Last Chance: the Festival d'Automne

photo: resto chez clement
If the Drugstore is full, try Chez Clément, just
down the avenue.

A Well-Kept Secret

Paris:- Saturday, 5.December 1998:- You wouldn't know it to read Metropole, but there actually are US and US-style fastfood joints in Paris; Hollywood movies play to full houses all over town, radios play US pop music all the time and record stores sell the discs like hotcakes, half the people on the street wear US-inspired clothing, some cafés have US beer and some cars may be US designs.

Somehow - and it isn't easy - most of this escapes being in Metropole. I've been coming to think that readers may arrive here after getting an idea of Paris life from me, and go into terminal cultural shock when they see what is really happening.

Paris and France are still left, so don't worry - but don't get too upset to see a McDo's on the Champs-Elysées - or the Hard Rock Café. When 'Rocky' came over to open it some years ago I was pretty dubious about it. Since then I've stepped inside one and a half paces. It looks like a slot parlor. I suppose there is a café in it somewhere.

The one I'm thinking of is between the Virgin Megastore and the fnac outlet on the Champs-Elysées, where eager customers can stop off for a cool 'Bud' between hot record buying. But I now see the poster I have is for another location, in the boulevard Montmartre. On Thursdays, this branch of the Hard Rock Café has live bands, that plug in and turn on around 22:00. Concert and a drink for 40 francs is not bad.

If you feel a sudden need of a shot of the good old USA, try the Hard Rock Café, at 14. boulevard Montmartre, Paris 9. Info. Tel.: 01 53 24 60 00.

This is a totally accidental and unsolicited plug. I had a chance to do one for 'Joe Allen's' last week and I tossed it; thinking it is neither French nor American. It is just a place that has been around for a very long time, and this is always a sign of some quality regardless of its label.

La Chine au Festival d'Automne

This 'festival' has been in existence since 1972 and I have blissfully managed to be largely unaware of it. Since I am largely unaware of a great many other things too, a stray festival or two hasn't bothered me before now.

But every time I set about doing this weekly 'Scene' column, I find that I have yet another 'Festival d'Automne' event and it is slowly - ever so slowly - dawning on me that the entire press package for it may be about the size of the Latin Quarter's telephone book.

The festival always has had a theme of sorts. This year's is focused on eight centuries of Chinese Opera. These are in turn focused at the Grand Halle de la Villette, the Théâtre Paris-Villette, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Opéra National de Paris, and by the MC93 at Bobigny - which is mentioned below.

The problem for me has been that the Festival d'Automne has more than just a Chinese part; there is also a European cultural half, which includes contemporary music, theatre and dance.

Now realizing that I've blown putting up a semblance of a program for this year, I'll be a bit more on the lookout for it next year. I had better be on the 'lookout' for everything next year - which starts 25 days from now. Gahzooks!

The Year 2000 Itch

Our Franco-Germano cultural TV channel 'Arte' thinks weposter: 2000 vu sur - arte may be getting worried about moving from the old and nasty 1900's to the wonderfully new 2000's, so they are putting on a program called '2000 Vu Par...' which is a series of films about the future - made by 10 directors from four continents.

Scared yet? Well, although TV is for local consumption, you might come across a glotze-box in a hotel room, and if you bother to turn it on you may as well watch something good. 'Chez Walter,' by Romuald Karmakar will be - ooops! was broadcast a week ago. The series continues... '31. December 1999: Avec Qui Serez-Vous?' And I'll try to remember to read the posters before putting them in here, in 2000.

Tropiques Métis

It is difficult to tell whether France belongs to its former colonies or the other way around; for they are very much present in everyday life. Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique and Réunion export not only people to France, but music, art, folklore, lifestyle and food too.

There are also a series of concerts, held in the auditorium of the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires, including a 'Chanté Noël' on Tuesday, 23. December, from 14:00 to 16:00, and this will be followed by a film, 'Les Avants de Noël.' There is a program of plays and Carnaval workshops for the young, on Wednesdays in January and March.

Toss in a bit - 400 years - of history, and you can find it all in one place until 12. April, at the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires. 6. avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris 6. This is inside the Jardin d'Acclimatation. Métro: Sablons, in Neuilly, plus a seven-minute walk. Open daily except Tuesday, from 9:30 to 17:15. Info. Tel.: 01 44 17 60 00.

Crime et Châtiment - by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, is presented by L'Equipe de Création Théâtrale of Grenoble, and is directed by Chantel Morel. At the Théâtre de la Tempête, in the Cartoucherie on the route du Champ de Manoeuvre, Paris 12. On until Sunday 20. December, at 19:30 and on Sundays at 16:00. No shows on Mondays and Tuesdays. Info. Tel.: 01 43 28 36 36.

Glaz'Art Goes Up-Market

First off, Glaz'Art has moved its publicity from photocopies to printed posters, and it now has a program of sorts - the current one is 'Chante & T'es Toi' and it continues untilposter: chante & t'es toi either 11. December or 15. December. The Festival 'Latcho-Drom' follows, and continues until Christmas Day.

You've got time to catch 'Les Escrocs' tomorrow and 'Casse-Pipe' on Thursday, and 'Theophile Minuit' on Friday. 'Boris et les Quincaillers' and 'Nery' launch the festival which follows, on Wednesday, 16 December.

