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Closed - Temporarily - The Maison de Balzac is currently closed for renovations. It will reopen on Thursday, 20. May, for the exhibition, 'La Toise du Savant et de Vertige du Fou - Figures de l'Artiste Chez Balzac,' which will mark the bicentennial of Balzac's birth. This exhibition will continue until 5. September. The museum's library remains open until Saturday, 3. April; then it will close until 18. September. Maison de Balzac, 47. Rue Raynouard, Paris 16. Info. Tel.: 01 42 24 56 38.

Oskar Kokoschka, 1906 - 1931 - North-Central Europe's master of the modern - no friend of Adolf Hitler, a failed fellow-Austrian - hmm, well, Oskar was IT! Oskar's times were tough and he painted them tougher. See this show. At the Musée-Galerie de la Seita, 12. Rue Surcouf, Paris 7. Métro: Invalides. Closed Mondays and holidays; open from 11:00 to 19:00. Entry: 25 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 45 56 60 17.

Mark Rothko at the Museum of Modern Art: 70 works are on display, done between 1935 and 1969. This amounts to a span of work covering 34 years and it is arranged in chronological order; so you can see either where the artist was going or where he came from. Until Sunday, 18. April.

Rosemarie Trockel and Casten Höller live and work in Köln and they have ten installations called 'Maisons' at the Musée d'Art Moderne until Sunday, 28. March. Also, until the same date, see the works of Peter Fischli and David Weisse, from Zurich. Focused on flowers, their work is made up of superimposed photographic projections.

Musée d'Art Moderne, 11; Avenue du Président-Wilson, Paris 16. Métro: Iéna or Place de l'Alma. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:30 and on weekends from 10:00 to 18:45. Info. Tel.: 01 53 67 40 00.

The Musée Zadkine - Strange Beds; I am goingposter: exhibition nos lits to take a look at this. Pierre-Claude de Castro and Alain Sonneville want me to see theirs. These two nighttime museum guards have some sort of exhibition which features their after-work fold-up or down beds, mixed with administrative notes about their jobs, against a background of Ossip Zadkine's 'Odalisque' and 'Dormeuse,' all under the subhead of 'Inactions Interpassives.' In short, it's all Dada!

Musée Zadkine, 100. bis, Rue d'Assas, Paris 6. Métro: Vavin or RER, Port Royal. Except Mondays, open from 10:00 to 17:30. After 17:30, Pierre-Claude de Castro and Alain Sonneville need the museum to guard.

Lettre d'Une Inconnue - is a play by Stefan Zweig that alternates with his 'Souvenirs d'Un Européen-Fragments,' until Saturday, 13. March. The first is on stage Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 19:00; and the latter plays on Mondays and Fridays, also at 19:00. At Le Guichet - Montparnasse, 15. Avenue du Maine, Paris 14. Métro: Gaité. Info. Tel.: 01 43 27 88 61, or get tickets at fnac, Kiosques or Crous.

Who Are The French? - This exhibition - called 'Toute la France' - is about all the people who immigrated to France from 1880 to the present, and there are around 700 items on view - quite a lot of them 'arty.' The names in a 'Who's Who' in France would look like they've come from the world's edition of a telephone directory.

Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, 129. Rue de Grenelle, Paris 7. Métro: Varenne or Solférino. From Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 17:30; Thursdays to 19:00. On Saturday from 12:30 to 17:30 and on Sundays from 14:00 to 17:30.

Paris 'Winter Bus' Public 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. If in need, but sure to check out the nearby public toilet; as it is a jewel and may be classed as a historical, but rather rare monument.

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.

La Poste Goes Into Heavy Rotation - Soon to be, or already severed from the cash-cow of France Telecom, the French postal service is expanding its business activities. One traditional area, philatelic services, have cranked up their marketing machine by putting out new catalogues at a rapid rate.

'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.

Paris' Bike Days - are coming around again and the RATP has opened up a new(?) centre in the centre of the city where bikes can be rented and tours can be joined. Bikes can also be parked andposter: films de femmes, creteil they can do small repairs too. So make a note of it: La Maison Roue Libre is at 95. bis, Rue Rambuteau, Paris 1. This is on the north side of the Forum des Halles. Open all the time from 9:00 to 19:00. Info. Tel.: 01 53 46 43 77.

