Speed-Record Set at Achères

photo: pont des arts

Even in the rain, Ousmane Sow's Little Big Horn is an attraction on the Pont des Arts.

Coming Up: The 'Foire de Paris'

Paris:- Saturday, 17. April 1999:- - I don't suppose many people realize that a world's land-speed record was once set at Achères, near Paris. I don't suppose many people even know where Achères is; so I looked it up for you so I would know where it is too.

On 29. April 1899, which was a Saturday, a great crowd of about 200 people went out to some flat corn field near Achères, to see some 'steering-wheel maniacs' try to beat the century mark - in kilometres! - in automobiles. From this humble beginning, we now have Formula One racing, so don't laugh.

At the time, it was believed that going faster than 70 kph would burst a person's blood vessels, so the crowd of spectators were pretty much the same as today's hordes watching Grand Prix racing. Anyway, the previous December, a car-racing journalist had achieved the dangerously high speed of 63.154 kph - thus smashing the land-speed record which had been set by a bicycle racer.

And this was done in an electric car. It was Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubal versus Camille Jenatzy. On 17. January, Jenatzy had clocked 66.664 and the Count had beaten him by going over 70 kph later the same day. So Jenatzy ordered a torpedo body from Léon-Aucher who ran a garage at Reims, and the result was named the 'Jamais Content.'

On that fateful Saturday, 100 years ago, threatening rain could not keep the spectators away. Tall and thin, Jenatzy got into his electric red torpedo, and without a wisp of dust nor roar of motor, pulverized the land-speed record by hitting 105.882 kph. With this achievement, Achères became the speed capital of the world!

Starting from Tuesday, 20. April and continuing until Saturday, 29. May, this historic event will be celebrated in Achères - mostly at the local library and at the Jean-Cocteau Cultural Centre. From 26. April until 26. May, the original 'Jamais Contente' will be on gleaming view at the Salle Boris-Vian.

Achères can be reached by taking the RER line 'A5' to Achères-Grand Cormier or the RER 'A3' to Achères-Ville. One branch goes to Poissy and the other goes to Cergy; but with either, get off at the stop after Maisons-Lafitte. It'll be worth the trip.

88th Foire de Paris - the Paris home show is replaying itself for its customary spring extravaganza of too much of everything with its 23 'salons' which make up the 'fair.' Besides poster: foire de paris 99the usual attraction of the annual inventor's show - the Concours Lépine - there will be an 'Ateliers du Talent' section, featuring artisans and creators.

Thirsty visitors should not forget a large part of the foire is devoted to French food and drink, with a special Ladies Day on Tuesday, 4. May. This is after the prizes will be given for the best wines on 29. April, the day after the show starts. Wine-drinking singers will be featured on Sunday, 2. May.

Paris-Expo - at the Porte de Versailles - from Wednesday, 28. April to Sunday, 9. May. Daily from 10:00 to 19:00; weekends from 9:30 to 19:00. Friday, 30. April and Tuesday, 4. May, open until 22:00. Usual entry charge is 50 francs, but after 19:00 it drops to 25 francs.

Coiffures / Sculptures d'Océanie - features two series of spectacular headgear and hairdos from the South Pacific areas of Nouvelle Bretagne and Irian Jaya, which is western Indonesia. These objects cannot be done justice in photographs, so it is a rare occasion to be able to see them in Paris. At the Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie, 293. Avenue Daumesil, Paris 12. Métro: Porte Dorée. Except Tuesdays, open daily from 10:00 to 17:30 and on weekends until 18:00. Info. Tel.: 01 44 74 84 80.

Paris Uni - if somebody comes up to me and asks me where to find the Sorbonne, I am going to tell them the go to the Mairie - the City Hall - of the 5th arrondissement. This is not actually far from the Sorbonne, but what is better, it has an exhibition about the Paris universities and 'Grandes Ecoles.'

I may even go myself, because the 'University of Paris' is like a huge campus, spread all over the city. This exhibition puts it virtually in one place, with three main themes; all illustrated by many photos. On show until Monday, 24. May; at the Mairie of the 5th, 21. Place du Panthéon, Paris 5. Info. Tel.: 01 43 25 30 30.

