing a good number of French people - not to have any advanced age, and some children, practically no age at all.

The RATP Takes Artistic Control of Métro Tunnels

Twice a year the RATP sends a one-man video and sound crew into the métro tunnels to make audition tapes of hopeful performers who wish to carry out their profession Mextec parking entrance on - or should I say in - RATP property.

The purpose of the auditions is to decide who to issue permits to; to decide who will get the licenses that permit performing in the métro tunnels. There are a total of 200 permits to be issued and since some performers abandon theirs for other venues, there are new applicants all the time for the vacancies.

How's this for the entrance to a parking garage - this one's at Champerret.

I never realized the RATP was so fussy, and maybe they are not anything more than the usual sort of bureaucratic controls freaks. All the same, some of the métro's performers are high-class and I for one welcome their presence - especially if it is a good musician at the end of a very long, winding tunnel.

A France 2 TV-news clip showed the RATP's video man in action filming a ballerina and a Rumanian duet of musicians who had 13 years' worth of conservatory training.

The permit to perform is not attached to a particular spot, but I have see certain performers in the same tunnel at the same place, year in and year out. If it is a good spot, they have to get there early. The ballerina said she made three or 400 francs in her three-hour underground sessions; which helps to pay for dancing lessons.

Treasure Might be Right at Your Feet

I have often observed that one way of getting money in France is to simply bend down and pick it up. You can't depend on this for a living but it has one advantage over playing the Loto endlessly: it does not cost anything to bend over.

Last week a driver and his 26-month old son were walking in the forest of Montmorency near the Fortress of Domont looking for chestnuts when the little kid spotted something shiny. It was a piece of silver.

Papa and son got down on their hands and knees and after digging around a bit through the fallen leaves and soft earth, brought 405 other pieces of silver to light, perhaps for the first time since 1651 - which was the date of the newest coin.

In addition to a few Spanish Reals, the coins were minted between 1569 and 1651 and they marked the reigns of Henri II, Henri III, Henri IV, Louis XIII and Louis XIV. The value of the coins was estimated at 250,000 francs.

Since the coins were found completely by chance, the man and the boy get to keep them by giving half to the owner of the land; in this case the mayor of the commune where they were found. This find coincides with the 900th anniversary of the town of Dormont.

But don't bother to bring your metal detector to France. If you are a real prospector, you do not get to keep what you find and the owner of the land gets nothing either - the state takes it all - I suppose on the ground that the French state owns all underground mineral rights.

The Photographer and His Model

'L'Art du Nu au XIXe Siècle' and 'Portraits, Singulier Pluriel' are two parallel exhibitions mounted by the departments of stamps and photographs of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

'L'Art du Nu au XIXe Siècle' is an exhibition of 350 - mostly expo photographer and model photographs - donated to the bibliothèque, from a time when the photography was not considered an form of art in itself. Most of the photos were used by illustrators and painters, for use as models for their work. At the time, a 'nude' was considered more or less equivalent to a view of the forest at Fontainbleau.

A reproduction from the BNF show of 'L'Art du Nu au XIXe Siècle'

Delacroix was the first big-time painter to use photographs for this purpose; and others either bought them 'ready-made' or commissioned them for their specific use. For big scenes, painters could divide a photo into squares, and transfer the elements within a square to a corresponding piece of canvas.

Alfred de Vigny et les Arts

Taught design by his mother, then a student of Girodet, Alfred de Vigny was sensitive to art at an early age. Like Hugo, Musset, Merimée and Gautier, he dreamed of an alliance between artists expo: Alfred de Vigny and poets. This exhibition attempts to be the re-creation of a virtual dialogue between the two.

A unity of inspiration is shown by manuscripts, letters, paintings and sculptures, done by artists and writers who de Vigny knew; some of them done after his death. With the objects on display - most of them little-known - one penetrates to the interior of de Vigny's imagination.

Musée de la Vie Romantique
From Saturday, 22. November to 1. March 1998.
Open from 10:00 to 17:40 daily except Mondays.
16. rue Chaptal, Paris 9. Info Tel.: 01 48 74 95 39.

Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 1.41 - 2. December 1996 featured the columns - Metropole Diary's 'Out of the Rain and Into Dreamland' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Truckers and Johnny Hallyday End Suspense,With Mixed Results.' The articles in the issue were 'More Keels Than I Can Haul /Salon Nautique Features count-down eiffel - Big Boats, Little Boatsand Old Boats and Other Stuff' - 'Rare Book Search Gets No Café - Elusive Book Remains Unfound in Latin Quarter' and 'The Sorrow of Raicho Gunchev - Scholar-Hunter Turns to Conservation and Video in Bulgaria - by Paul Swider.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 2000:

Only 761 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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