By the way; this is Paris' Afro-Funk-Techno-World-Rock and very live and loud. At Glaz'Art, 7 to 15. avenue de la Porte de la Villette, Paris 19. Entries are 50 to 70 francs. Métro: Porte de la Villette. Free parking! Info. Tel.: 01 40 36 55 65.

Salon Nautique '98, Revisited, Again

When I wrote another plug for the Salon Nautique last week, I thought that would be the end of it for me. I need to see big, shiny boats that I can't afford about as badly as I need two snow shovels.

Instead TV-news has been showing me what I'm missing. Two minutes of this and I find the télécommande - the TV-zapper - is missing too, under a pile of 4,782 Lego bricks. When I do find it, off the dream boats go and I settle down to reality again.

Totally unreal, but not entirely by coincidence, the alert Bernard Bouygues wrote to tell me that a friend turned up Metropole's 1996 coverage of his project, the 'France II Renaissance.' He said, "I want you to know that we are working like buffalos to make things go through and it is moving nicely ahead."

For those of you who will not 'work like a buffalo' to hit all the hyperlinks above, the 'France II Renaissance' project can not be put into a nutshell because it involves a five-masted sailing ship - and you can buy a 'share' of it. This is not a common, everyday sort of offer, so before you ash-can it, think it over - look it over - carefully.

38th Salon Nautique International de Paris
At Paris Expo, Paris 15. Métro: Porte de Versailles. Until Monday, 14. December; from 10:00 to 19:00 daily. On 11. December, until 23:00 and closes at 17:00 on the last day. Entry: 60 francs; half fare, 30 francs.

Galleries Louise Weiss

The modern art galleries grouped in the rue Louise Weiss, Paris 13, are planning a new collection of exhibitions. The new series runs through to Saturday, 23. January - with a break from 24. December to 4. January for hols. Opening hours are usually from 14:00 to 19:00 daily, except for all of them being closed on Mondays. All galleries: métro Chevaleret.

Russian Icons

Russian soul - Russian icons, from the collection of the Kolomiensky Museum in Moscow; featuring about 50 icons and other items on view outside Russia for the first time. An added attraction of this exhibition is that it is located on the top of the Grande Arche at La Défense, and the entry price of 60 francs includes the elevator ride up to the top. Open daily from 10:00 to 18:00, until 31. January. Métro and RER: Grande Arche de la Défense. The view is free.

Biennale Internationale du Film Sur l'Art - 6th

This festival usually takes place in the Centre Georges Pompdiou, but it is closed and the Ville de Paris 'Forum des Images' is open. This edition has a series of 'desert' films, starting off with Bunuel's 'Simon de Désert.' Another series is on 'art,' by Alain Resnais. There are also films in competition and a 'Panorama du Film Sur l'Art.' A full program, in other words.

For the complete program and other information about this festival, call Info. Tel.: 01 44 78 43 60. There will also be a debate, entitled 'How to Film Art' in salle 100, on Saturday, 12. December, from 11:00 to 12:00.

Forum des Images - CyberPort
Videothèque de Paris, Forum des Halles, porte Saint-Eustache, Paris 1. From Tuesday, 8. December to Tuesday, 15. December. Info. Tel.: 01 44 76 62 00.

Early Picasso - 1901 to 1909

I wasn't aware that Picasso has his own 'national' museum - as opposed to city museum - in Paris. Not many people born in Malaga have anything like it here, or in Malaga itself. On top of this, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has lent the Picasso museum in Paris ten paintings and 15 designs - to which are added 20 designs from this museum, to make a complete Picasso exhibition.

Musée Picasso, Hôtel de Salé, 5. rue Thorigny, Paris 3. On view until Monday, 25. January. Info. Tel.: 01 42 71 25 21.

Livre des Timbres '98

For the holiday season - and for philatelists - the Poste is offering a new book. From what I can gather, it contains illustrated histories surrounding the new stamps issued in 1998. In addition, it contains 323 francs' worth of actual stamps. If ordered before 7. December, the price is 419 francs: after that it costs 459 francs. The book comes in a prestige box.

'La Poste's services for philatelists are accessible by the Web to interested collectors. Although it is not explicit that La Poste takes foreign orders, it does offer information about its subscription service in English, German, Spanish and Italian, in addition to French. La Poste also accepts payments made with Visa or Mastercard.

The 'Peony Pavillon' - Again

This is a 'detail' from theposter: chine - fest automne ongoing 'Festival d'Automne' and it is at MC 93 Bobigny - in Seine-Saint-Denis again! - production. Along with it being an 'Italian Autumn' in Paris, it is also a bit of an oriental one.

The cover of the Festival d'Automne brochure; for just the 'Chinese' part.

Thus 'Peony Pavillon' has a Chinese author - Tang Xianzu - an English translator - Cyril Circh - with music by Tan Dun, and the director is Peter Sellars; who I am pretty sure is French. In ery tiny print, a note says it is in Chinese and English, with French 'over-titles,' whatever these may be. This may be Chinese opera as many of the performers are Chinese and some of them are tenors. Two of the musicians are Chinese too.

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