Catacombs Photo Show - Once upon a time, Parisians were buried near where they lived, worked and worshiped. Then came another, later time, when cemeteries took up too much valuable downtown real estate, and the poor bones had to find other lodgings.

Some of the bones are on permanent view at Paris' Catacombs. These are adorned with pithy signs and the photographer, Jean-Yves Le Roy has recorded some of them for this exhibition, which can be viewed before actually viewing the actual bones. The texts are not only in French, but in Latin, Greek, Italian and even Swedish - so take a translator.

"Arrête! C'est ici l'Empire de la mort," is one example that has been photographed at the Catacombs, 1. Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert-Rochereau. Open from Tuesday to Friday, from 14:00 to 18:00; and on weekends from 9:00 to 11:00 and from 14:00 to 16:00. On view until 14. February 2000, no less.

Paris' Ottoman Springtime

Last week one of the posters was for 'L'Art Ottoman,' which is a show currently on at the Trianon de Bagatelle. With the 'Temps du Maroc' and the Egyptian mixup, I neglected to mention the details for this one.

Paris is celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire, which started with Sultan Mehemet II in Constantinople - an 'open' city, lavishly decorated according to the seasons, with a passion for nature. Objects from various collections make up the show as well as an exhibition by 70 photographers, who have rendered Istanbul in all of its variety.

Trianon de Bagatelle, Parc de Bagatelle, Route de Sèvres, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16. Métro: Pont de Neuilly and then bus 43 for the rest of the way. This exhibition continues until 1. August. Entry to the park is 10 francs, and to the Trianon, 28 francs.

The Other Related Shows:

Meknès Gate at Concorde - was featured in issue 4.15. Its full name is 'La Porte de Meknès Bab El Mansour.' Its 3000 square metres of complex decor is being recreated by Catherine Feff - in France - but directly from the original at Meknès, and it will only be fully complete in June. As it is already 15 metres high, it is hard to overlook - but don't miss it!

Maroc - les Trésors du Royaume - is an exhibition featuring more than 400 works from Morocco's long prehistory, up to the Islamic period. A final part of the exhibition deals with European painters who worked in Morocco in the late 19th century - such as Matisse and Dufy.

'Le Temps du Maroc' - until Sunday,18. July - can be visited at the Petit Palais, Avenue du Winston Churchill, Paris 8. Métro: Champs-Elysées Clemenceau. Except Monday, open from 10:00 to 17:40; to 20:00 on Thursdays. Catalogue available. Info. Tel.: 01 42 65 12 73.

L'Art Egyptien au Temps des Pyramides - by total coincidence, this exhibition is across the street from Morocco in the Petit Palais, at the Grand Palais. Paris exists in a fever of constant Egyptomania. This Egyptian exhibition focuses on the time of the pyramids - from 2700 to 2100 BC. This is also one of the 'big shows' and exhibits have been borrowed from the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Royal Ontario Museum.

L'Art Egyptien - until 12 July, at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Square Jean Perrin, Paris 8. Champs-Elysées Clemenceau. Closed on Tuesdays, otherwise reservations are required for visits from 10:00 to 13:00 - no reservations required from 13:00 to 20:00; until 22:00 on Wednesdays. Entry: 56 francs with reservations, 50 francs without. Catalogue available. Info. Tel.: 01 44 13 17 17.

Touhami Ennadre - is a photographer who has given up all narrative to concentrate on the subjects of his images of things - religious. Until Wednesday, 30. May, at the

At the Maison Européenne de la Photo, 5-7. rue de Fourcy, Paris 4. Métro: Saint-Paul or Pont-Marie. Info. Tel.: 01 44 78 75 07.

L'Autre Rive - is the current exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe. This exhibition focuses on Lebanon and its '12 civilizations,' from the time of the Phoenicians - about 3000 BC - up to the time of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Until Friday, 30. April. Open daily except Monday, from 10:00 to 18:00; on Saturday until 20:00. Entry: 45 francs, with tickets at the Institut or at fnac outlets.

