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 n 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.


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