Paris - Year 2000

photo: cafe le solferino

A brisk walk in winter sunlight from the Musée
d'Orsay puts you in this café.

A Big Bang On a Budget

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. February 1999:- The 'Dôme de la Millénaire,' to measure about a kilometre in circumference or 320 metres in diametre, is not going to be built in Paris. It will be opened by the Queen in London. Paris intends to be modest for the millennium.

The grand plans that were around in late 1997 are no more. No new Tour Eiffel, flying the maple leaf high over east Paris. No other 600 'grand' projects. Paris intends a modest 'people's show' instead. This will be doable and cheap.

Of the 37 projects now being planned, 25 of these are private initiatives and are expected to be paid for by their promoters and advertising. The new millennium will open with the hucksterism of the old; a supposedly comforting continuity.

The city is paying the whole nut for some others, and 'topping up' the budgets of shows like Robert Hossein's 'Celui Qui Dit Non' - a spectacle about Charles de Gaulle. If you've wondered about the poster on the Morris column on the contents page this week and last, it is for this show - coming in October, being advertised now.

The city expects to spend not a centime more than 40 million francs. The new logo, with a slap-dash 'Paris 2000,' is subtitled 'Le Choix du Coeur.' Since nobody here ever agrees about anything, the criticism has already started about the low-ball plans.

Some say 40 million out of a city budget of 32 billion francs is peanuts. Some taxpayers beg to differ. Some say Paris stature requires something stupendous; not so, say others.

Look at Los Angeles with its 'Party 2000.' Look at Berlin with its biggest fireworks show in the entirephoto: meudon observatory history of the world - which I thought it already had in 1945. Look at Rome, with its expected 25 million pilgrims and music by Enrico Morricone. Look at Switzerland, with its precision; deciding that it will party in 2001, when the new millennium actually starts. It looks like London's dome is the only original idea around.

My 'guides' fail me - I think the observatory at Meudon is on the Meridian.

And Paris is not playing fair, because some of its projects have either been done before or are regularly scheduled. The Champs de la Sculpture has a re-run planned for the fall, and the Fête de la Seine in September is likely to become an annual event anyway, like Bastille Day.

So what's left? Well, starting in July the 'biggest inflatable balloon in the world' is going to be anchored over the André Citroen park in the 15th arrondissement. From the beginning of September, the Place de la Concorde will be home to the 'giant' ferris wheel; 60 metres high, with 42 gondolas. Whoopee! In low-rise Paris getting high is high-life.

Also for the Place de la Concorde, also for September, an old idea dating to 1913: turning the whole thing into a gigantic sun-dial. Thank you, Camille Flammarion!

For the last 10 days of the year, Trocadéro is slated for transformation into an alpine ski area, with a village of folksy chalets and some pine trees. The Père Noël will have a 'live' crèche, with live animals.

At Palais Royal, a giant book - 15 metres high - will be set up, around which there is to be a gathering of 500 authors and 300 artists.

But the best will be reserved for the last: the countdown numbers on the Tour Eiffel will switch from days to hours on Thursday, 31. December; then from hours to minutes; finally, from minutes to seconds... until cinq, quatre, trois, deux, un...

And then the festivities planned for the year 2000 can begin.

For Paris, two other items are worth mentioning. Besides the city, the state will be mounting events. One is called 'Les Portes de l'An 2000.' I have no idea what these will be other than they will be made or designed by well-known artists, and will be placed in all of France's major cities.

From the Etoile to the Place de la Concorde, these 'portes' will 'open' at midnight on 31. December in Paris and in all the other cities with them.

As has been previously mentioned, a tree was planted on the old meridian at Saint-Martin-du-Terre last 25. November. Similar trees are to be planted along the meridian's 1,200 kilometre length between Dunkirk and Perpignan - and this line runs through the centrephoto: meudon observatory terrace of Paris. For Tuesday, 14. July 1999, a picnic has been planned to take place - on - the meridian; from one end to the other.

For seeing the fireworks, the terrace at Meudon is nearly as good as the Champ de Mars.

The picnickers, who will be very happy if the weather is good, will wave. It should be quite a sight from outer space and if you happen to be an astronaut and pass over on this date, you should wave back.