Institut du Monde Arabe, 1. Rue des Fosses-Saint-Bernard, Paris 5. Métro: Jussieu, Sully-Morland or Cardinal-Lemoine. Also in the courtyard, under a tent-top, an Arabian souk and a Lebanese restaurant. Access for the handicapped. Info. Tel.: 01 40 51 38 38.

brochure: pierre prinsThe 'Forgotten' Impressionist - is Pierre Prins, who did not expose anything at the first exhibition of the Impressionists at Nadar's atelier. Most of the 80 works on display now at the Musée Fournaise look fresh, and some even glitter. The small print next to nearly every work also says it is a photograph of the original. Amazing photographs that glitter like the original paintings or pastels. Also not the be missed - for the museum itself, as described in issue 4.15.

Musée Fournaise, Ile des Impressionistes, 78400 Chatou. RER 'A' - a Metropole reader says the Chatou-Croissy station is the best. Open Thursday and Friday from 11:00 to 17:00 and on Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00 to 18:00. Groups can make reservations for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. Entry: 25 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 34 80 63 22.

Coming Shows, Events and Exhibitions:

Paris' Musée d'Art Moderne - 'Painting After Abstraction, 1955 to 1975' is the coming exhibition. The painters Martin Barré, Jean Degottex, Raymond Hains, Simon Hantaï and Jacques Villeglé will be featured. Beginning Thursday, 20. May and going through to Sunday, 19. September.

'Le Vagabond du Surréalisme' - is Georges Malkine's nickname for this coming exhibition, which begins on Wednesday, 28. April. Malkine is considered to be one of the founders of surrealism. He lived in the USA from 1949 until returning to Paris in 1966. The exhibition will feature 70 works, from the periods of 1925-30 and 1960-70. In the '20's, he was the first 'informalist.' Coming to the Pavillon des Arts, Les Halles, Porte Rambuteau, Terrace Lautréamont, Paris 1. To be open from 11:30 to 18:30, except on Mondays and holidays.

The above are new or coming events. Immediately below are long-running events which are nearing their final days. These are followed by current events and way down at the end you will find events that still have a long time to run.


Un Ami de Cézanne et Van Gogh; le Docteur Gachet. - this exhibition is at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, until Monday, 26. April. Open daily except Tuesdays, from 10:00 to 20:00; on Wednesdaysbrochure: expo musee afrique et oceanie until 22:00. Reservations required for visits before 13:00. Tickets available at fnac, Virgin and Carrefour. Resa Info. Tel.: 08 03 80 88 03.

At the Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie.

Laves Emaillées - Prolongation - until Sunday, 2. May. See them in the atelier of Ary Scheffer, at the Musée de la Vie Romantique, 16. Rue Chaptal, Paris 9. Métro: Pigalle. Except Mondays, open daily from 10:00 to 17:40. Info. Tel.: 01 48 74 95 38.

David Hockey - Dialogue avec Picasso - is a small exhibition I should have mentioned earlier, as it has been running for a long time at the Musée Picasso. The good news is that the 20-odd works on display will be around until Monday, 3. May. Musée Picasso, 5. Rue Thorigny, Paris 4. Métro: Filles du Calvaire or Saint-Paul. Except Tuesdays, from 9:30 to 18:00. Info. Tel.: 01 42 71 25 21.

David Hockney's 'Espace / Paysage' at Beaubourg - This is Hockney's first reappearance in Paris as a painter since 1974. This exhibition scenes of the Grand Canyon represented with a panoramic collage of panels, 12 metres wide by three high.

This Hockney show continues until Monday, 26. April; from 10:00 to 22:00. Closed Tuesdays. This is in Beaubourg's Galerie Sud. Info. Tel.: 01 44 78 46 25.

The The Pompidou Centre - AKA Beaubourg: is open from Monday to Friday, from 11:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00. Info Tel.: 01 53 01 86 53 and Fax.: 33 1 42 72 97 47.

Little Big Horn On the Pont des Arts - 11 near-full-size horses and 28 people are African sculptor Ousmane Sow's representation of the principal actors of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

The Pont des Arts makes a good gallery; there is a lot of light, except at night. The bridge is a good open-air hang-out spot, and Ousmane Sow's sculptures make it very lively - his figures are very dynamic and strong.

This outdoor show is not only free, but you get to cross the Seine at the same time. The official opening day for the public was on Saturday, and the figures will remain in place until Thursday, 20. May. If you are in Paris, don't miss it.

