Scene - The Other Tour-Bus Company

photo: living statue, haussmann
For the weary shoppers, slow-moving street theatre.

The Tail-End of the Fall-Winter Season

Paris:- Saturday, 27. December 1998:- If you are ever near the Madeleine church, pop around to the eastern side. Right on the corner you will find a beautiful under-the-sidewalk public toilet, and just a few steps from it, an unusual RATP kiosk.

You may have seen the RATP's bright yellow 'Open Tour' buses, or read about them here, but what might be less well-known is that the RATP operates a whole series of tours.

For example, for New Year's Eve, they have a tour leavingphoto: madeleine toilets and open bus at 19:00 to go to 'La Ferme du Buisson' - which is supposed to be ancient and fortified, but of unknown location - and at this farm you can say 'goodbye' to 1998 while surrounded by the wooden horses of an antique merry-go-round.

This shot was taken five minutes before visiting the RATP's kiosk, but after checking out the swanky public toilet.

If you've done it all and seen it all, you'll be sorry to miss this one - because reservations closed for it on 30. November. For 930 francs I think there is more to it than justwooden horses, and the bus brings you back at 6:00 in the morning of 1. January 1999 - making it one of the RATP's slower round-trips.

The point is though, the RATP has a whole series of tours. Some are to sites in Paris and some are further away; many tours cost about 200 francs, but there are some for less and some for more.

This little office also has a series of attractivebrochure: ratp winter bus brochures for the RATP's regular Paris bus lines. For example, if you take the one for the bus number 21, it will entitle you to a five franc reduction if you get off on the Pont Neuf, and take a cruise on one of the Vedettes du Pont Neuf.

Okay, so the reduction is less than the price of a bus ticket; it's the thought that counts. If you are one of these 'done it all and seen it all people,' this RATP service kiosk is for you. You know, you leave the driving to them, and get to watch Paris drivers fight it out from the safety of a nice, big bus.

The 'Winter Bus' season continues until 30. March 1999. The kiosk is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The 'Summer Bus' season has longer opening hours and is open on weekends.

Painters At the Marine Museum - For a pleasant museum full of many wonders, the Musée de la Marine at Trocadéro is almost exceedingly discrete.

For the 36th time, the Musée de la Marine is presenting its ever-growing collection of marine paintings. Many of these are done by 'official' navy painters, but the exhibition also shows works by independent artists. This year, homage is paid to two departed official painters: Jean Cluseau-Lanauve and Jacques Bouyssou.

Except for Tuesdays, open daily from 10:00 to 17:50. Musée de la Marine, Palais de Chaillot, 17. Place du Trocadéro, Paris 16. Métro: Trocadéro.

Modern Art In Lille - This is a bit out of town and just a little further outside town, 'L'Envers du Décor' is at the Musée d'Art Moderne until Sunday, 21. February. Openposter: art modern: lille: envers de la decor daily except Tuesdays, from 10:00 to 18:00. Take the métro line 1 to 'Pont de Bois' and then the 41 bus to the Parc Urbain-Musée.

I can't pass up mentioning any Francisco de Goya exhibition. The show is subtitled 'Un Regard Libre' and you can see it until Sunday, 14. March. fnac and the SNCF have joined ticketing forces to make the visit fairly easy.

There's a promo transit rate, starting at 129 francs, for TGV first class, so that's 258 for a round-trip. It takes 60 minutes one-way and there's a train from Gare du Nord every half hour. In Lille, look for the Palais des Beaux-Arts, which is at the place de la République. Info. Tel.: 03 20 06 78 00. Lille itself offers a combo price for the exhibition and lodging.

L'Heure Espagnole - is by Maurice Ravel and will be performed by the Orchestre National d'Ile de France on Saturday, 16. January at 20:30 in the Salle Pleyel, under the direction of Jacques Mercier.

According to Mr. Mercier, you are supposed to laugh along with thisposter: orchestra ile de france piece of Spanish 'boulevard' music; so if you find it amusing, you already have his okay to enjoy yourself.

