Out of Paris, In the Ile-de-France

le grenier sur l'eau
It might not be quite the weather for it, but terraces
will be back in service soon.

New Internet Wrinkle - Reverse Spam

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 26. January 1998:- The week before last I was trying to find out something at a city office, and I was told the 'Tourist Office in the Louvre' would probably have the information I was seeking.

For obvious reasons I have the Paris Tourist Office on the Champs-Elysées firmly lodged in my consciousness, but this reference to a 'Tourist Office in the Louvre' stuck in my head and I started to think about it. 'What is it?' I wondered.

I had been told that it was 'under the Pyramid' so on Friday, while whistling by on the métro, I decided to get off at Palais-Royal and go and see it.

If you haven't been in Paris in more than a few years, the quickest way to get from the métro to the Louvre is directly from the métro quai; which leads into a huge mall of marble, which is full tourism ile de france of shops and restaurants and some services, like a bank with ATMs.

At the end of one of the corridors there is an octagonal space, with an inverted glass pyramid hanging into it. At one of the 'faces,' there is indeed a 'tourist office.'

It is the Paris presence for the Comite Régional du Tourisme d'Ile-de-France. As all good readers will know, the Ile-de-France is the region which surrounds Paris.

Very glitzy, and it's the Ile-de-France Tourism Office in the Louvre.

As a sort of a regional planning unit, the name Ile-de-France has only come into common use in the last 20 years. But, in fact, it roughly constitutes the original kingdom of Clovis, who was followed by Pépin le Bref, and who was in turn followed by Charlemagne, who died in 814.

In political units, the Ile-de-France is composed of the small departments close to Paris: Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. These in turn are surrounded by the big departments of Val d'Oise, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne and Yvelines.

The grand attractions you've probably heard of are Beauvais, Compiègne, Pierrefonds, Chantilly, Senlis, Fontainebleau, Chartres, Rambouillet, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and, of course, Versailles. There are also the three unalike rivers: the Seine, the Marne and the Oise; and there are the valleys and the forests.

Like some other things in France, the Ile-de-France may have a precise size, but I can not find a mention of it. My guess ile de france brochure is that it is roughly 200 kilometres square; except that it is not square. Put another way, from Paris, the edge is 100 kilometres away.

Within this area, there are a concentration of more interesting sites than probably anyplace else on earth; more possibly, than within Paris itself. Also, while Paris is mostly urban, the Ile-de-France is mostly countryside. Forests cover a quarter of it and over 60 percent of the land is either green spaces or farms.

I should have known all this because, except for very brief periods, I have lived for over 20 years in the Ile-de-France and not in Paris.

Many of the brochures are joint efforts by the city and the region.

The blurred distinction is possibly due to the region's public transport. From Meudon, in the Hauts-de-Seine where I lived ten years, it is only a 14-minute train ride to downtown Montparnasse. From where I live now, in Yvelines, the ride is longer - but it is still a Paris suburb, in the sense that a lot of people who live here, work in Paris.

I am not going to give up working in Paris, because it seems to be endless. But in the future I will be trying to take more trips to the countryside - to look around this Ile-de-France place a bit more than I have done.

Here's the place to start: at the Espace de Tourisme d'Ile-de-France, at the Carrousel du Louvre. In case you wish to write the postal address is 99. rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris. Info. Tel.: 01 44 50 19 98. This office will have a Web site up and running sometime this spring and when it does, you will see its URL here.

Spam is Bad and So Is Bad Spam

A fellow whose name may be Jonathan Brown recently wrote to ask if I could supply the email address of the magazine 'Paris-Match.' He said he'd tried the Paris-Match Web site, but could not find any email address.

I don't have an email information centre here. I do not have any copies of the magazine. By chance, I do have a copy of the French newsmagazine 'Le Point,' and I found an email address in it. Since I used to work for them, I explained Mr. Brown's problem, and requested that they send him the Paris-Match email address if they had it.

To let Mr. Brown know that we are not sleeping on the job - even though this is not our job anyway - I replied to him, explaining what I'ddone.


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