They Shoot Tourists,

photo: gare de lyon train bleu
People arrive at many stations, but most Parisians
leave from the Gare de Lyon.

Don't They?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 20. July 1998:- "Can you tell me some places to go where there are no tourists?" is a question I occasionally get asked by readers.

I can't be alert all the time, so I get a picture in my mind of a gaggle of people milling around the métro exit at Palais-Royal-Musée- du-Louvre, which can be called 'Palais-Royal' for short. There aren't any postcard stands at this location, so my less-than-alert mind just tosses in all of the postcard vendors in the whole 1200-metre length of the Rivoli arcades.

Do you get the picture?

Well, what of it? Let me shake off my drowsiness, and start pretending to be alert here. Death Valley in summer springs to mind as a place where there might not be many tourists. I don't think there is much in the way of highlife in Libya either. Where there are no tourists is someplace, not you, not me, want to go.

A little closer to our subject, there are thousands of corners in Paris where seeing other tourists is unlikely. These are not life-threatening placesphoto: souvenir shops like Death Valley; they are more like the boring place I imagine Libya to be.

Not all Paris looks like this, and this doesn't even look like this all the time.

This then is the secret: if you want to be some place in Paris by yourself, it is probably a boring place. Maybe not 'boring' exactly, but a little dull. Unexciting. Unexceptional. A place where Parisians live and hope there is not a lot of loud noise.

As many readers are probably aware, a large part of the recent World Cup Championships were played out in Paris. This event started with the collision between Scotland and Brazil, finished with the final riot of a game a week ago Sunday and was topped off with the Bastille Day celebration, which was a bit more wild than usual.

Last Wednesday, this 33 or 34-day party was over. Heaven sent rain; normality was back.

Normality in Paris is a year-round gaggle of tourists milling around the métro exit at Palais-Royal.

They are taking photos of each other. They have just come out of the métro and are on their way to the Louvre across the street, or they have just come back from there. They are looking at their free maps or the métro's free map. They are discussing what they are going to do next or where they are going to go.

It isn't a group. It is not a 'gaggle;' it is not a cohesive flock of geese. These are individual visitors who have arrived in Paris, from all parts of our globe. This might be their first visit to Paris; it might be their only visit. Being at this particular métro stop makes sense. Your being here at the same time is pure chance.

tour-ist - noun. A person who is traveling for pleasure. -adj. Also tour-is-tic. Of or for tourists.

My big red dictionary has no special distinction for the plural form: tour-ists, but I would say it means 'more than one tourist.' The other key words are 'traveling' and 'pleasure.' All of these are fairly simple words; the act of 'traveling' is often complicated, but 'pleasure' is pretty fundamental to mankind.

At Palais-Royal, if you watch for a minute or two, you will see that what seems to be a crowd of people is actually a number of small groups and even some individuals.

Most of them are interacting within their own groups. The individuals have their own agendas. Hardly anybody is 'sightseeing;' gazing at the surrounding scene - the only thing going on is personal interaction.

Except for when the museum is closed or it is night, you can always see this scene at this métro exit. It isphoto: pool-side anti-paraders really a part of Paris. The presence of these people here, causes no harm. They are having a good time; they are having 'pleasure.'

In contrast, these are residents - not at the Bastille Day parade.

If you want to write to ask how you can avoid this, do so. If I feel like being really honest, I'll tell you to stay home. If you don't want to see any tourists engaging in 'pleasure,' you can do it without the hassle of traveling and do it for free.

But this answer is not encouraging. You may as well ride the métro out to Oberkampf and take in the Café Charbon. You might get to it before they get around to chalking up its menu in Cyrillic.

A Little Weather Report

Some miracle happened to arrange the weather for the World Cup so that for games in Paris, the weather was right. It wasn't too hot, too cold, too grey, and I don't think it rained at all when it counted.

The final game came off without a hitch last Sunday evening and a big party was held on the Champs-Elysées, which lasted all night long. Tuesday's Bastille Day parade had perfect weather. Although I was elsewhere outside, I had good weather too, without quite knowing what to do with it.

This was not the case on Wednesday, 15. July. The party was over and it was time to 'be normal.' This dragged drearily on and the sun finally managed to peep out again yesterday.

In much of the rest of France, especially the south, the weather has been really fine. Seeing TV with people on beaches with few clothes on has been like seeing reports from another planet.

This fine weather has now taken a jump upscale, and many parts of France have temperatures starting at 25 on the channel and going up to over 40 in some interior spots. These numbers are accompanied by heavy air and local thunderstorms are expected - and these can be violent.

Temperatures over 40 can be dangerous and when these are the case you should drink a lot of water and do as little as possible. The 'don't do's should be self-evident, so I won't bother listing them.

The Tocqueville Connection This Week:

The Tocqueville Connection' says that France experienced a burst of 'Patriotic Fervor' on Bastille Day and President Jacques Chirac was pretty emotional about it at the Elysée Palace's little garden party for 6000 close friends and their football team after the traditional parade.

For some reason, Jean-Marie Le Pen was quoted as saying something silly; which reminded me that France has had better things to do for the past five weeks, than quote anything Le Pen says.

Let ShareLook Help You Look

I like the new search service called 'Sharelook,' so I've decided to move it to Metropole's Links Page. You'll find it there this week, to help you find what you want in Paris, France and elsewhere in Europe.

Searching For Festivals?

