Paris Goes Event Crazy

photo: cafe at buci
Finishing off the week on the left bank - at this café at Buci.

Before Our Tans Fade

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 7. September 1998:- For as long as I can remember, the start-up of the Paris season in the fall - the 'rentrée' - has been a leisurely affair.

If you have kids, the first thing you do is shuffle them off to school. This used to be a time of terror and stress for all, but this year it seems to have gone over fairly smoothly. Hardly any schools are unfit for use and hardly any teachers are on strike.

With the return-to-school out of the way, there is time to wash off summer tans. Maybe about the middle of the month, the salons and new exhibitions start, or maybe they wait until the beginning of October.

Well, that was before. This year is different. For one thing, July's rain is continuing. Linda Thalman told me the sun was out in Paris for ten, or was it eight? days in August and then it flipped over and resumed wet spring or premature fall.

On the Champs-Elysées last Monday, I was startled to see a Ville de Paris poster announcing 'La Grande Fête de la Seine,' scheduled for this past weekend - yesterday and Saturday. This was a really big show for Parisians and the weather let up a bit for it.

There were eleven locations for various events, from concerts to second-hand shows to river promenades and fireworks displays. According to old film shown on TV-news, this used to bephoto: flowers and messages a regular fête, maybe 70 years ago. Today, it seems to be a buildup for Paris Year 2000 festivities.

Last Monday at the Pont de l'Alma, Diana is honored. See 'Au Bistro' for the story.

Apparently the Seine is going to play a major part in the festivities I thought were going to start in about 18 months. The Seine travels a total of 35 kilometres as it traverses Paris, and 31 bridges span it. The vast majority of Paris' major sights are close to the river.

Announced last December, 12 kilometres of continuous walkway, from Bercy to the André Citroen park on the left bank, are to be ready for strollers by 2000; plus there will be another three kilometres along by the Bois de Boulogne. The Batobus service which currently carries about 200,000 passengers on the river, is to be extended.

After the surprise river party to greet returning vacationers, several other non-traditional September events are on the program:

Champs d'Aviation, Champs-Elysées

Officially starting this Thursday, 10. September, the Aéro-Club de France is celebrating its 100th anniversary with an aircraft exhibition on the Champs-Elysées. This will see a horde of flying machines parked along the avenue, between the Place de la Concorde and the Rond-Point.

The aircraft will not be landing or taking off. Last Thursday, some that are too fragile to be de-constructed, were being floated into Paris on barges and may be already in place on the avenue. Their exhibition lasts until Sunday, 27. September.

Within the framework of this show, the 42nd 'Gordon Bennett Cup' hot air balloon race will start early next Saturday morning, from the Concorde end of the Tuileries Gardens.

The first balloon to lift off will be 'La Poste,' carrying letters posted on the site - with the first-day-issue stamps 'Aéro-Club de France 1890-1990' and Saint-Exupéry's 'Le Petit Prince' five-stamp sheet.

Paris' Gardens Open

All of Paris' 413 green spaces will be open to the public on Sunday, 13. September - and these will include many relatively unknown to the public, such as UNESCO's Japanese garden full of bamboo.

France's National Day of Patrimony

This is an annual event in September and the weekend for it this year falls on 19. and 20. September. Over several centuries the state and its institutions have acquired a lot of historical properties. Classified private properties are added to the list and the whole lot is thrown open to the public for a weekend of free inspection of France's riches.

Within Paris, there will be over a thousand sites to visit. Many sites are not normally open to the public, so this is a once-in-a-year chance to get to view them. Come early though, as 1.5 million residents of the Ile-de-France turned out for this last year.

Techno Goes Legit in Paris

Paris has been ogling the growing popularity of Berlin's annual Techno party - which drew a million to this year's 'Love Parade' - so on Saturday, 19. September this loony parade, partly X-rated, will start off from Denfert-Rochereau in the 14th to head for the Place de la Nation in the 12th arrondissement.

'Techno' is sort of a north-European answer to Brazil's Carnival, and from I've seen, it resembles it somewhat even if the music - also loud - has a slightly different beat. This will be Paris' first official try at it. I'm not sure if the Hôtel de Ville has its fingers crossed or is praying instead.

Paris' No-Cars Day

This is scheduled for Tuesday, 22. September - possibly as an aid to clean up the mess left behind by the Techno Parade - although what I have here says it is limited to 'certain quarters' plus Montmartre and the Marais. Strollers therefore, should remain alert as always.

Paris' All-Cars Day

Five days later, on Sunday, 27. September, 2000 prestige cars are going to roll down the Champs-Elysées. This is in itself not unusual because many more than this roll up and down it every day of the week - but the occasion is the 100th anniversary of the Salon de l'Automobile - and one of the cars will be a 1898 Panhard - a model not seen any old day on the Champs-Elysées. As soon as I get them, see more details about this year's Salon de l'Automobile here.

The World Cup Was a 'Trial' Event

Apparently last summer's World Cup football tournament was more than just about football. It was seenphoto: autoroute cafe as a Paris ty-out for 'Really Big Events,' as sort of a test-run for the huge celebrations that are expected for the Year 2000.

Far south of Paris, an autoroute café's terrace, with a view.
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