Scene - Dies Da und Das Hier

photo: shop versace sales
Shopping for bargains in the high-rent 8th arrondissement.

Long Before Spring, More of the Winter
Season, Again

Paris:- Saturday, 9. January 1999:- A lot of people who are staying longer than five nights in Paris figure out they will have more fun if they speak a few words of French, or can read menus.

If they are really serious, they might find their way to the Boulevard Raspail, to the 116 year-old Alliance Française. Here they will find a school where French can be learned and at the same time meet other people from 182 countries and territories who do not speak French.

The first thing to do is take a French examination. If you fail it, you will be a candidate for admission. If all you want are the 300 essential words, this is not the place to get them. Passing 'Degree One' will give you basic written and spoken French, but takes 125 hours and another examination to get a basic 'Certificat d'Etudes.'

I successfully failed the entry test and since it looked as if I was going to fail the 'Certificat d'Etudes' test long before the 125 hours were up, I dropped out. This was the first time I actually abandoned French; although I had successfully failed it several times before.

Don't let this put you off. I have also successfully failed Spanish, German and on occasion, English. Failing languages is something I'm good at.

With all the various nationalities attending the Alliance Française, all classes should have subtitles, in French, like there are sometimes on French-TV, for films shot in exotic places like Québec.

Joking aside, the opposite is more true. As a beginner, with two weeks of wobbly French, you will be able to converse with Cambodians and South Americans with ease; if with slightly limited vocabularies. In the class I had, half the students were from Laos; but there was one lady from Beirut who wanted to be able to talk to her kids.

The Alliance Française is like a littlebrochure: alliance francaise factory, with the main campus on the Boulevard Raspail and an annex in the Rue de Fleurus, a couple of blocks from the Luxembourg gardens - so it is handily located in the Latin Quarter between Montparnasse and Saint-Michel.

It takes 900 hours of study to achieve a 'Diplôme des Hautes Etudes Françaises.' But as the text on the brochure says, "Fishing for French? Within a week, Beno - the bear - learnt how to... Poisson!*"


Alliance Française, 101. Boulevard Raspail, Paris 6. Métro: Notre- Dame-des-Champs. Info. Tel.: 01 45 44 38 28.

Les Cents Vierges - is an operetta by Charles Lecoq, presented by the Enfants d'Arlequin and directed by Nedeljko Grujic. From the number of people involved, I think this is a big production.

At the Thêatre Dejazet, 141. Boulevard du Temple, Paris 3. Métro: République. Performances from Tuesday, 13. January until Sunday, 24. January, all at 20:30. The Sunday shows are in the afternoons; call the Info. Tel.: 01 48 87 52 55, and tickets are also available at fnac outlets.

Rumbanana - is a delightful name for what looks like a Cuban band of Rumba ladies, who apparently will be doing Monday 'Salsa' nights at the Sunset Jazz Club, starting on Monday, 18. January. From 21:30 to very late. They will be helped out by Orlando Poleo who will be doing his thing at the same time in the same place.

Sunset Jazz Club, 60. Rue des Lombards, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. Info. Tel.: 01 40 26 46 60, or tickets can be found at fnac or Virgin outlets.

poster: les noces de jeanetteLes Noces de Jeanette - was created for the Opéra-Comique by Victor Massé in 1853, and is about Jean who was supposed to say 'Oui' to the mayor, but skipped instead; presumably leaving Jeanette in the lurch at the city hall marriage office.

The Nadia Baji Company puts this story on stage at the Espace Jemmapes each Saturday at 18:00, until the end of this month. The Espace Jemmapes is at 116. Quai de Jemmapes, Paris 10. Métro: République. Info. Tel.: 01 48 03 11 09, or tickets from fnac or France-Billet.

Paris by Whirlybird: - last summer's World Cup football touched off helicopter tours over Paris - and Saint-Denis! - but out-of-town visitors picked off all the brochures.

Paris Helicoptère flies out of Le Bourget and Delta Lima takes off from Toussus-le-Noble, which is supposed to be a 15-minute ride from their Paris station at L'Orée des Champs brasserie, at 37. Avenue Mac-Mahon, métro: Ternes.

Both companies offer a 35-minute flight, but Delta Lima includes a meal at their pick-up brasserie, for a per-person rate of 962 francs. The tickets for Paris Helicoptère can be found everywhere, and Le Bourget can be reached with RER line 'B,' and bus 152. Info. Tel. 01 48 35 90 44. Delta Lima's Info. Tel.: 01 40 68 01 23.

Antiques Fair: - once again 80 antique dealers gather for 10 days inside heated tents along the Quai Henry IV, between the Pont de Sully and the Porte de l'Arsenal. The theme of the present edition turns around old and new kitchen items.

Bars and restaurants are included, so haggling over 'found' treasures can be done with ambiance. This all starts on Thursday, 14. January and continues until Sunday, 24. January, and is in operation daily from 11:00 to 19:00, and on Thursday, 21. January, until 22:00. Métro: Sully-Morland or Quai de la Rapée. Info. Tel.: 01 43 31 49 49.

A New Museum in Paris: - Billed as Paris' newest museum, the Musée du Montparnasse, is located in an artist's and artisan's cul-de-sac lined with ateliers, and possibly a place Foujita visited often.

You can't miss finding Montparnasse because it has this insanely ugly very high, brown tower; underneath which runs the Avenue du Maine. On the west side, there is the Musée Bourdelle, and across the avenue, with the entry at 21. Avenue du Maine, is the new museum.

Open daily except Mondays and Tuesdays, from 13:00 to 19:00. Entry: 20 francs. Métro: Montparnasse, and all the 90-series buses, plus the 28, 58 and 89. Info. Tel.: 01 42 22 91 96.

Passions Pasquier - or 'Point et Countrepoints' is an exhibition at Paris' mint about which I know nothing. This is a place to keep an eye on, because soon - someday - these people will be minting 'Euros.' At the Hôtel de la Monnaie, 11. Quai de Conti, Paris 6. This exhibition continues until Sunday, 31. January; daily except Mondays from 11:00 to 17:30.

L'Antre Magique - is the 'first Magic theatre for enfants' where card tricks are shown with 'nothing up the sleeves' because the little dears don't have any. This has been dreamed up by Christian Gambin.

There are afternoon sessions from 14:30 to 16:00 and 'Soirées Fantastiques' at 20:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Afternoons are on Wednesday, Saturday, Sundays and holidays. L'Antre Magique, 50. rue Saint-Georges, Paris 9. Metro: Notre-Dame de Lorette. Info. Tel.: 01 39 15 84 48.

The RATP's 'Winter Bus' Tours: - Some of these 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.

All of this can be found at a little RATP office, just to the right side of the Madeleine. At the same kiosk, there are also a series of attractive brochures for the RATP's regular Paris bus lines.

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, but posters for the current exhibition are now on view around town.

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.

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.

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 this 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 has series of concerts running through to May. 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.

Royal Paintings: - actually in the Ile-de-France, at Fountainbleau, there is an exhibition of a collectionposter: quai henri iv antiquities of 48 paintings grouped together for the first time. Some of these are decor for royal surroundings, and Rubens was among the 'decorators,' which will give you an idea of the class of the act.

At the Musée du Château de Fontainbleau, is in Fontainbleau with a lot of other sights to see, and is 65 km by road from Paris. Trains go there too, but my Michelin map does not say from where - except that I can see the tracks run along the Seine past Melun - I guess from the Gare de Lyon, since the RER line 'D' runs to Melun from there.

The museum is closed on Tuesdays and open from 9:30 to 12:30, and from 14:00 to 17:00 all other days. Info. Tel.: 01 60 71 50 70.

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: - the 'Belles Nuits du Ramadan' takes off with 15 evenngs of 'oriental music' until Tuesday, 20. January at the 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. Info. Tel.: 01 48 87 50 50.

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