All of this may sound somewhat low-key and less than overwhelmingly exciting. The thing to remember is that this is 'extra' to Paris' regular program of non-stop events, exhibitions, shows, parades, festivals and salons - which are always so many they can't be shoehorned into the 'Scene' pages.

Also, I haven't taken into account possibly and likely local initiatives. Parisians and the French are perfectly capable of putting on their own shows, so I have no doubt there will be a lot more going on than what is 'official.'

Today is the 1st of February. Normally, I would expect people to start thinking about their travel plans to Paris right after Saint-Valentine's Day. I think this year will be different, because some Metropole readers have already locked in their travel plans - to be in Paris on Thursday, 31. December 1999.

If you want to do the same, book early.

Tocqueville This Week

'The Tocqueville Connection' has an unusual story about an unusual American, Varian Fry. He arrived in Marseilles in August of 1940 with $3,000 in cash and the intention of 'exporting' all the people who were being sought by the Nazis under Vichy's infamous Article 19 clause.

After many 'exportations' worthy of several spy thrillers, Fry was expelled from France in September 1941, for 'protecting Jews and anti-Nazis.' He made one return visit to France in 1964, to visit Chagall, Ernst and Picasso. In 1967, he was awarded the 'Legion of Honor' by the French government. He died in the same year, in relative obscurity.

There will be a display of works by the artists he assisted, in Marseilles from 18. March to 30. June; and there will be a two-day colloquium on 19. and 20. March. A similar show of art - some of it very famous - will be held in Aix-en-Provence until 11. April.

One of Metropole's readers is preparing a Web site about Varian Fry, and when I get the details about it you will find them here.

Festival International de la Bande Dessinée

Every year the people who make the comics you read and enjoy gather in the Cognac town of Angoulême at the end of January to celebrate their survival for yet another year. For every 'star' comic-book artist-author there are hundreds of unknown and solitary soulsphoto: in car in versailles who sketch away the nights in garrets, dreaming of the day when they might be honored at this festival.

Every-day Versailles; as seen through a dirty windshield.

The serious side of this fun is the fact that the 'lifetime achievement' awards are not given to anybody under 70; only to those who have passed at least 50 years in those lonesome garrets. This is dedication. This is not a game for those in search of 'overnight success.' Comics are a hard grind.

Not only this, the year I went to Angoulême, I had a hard time finding any Cognac.

Milia's 6th Edition

From Tuesday, 9. February until Friday, 12. February, this year's edition of the Milia will unroll in Cannes. The 'Milia' is to interactive content what the 'Midem' is to music: an international showcase and a trademart. Still, it's the place to see now what you may be buying tomorrow - if you care for multimedia, that is. This year, I believe for the first time, games are featured. This site requires Shockwave, so you too can be - interactive!

Everything You Wanted to Know About Normandy

This site has the subtitle 'Toute la Normandie d'un seul clic!' and this is about what it amounts to - with a simple search-engine look and a list of categories, leading to just about everything Normandy has on the Web. Under 'Tourism' you will find not only the War Memorial at Caen but also the Cidre Museum in Calvados, which is in the centre of the high-proof apple world.

Never Too Early for Valentine

As a confirmed crochet I feel silly writing this but realize that many readers may not share my views of the expansion plans of the greeting card industry. Therefore, since email Valentines destroy no trees, I logically feel I have to support this annual silliness. Here then, is the URL for sending someone a "Je vous aime." As my source says, "Non romantiques s'abstenir!"

Paris' 'LiveCam' Shows Sparkly Weather

Hitting this site will give you some views of a bright sky over Paris these days from TF1-TV's 'LiveCam' if you want to see what atypical winter weather looks like - unless it happens to be nighttime here, which it usually is between about 16:00 and 07:30 GMT. If you are in our modest combo 'Euro'-and-'continental' CET zone, nighttime is between about 17:00 and 08:30.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 3.05 - 2. February 1998 - This issue featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'Readers Respond to 'Help'' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'A New Suspension for the Papon Trial.' The issue had two features; entitled ''Egyptomania!' Rages in Paris' and 'Bob Sends Me to the Pig Restaurant.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'The Game's Tomorrow!' I don't remember the cartoon at all; but that's why this is here - for you to look it up. I do remember 'Bob' and the 'Pig Restaurant.' They seem like more like a lifetime than a year ago.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 334 bright and cold days left to go.

Regards, Ric
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini