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photo: cafe le celtic

A big café near the city hall of the 3rd arrondissement.

In Paris' 18th Century - And Older - Streets

Paris:- Monday, 1. March 1999:- There is always a little trickle of mail coming in from readers who want to know what will be on at the Opéra in Paris in June of 2000. I can't get an answer to this question by reading any daily paper.

Over a period of time my name has found its way into various address books and databanks, so I now have a fairly steady flow of incoming press releases; from some sources these flows are more like floods. From others, there's a good flow, followed by nothing.

This stuff could be managed in a thorough way if I were a manager-type, but I'm not. Half the time I find if I 'manage' to make a phone call, I will not get what I ask for. The other half of the time, I get somewhat more than I expected.

Paris is an important source for finding out about events scheduled for the future. Paris sends me stuff. Some comes from the Hôtel de Ville and a lot more comes from various offices, scattered all over the place, which all have names that are nearly identical.

Last Wednesday, I thought I'd better track down more information about one of these announcements. However I thought the Seine might be flooding, so I went and looked at it first, near Pont Marie.

Then, because it was there, I went to the Bibliothèque Forney; because it is in the Hôtel de Sens - a very old joint - and because of itsphoto: flooded rive droite expressway exhibition of clothes irons; a decidedly odd item. In this way I learned about this public library's specialty - all about art and how it's done.

The right bank expressway; covered by the Seine last Wednesday.

Since it is in the same area, I tromped over to the Pavillon de l'Arsenal - city architecture - to find out why I haven't heard from them lately; to find they are building a new expo about cement. On leaving, I noticed the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, and wondered what its specialty might be.

At this point, I was ready to go to my initial destination - a culture office in the Marais. I got to say hello and was immediately sent to the Musée Carnavalet; where I was immediately sent back out on the Rue Sévigné, to their press service office.

What I found out is below; here I continue this odyssey - because I wantedphoto: hotel sens, bibliotheque forney some more detail from the Archives Nationales - in the same Marais neighborhood - about a show they have coming up. To round it off, I had some photos I'd promised to return the Centre Pompidou's press service, and this would be my final stop.

Except for Arsenal, at each stop I picked up or was given more press material - releases, folders, photos, slides and paper, paper, paper. The unscheduled pop-in at the Swiss Cultural Centre added to the load.

The Bilbiothèque Forney is in the Hôtel de Sens.

At the end of the trek, the score was three out of four, with two unscheduled 'scores.' My bag was two kilos heavier and my feet felt the same way. An untypical Wednesday in Paris, with just the Seine photo, and no other report for a feature; but with a pile of bumpf to read about upcoming events.

You see, I don't make everything up. I get out the shoe soles, and look for facts. Once in a while.

Les Rues de Paris au XVIIIe Siècle - is the title of the one-page press release that set off my march around the Marais on Wednesday.

The subtitle is, loosely translated, 'As seen by Louis Sébastien Mercier.' Then it begins, "A few years before the Revolution, the writer Louis Sébastien Mercier (1740-1814) ploughed the streets of Paris, threadedbrochure: les trois pucelles©parismusees his way through the crowds, looked in shop windows, observed the work of artisans, heard the cries of street vendors - and so on and etc. - until it gets to a period and then says - 'for 30 years.'

Mercier made notes of everything he saw and heard for 30 years! Not content with this, he set it all down in his 'Tableau de Paris,' written between 1781 and 1789. In 12 volumes with 1,050 chapters.

'Les Trois Pucelles' by Etienne Jeaurat. Paris Musées©1999
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