'Carnets' for Euros - if you have Euro cheques or Euro plastic, the RATP will start accepting the new currency on Monday, 15. March for payment when you buy métro tickets, carnets, weekly or monthly tickets, or any of the combo passes they sell. Apparently you can do this already, but on 15. March all prices will be posted in Euros and francs.

Richard Galliano - takes his trio for a concert trip for two shows nightly at the Sunset, 60. Rue des Lombards, Paris 1. Until next Sunday, 28. February; except on Monday. Tickets available at fnac, Virgin and Billetel. Info. Tel.: 01 40 26 46 60.

Long-Running Exhibitions, Shows and Events:

Painters At the Marine Museum - For a pleasant museum full of many wonders. 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.

Royal Paintings: - actually in the Ile-de-France, at Fountainbleau, there is an exhibition of a collection 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.

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 sayposter: chorus hauts de seine 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. On account of the International peace talks - possibly not yet over - in Fontainbleau, but sure to phone first.

Tropiques Métis: - is a program of plays and Carnival 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.

For this week, because of school holidays, there are two extra events. 'Le Petit Cabaret' will have a musical comedy called 'Babils,' which is followed by an atelier session. At these, costumes are to be created, for 'Le Carnaval, next Sunday, 28. February, between 14:00 and 16:00, with the last hour being a costume ball. Info. Tel.: 01 40 67 90 32.

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. Entry: 12 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 44 17 60 00.

Paris' Exceedingly 'Long' Mois de la Photo - 10th Edition: - This annual 'one-month' event kicked off late last October and is continuing well into the new year. Luckily we have the Web and the very long 'Mois de la Photo' has its own site, where there should be a complete program; possibly with dates running right up to the beginning of the 11th edition, in October.

The street name of the Web site mentioned above is Maison Européenne de la Photo and its address is 5-7. rue de Fourcy, Paris 4. Métro: Saint-Paul or Pont-Marie. Info. Tel.: 01 44 78 75 07.

Another Photo-Web sites worth a visit is Centre National de la Photo, which is located in the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, 11. rue Berryer, Paris 8. Info. Tel.: 01 53 76 12 32.

Cashemires Parisiens: - Exhibition at the Musée Galliera - Musée de la Mode et du Costume de la Ville de Paris. Final day is next Sunday, 28. February.

Hôtel de Ville Skating Rink - Patinoire - Eisbahn:: Place de la Hôtel de Ville: the official Christmas decor is gone but the skaters keep twirling around; with two extra twirl-go-rounds at either end of ice-skating rink. Also currently on view: the winning works of a city-wide kid's drawing competition. No charge for the rink. Ice-skate rentals. Until Sunday, 7. March 1999. Open from 9:00 to 22:00 daily.

Circus Alexis Gruss: - is Gruss senior and he goes in for 'classic' circus, elegant circus, circus with non-stop costumes and the main acts are done by dancing horses and lesser acts have lots of trained animals too. Until Sunday, 7. March; on the Pelouse de Madrid, in the Bois de Boulogne. Métro: Info. Tel.: 01 44 17 96 22.

Scheduled Eclipse Still On: - Make a careful note of this and keep it where you can find it. Do more than tie a string to your finger. Thereposter: sncf ile de france will be an eclipse of the sun by the moon, on Wednesday, 11. August, between 12:16 and 12:32. In Rouen and Reims and 4,998 other towns and villages, it will be total; in Paris only 90 percent, which is not too shabby

Baring heavy overcast, this will be very visible - or is it nearly invisible? - in the Paris region. This sort of celestial event has not occurred since 1724 when Louis XV was a young lad of 14. If you can't make up your mind, the next eclipse is programmed for 2081. If eclipses are your bag, book your flight today!

Some of the above items have been carried over for many issues of this magazine. If you require more information - such as addresses or phone numbers - check 'All Past Issues' either from here, or from the top or bottom of any page in the magazine.

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