Around the Death of Richard, the Lion-Heart - is actually about the original document for the peace treaty between Richard the Lion-Heart and Philippe Auguste, concluded at Louviers on 15. January 1196. The exhibition also includes related documents and other graphic souvenirs.

At the Archives Nationales, Musée de l'Histoire de France, Hôtel de Soubise, 60. Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Paris 3. Métro: Rambuteau. Closed Tuesdays; open Monday to Friday, from 12:00 to 17:45; and weekends from 13:45 to 17:45. Until Monday, 31. May. Entry: 20 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 40 27 62 18.

La Poste - will be at the Foire de Paris (see above) with its own 'Collector's Fair' for the duration of the fair. Look for La Poste in Hall 5, at number 21 in corridor 'U.'

'La Poste's' services for philatelists are accessible by the Web to interested collectors. La Poste offers information aboutbrochure: musee daubigny its subscription service in English, German, Spanish and Italian, in addition to French. La Poste also accepts payments made with Visa or Mastercard.

Jean Racine 1699-1999 - gets a big remembrance in the Yvelines department this spring, with theatre, conferences, tours, an exhibition and concerts being staged. For details of the full program, try the Web site for the Ile-de-France, which is not the same as the one mentioned in earlier issues.

In addition to the city of Paris, the Ile-de-France is composed of seven other departments. Yvelines gets mentioned a lot because of Versailles and Saint Germain-en-Laye, but the biggest department, Seine-et-Marne gets mentioned only seldom, even though it is the location of our local Disneyland. Check out the Web site for details.

Le Béton à Paris - you might not think reinforced-cement would be particularly interesting, but you might not be a cement fan. Apparently, some cements no longer look like cement. I have no start or end date for this, but it is at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, 21. Avenue Morland, Paris 4. Métro: Sully-Morland. A catalogue by the same name as the expo is available. Info. Tel.: 01 42 76 33 97.

At the Maison Européenne de la Photo you can see the 'Courant Continu' show by Ralph Gibson as well as the 'Portraits - Réel/Virtuel' exhibitionbrochure: chekov: le chemin by Catherine Ikam and Louis Fléri. On show until Sunday, 30. May. The address is 5-7. rue de Fourcy, Paris 4. Métro: Saint-Paul or Pont-Marie. Info. Tel.: 01 44 78 75 07.

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.

Long-Running Exhibitions, Shows and Events:

Attention: Romans! - In Rome, residents can get a Paris museum pass, which allows free entry to most the city's museums - not the national museums - and of course it works in reverse for Parisians too. However, to get the 'Carte Paris-Rome' you need to be able to prove residence, so this is not for everybody. I for one, will have to pay to get into the Mercati Traianei e Foro di Traiano.

L'Age d'Or de la Céramique Chinoise - is a public exhibition of the private collection known as the Meiyintang Collection, and it features 99 selected pieces from the beginning of the Sui dynasty in 581 to the period of the Yuan dynasty, or about 1368.

Musée Cernuschi, 7. Avenue Vélasquez, Paris 8. Métro: Villiers. Open from 10:00 to 17:40 daily except Mondays; until 27. June. Info. Tel.: 01 45 63 50 75.

Les Hommes - in 100 films, at the Forum des Images - continues until 29. June. This is in the Forum des Halles, by the Porte Saint-Eustache entry, Paris 1. Info. Tel.: 01 44 76 62 00.

'Saint- Pétersbourg/Vavin - is about the first lot of 'Russians' artists to invade Paris. From Vasilieff, Chagall, Soutine, Orloff, Zadkine and all the others, here are 40 of their works.

Many came from Saint Petersburg and stayed first at the atelier-village of La Ruche, to form the first 'Ecole de Paris.' Later they took over the area of the Champagne-Première and danced at the Bal Bullier.

A parallel exhibition features the Slovenian artist and photographer, Veno Pilon. He began at the Beaux-Arts in Florenceposter: vivez l'opera and washed up in Paris in 1926, to settle into the Montparno melting pot with ease - and he recorded it in line, portraits and photographic halftones - the terraces and the artists.

Musée du Montparnasse, 21. Avenue du Maine, Paris 15. Métro: Montparnasse. The Russian show continues until 1. August. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 13:00 to 19:00. Entry: 20 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 42 22 91 96.