The imposingly-named Orchestre National d'Ile de France had a little program booklet for me to find at the RATP bus kioskmentioned above. Their series of concerts run through to May, and I will mention them again - partly because the booklet came with 10 well-designed postcard-sized posters for the concerts - but mainly because the whole thing seems to be so well organized. Best of all, this Orchestra has an email address.

Orchestre National d'Ile de France, at the Salle Pleyel, 252. rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8. Ticket sales at 24. rue des Archives, Paris 4. Contact by email: or Info. Tel.: 01 43 68 76 00.

Portable Globalization - is what you can get from the IGN for only 179 francs, and up. France's national Geographic Institute has a boutique just off the Champs-Elysées, called Espace IGN, and it has some interesting articles for sale - including globes of various sizes and countries.

If you can find a card version of the illustration on this page, take it with you to get 20 percent off the price of any IGN product. Espace IGN, 107. rue la Boétie, Paris 8. Métro: Franklin-Roosevelt. Open Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 19:00. On Saturday, the shop takes a lunch break from 12:30 to 14:00.

Le Misanthrope - by Molière is playing at the Maison des Cultures du Monde, adapted and directed by Dominique Houdart, with Hubert Jappelle, Jeanne Heuclin and Catherine Larue. Until Thursday, 28. January, this show is on from Tuesday to Saturday, at 21:00.

At the same location, the Padox Café-Concert, featuring Jeanne Heuclin singing Yvette Guilbert and the Commune de Paris. This takes place Friday and Saturday at 19:00 and on Sundays at 12:00. The Maison des Cultures du Monde, 101. boulevard Raspail, Paris 6. Métro: Notre-Dame des Champs. Info. Tel.: 01 45 44 41 42.

Café de la Danse - This is a new nameposter: cafe de la danse: ramadan for me and I don't have much information for it. A theatre piece, 'La Double Inconstance' is currently playing until Wednesday, 30. December, at 20:30. Café de la Danse, 5. passage Louis-Philippe, Paris 11. Métro: Bastille. The 'Café' is located between the rue de Lappe and the passage Thiéré.

Starting on Wednesday, 6. January, the 'Belles Nuits du Ramadan' takes off with 15 evenings of 'oriental music' at the Café de la Danse. Info. Tel.: 01 48 87 50 50.

Nel Haroun, Café Oriental, 1920

Here's the story: it turns around the mysterious person of Nel Haroun, and the time is the 'Années Folles' - when Parisian cabarets were sometimes more like the caverns of Ali Baba - and this original musical seeks to recreate the orientalism that was so popular at the time.

Dancers, jugglers, actors and singers; about 20 in all, perform the original idea of Mayodi, under the direction of Pierre Mechanick. Attention: this piece includes belly dancing and if you are a fan of this, it shouldn't be missed.

Divan du Monde, 75. rue des Martyrs, Paris 18. The current run lasts until Wednesday, 30. December and then it returns for a second round from Tuesday, 5. January until Thursday, 14. January. Métro: Pigalle or Abbesses. Info. Tel.: 01 49 87 50 50.

23rd Paris International Marathon

The Marathon International de Paris - to be run on Sunday, 4. April 1999 - is now taking inscriptions.

To register for the Marathon, I have only a fax number at this time: 33 -1 41 33 15 69, but give the Web site a try too.

If writing, the name and address is Athletisme Organisation SA, BP 182, 92135 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. If absolutely necessary, I will scan the registration form and email a copy to anyone who requests it.

Inscriptions made before 15. January 1999 cost 190 francs for residents and 250 francs or US$45 or 75 DM for visitors.

After the date above, from 18. January to 19. March, the rates rise to 250 francs for residents, and to 370 francs - US$75, 115 DM - for visitors. The rates for signing up after 19. March are quite a bit higher and entries are limited to 25,000. If you wait and the quota is full on the sign-up deadline, you'll be out of luck.

If this big-time stuff is not your beat, there is also a Semi-Marathon; which will be run in Paris on Sunday, 7. March 1999. Take your pick.

Tropiques Métis - It is difficult to tell whether France belongs it 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 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.
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