If summer heat sets in like it seems to have done, then nights are really wonderful and even better if you are on the Côte d'Azur and there's a festival event to attend within walking distance.

The guide to festivals in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region - aka PACA - yukk! - is now online. If you intend to be down that way between now and September, give it a look to find out what you can see and hear.

More Sensory Excitement

Partly due to a somewhat unattractive poster, but also due to the late posting of it, a major show devoted to various forms of eye, mouth, ear, nose and feel-candy called 'Théâtres des Sens' has already been open for two months, but is probably still worth a visit.

This show is running under the umbrella of the Comité Colbert, which is the trade association of the French luxophoto: place dauphine industry. If you are an anti-materialist and like sack-cloth, you will not appreciate the stuff on show here.

If I say few tourists are in the Place Dauphine; it'll be the end of it.

If on the other hand, you think the French are pretty good at making fancy stuff for high prices, and you are either a dreamer or rich or both, then this is probably a real treat of an exhibition. Make a note of it, in case there are any rainy days to come.

Les Quatre Théâtres des Sens
Palais de la Découverte, avenue Franklin-Roosevelt, Paris 8. Métro: Franklin-Roosevelt. Open from Tuesday to Saturdays, from 9:30 to 18:00; on Sundays from 10:00 to 19:00. Closed also on 2. and 15. August. This show runs until 3. January 1999. Info. Tel.: 01 40 74 89 00.

Exhibitions and Events in Versailles

These are so copious - at least throughout July - that you should check the Web site if you think you will be interested in getting tickets to various spectacles in advance. If in Versailles, pay a visit to the tourist bureau.

Paris' Centre de la Mer

While Lisbon has its World's Fair with a ocean theme, Paris has its own Institut Océanographique, in spite of being some way from the nearest sea.

The 'Centre de la Mer,' as it is also called, currently has a exhibition lasting until 6. September. The event being marked is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Albert 1st of Monaco, who founded the institution; based on 28 scientific cruises undertaken between 1885 and 1914.

Also, if you get too hot in Paris and haven't got time to go to the coast, a visit to this institute will remind you of the sea, with its displays and aquariums.

Centre de la Mer - Institut Océanographique
195. rue Saint-Jacques, Paris 5. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 13:15 to 17:30. Open weekends from 10:00 to 17:30. Info. Tel.: 01 44 32 10 90.

The Paris Yellow Pages

This is my hastily thought-up name for a new France Telecom Web directory which incorporates the white pages, the yellow pages, plus brand-name pages and company pages. France Telecom's name is better than mine: they call it 'Voilà.'

There actually is a 'voilà' to it too. If you look at the 'Rues Commerçantes' section there are supposed to be 350,000 photos of Paris shopfronts - which is easily a couple more than Metropole has in its online archive. As the blurb says, 'Impressionnant!' I say the photo of the Champs-Elysées' Drugstore isn't impressive and the Paris Tourist Office seems to be waiting for its photo.

All that remains to be seen is if the 'find Jacques Dupont' part works too, regardless of whether he lives in the Ile-de-France or in Paris. For the Paris photos, putting in the name of a street may do it - then a list comes up, and you click on the little photo box.

Exhibitions and Events, Which Last Nearly Forever, But Not For Much Longer:

Very Last Chance: Max Ernst Exhibition

Although well-known as a painter, Max Ernst was also a periodic sculptor. He seemed to do it while off on trips - to visit his pals Giacometti and Paul Eluard, or further off, on Long Island or in Arizona. The Centre Georges Pompidou is showing 110 pieces and 15 paintings at the centre itself.

Max Ernst, Galerie Sud, Centre Georges Pompidou
Daily from 10:00 to 22:00; closed Tuesdays. Until Monday, 27. July. Entry: 30 francs. This exhibition will move to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf where it will be on show from 5. September to 28. November.

Beaubourg Moves to Paris' Modern Art Museum

This is an example of being totally renovated and showing your stuff off at the same time. Some 350 of the Centre Georges Pompidou's modern art treasures go on show at Paris' Museum of Modern Art, starting on Thursday, 18. June.

This is a long showing so it will be in three parts, with the third kicking in at the end of this coming October. All of the sub-classifications of modern art will be represented; from the fauves through to the 1981 'Psycho-sites' of Jean Dubuffet.

From Thursday, 18. June until Sunday, 19. September 1999.
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11. avenue du Président Wilson, Paris 16. Open from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:30; weekends from 10:00 to 18:45. Closed Mondays. Entry: 30 francs; catalogue of 80 pages, 49 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 53 67 40 00.

Another Very-Last Chance: Delacroix et Villot

This exhibition accents the copies of Delacroix done by Frédéric Villot.

Musée Eugène Delacroix
Until Friday, 31. July. Open daily, except Mondays, from 9:30 to 17:00. Entry, 30 francs. 6. rue de Furstenberg, Paris 6. Métro: Saint-Germain-des-Près. Info. Tel.: 01 44 41 86 50.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 2.29 - 21. July 1997 - This issue featured the usual two columns - Café Metropole - 'The Weather, Photos and the Hôtel de Ville' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'For Versailles, Go via Saint- Lazare.' The two articles in the issue were 'Only One of Paris' 21 City Halls' and 'Dip Your Feet Into the Water at 'Paris-Plage.' There were the usual two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was called 'Metro Team Loses Tour de France.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 530 short days left to go.

Regards, Ric
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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