Les Rues de Paris au XVIIIe Siècle - 'As seen by Louis Sébastien Mercier.' In the years before the Revolution, the writer Louis Sébastien Mercier (1740-1814) ploughed the streets of Paris, threaded his way through the crowds, looked in shop windows, observed the work of artisans, heard the cries of street vendors - 'for 30 years.'

Mercier set it all down in his 'Tableau de Paris,' written between 1781 and 1789, in 12 volumes with 1,050 chapters. He knows whether Parisians were eating cakes, bread or nothing.

Paris' history museum, the Musée Carnavalet, is showing a selection of Mercier's works - reduced to 8,000 pages - along with a whole assembly of paintings, household objects and even pots and bones dug up by the Vieux Paris commission.

Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris - until Sunday, 20. June. 23. Rue de Sévigné, Paris 3. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:40. Entry: 35 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 42 72 21 13.

Le Théâtre du Châtelet - will not reopen until October of this year, but the reception area of the Hôtel de Ville now has an exhibition featuring the history of Châtelet and the theatre. This exhibition is certainly worth a look even if there is no entry charge and it is open daily from 9:30 to 18:00, except on Sundays and public holidays. This exhibition continues until 15. May. At the Salon d'Accueil, 29. Rue de Rivoli, Paris 4.

The Musée de la Poupée - the Doll Museum - is hidden at the end of a dead-end alley, about two minutes' walk from the Pompidou Centre. The current special exhibition features rabbits and other long-eared 'objects' - until 30. May.

There is also a permanent exhibition of over 300 dolls, dating from 1850. These are presented in 36 scenes, along with model period furniture. The boutique features items made especially for the museum, and has doll parts for collectors as well as general doll souvenirs.

Musée de la Poupée, Impasse Berthaud, Paris 3. Métro: Rambuteau. Except Monday, open daily from 11:00 to 18:00. Boutique next door. From the east side of the Rue Beaubourg, turn into the alley, where you will see signposts for the museum. Info. Tel.: 01 42 72 73 11.

Musée Française de la Photographie - is not in Paris but in Bièvres. There is a train line running through Bièvres, between Versailles-Chantiers and Massy-Palaiseau, but the museum is a good 1700 metres from the station.

The current exhibition of photos by Chrystèle Lerisse continues until 20. July. Although there will be 60 photos on view, all shot between 1995 and 1998, they will be presented in the format of the negative: six by six centimetres. If adventure is your game - because this is 'out of town' a bit, the address is 78. Rue Paris, Bièvres. Info. Tel.: 01 69 35 16 50.

Historic Writer's Route - is a tour of 12 famous French writer's homes, located west of Paris on both sides of the Seine valley, as far as Normandy. Even if you don't actually visit the houses, this would be a good trip and would probably take a couple of days of wandering around. There may be more information about it on the Web site of the Ile-de-France.

Musée Rambolitrain - may be an odd name, but it is one of the very few model train museums around. It has more than 4,000 engines and wagons and 400 metres of tiny tracks. According to the photos, there are also steam trains for riding, and a special weekend for them is planned for Mayday. Open on holidays, but otherwise open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 17:30. Entry for big people is 22 francs and for normal people from four to 12 it is 14 francs. In Rambouillet, 4. Place Jeanne d'Arc. Info. Tel.: 01 34 83 15 93.

Closed - Temporarily - The Maison de Balzac is currently closed for renovations. It will reopen on Thursday, 20. May with an exhibition entitled 'L'Artiste Selon Balzac.' The museum's library has closed until 18. September. Maison de Balzac, 47. Rue Raynouard, Paris 16. Info. Tel.: 01 42 24 56 38.

Hats Off for Scheduled Eclipse: - Hats will not be necessary for the scheduled eclipse of the sunbrochure: abbaye royaumont by the moon, on Wednesday, 11. August - between 12:16 and 12:32 - which will be total in Rouen and Reims and 4,998 other towns and villages. Umbrellas may be.

In Paris, the eclipse will be only 90 percent-full, which will probably require some lights to be turned on for 16 minutes. This sort of celestial event has not occurred since 1724. If in doubt about this worthwhile event, the next eclipse is programmed for 2081. If you are indifferent to eclipses, plan to see a movie instead.

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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