Under the Sky, Under the Stars

photo: parc georges brassens

The Parc Georges Brassens, in the south of
the 15th arrondissement.

The Century's Last Stamp Show

Paris:- Saturday, 26. June 1999:- After relentlessly plugging La Poste's Mondial du Timbre, which is also known at Philexfrance 1999, it is nearly here with a start date of Friday, 2. July, and continuing until Sunday, 11. July.

In addition to the little pieces of artworks we normally call postage stamps, this exhibition will fill up 50,000 square metres of space; with historical displays of various postal delivery systems - by road, rail, boat and air.

And La Poste being La Poste, will also be issuing a whole raft of special 'first day' stamps for the occasion. One is 'Cérés 1849-1999' with a hologram, another is for the celebration of the year 2000, and of coursebrochure: mondial du timbre, philexfrance 99 there is one for this year's eclipse as well. Extra special will be the stamps showing their value in Euros as well as Francs.

Philexfrance '99 - Paris-Expo Hall 1, Porte de Versailles, Paris 15. Métro: Porte de Versailles. Friday, 2. July until Sunday, 11. July; from 14:00 to 20:00 on 2. July, 10:00 to 19:00 for the other days. Info. Tel.: 01 56 53 99 99.

Summertime Is Festival Time

La Villette Jazz Festival - features 50 concerts in eight days, winding up on Sunday, 4. July. There is one free concert a day in the Grande Halle; the others have to be booked. Some names: John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, the Jan Garbarek Group, the David Murray Big Band, Steve Coleman and Herbie Hancock, to list a few. Evening combos tickets are available. For the program, Info. Tel.: 01 40 03 77 21 and for reservations, Tel.: 01 44 84 44 84. Tickets also available at fnac outlets. At La Villette, in the park, the Grande Halle and in the Cié de la Musique. Paris 19. Métro: Porte de Pantin.

Festival de Saint-Denis - is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For a month, Saint-Denis will be home to classical music, flamenco, music from Morocco, some Spanish 'palm' music, which is part of much else 'arabo-andalou.'

After the exotic there will be accordions, dance, 'Magic Mirrors,' cabaret, jazz, classical soloists - both musicians and singers, and much more until the last performance on Thursday, 1. July. Visit the festival's Web site, or Info. Tel.: 01 48 13 06 07.

Chien Cru - Cirque Bâtard - the Cie Cahin Caha presents a melange of French formality and American 'roughness' in this show featuring three performing artists and three circus artists; part French and part American. This 'raw dog of pure beef' starts in mid-July and continues until 4. September. From Wednesdays to Saturdays, at 20:00, in the Espace Chapitaux, Parc de la Villette, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de la Villette.

The Iffy Les Mis' - somewhere, sometime during the week I am certain I read a story about a sudden administrative refusal to allow a production of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables to be put on in the Arènes de Lutèce during July. Now, I cannot find the story.

What I am left with, is the poster, which includes the sponsorship of the Ville de Paris. In case I am wrong and dreamt the story, Denis Llorca's Les Misérables is supposed to run from Monday, 5. July until Saturday, 24. July, at 19:00 daily. Arènes de Lutèce, Rue de Navarre, Paris 5. Métro: Cardinal Lemoine, Jussieu or Place Monge. Reservations at fnac, Virgin and other points. Info. Tel.: 01 44 90 00 96.

Les Nouveaux Plaisirs - is Versailles' main spring and summer program, featuring theatre, music and dance. On the royal menu are Molière, the Ballet à l'Opéra Royal, Rossini, Boulez, and several attractions with the Topkapi theme. Many performance dates have passed, but some are still to come. Check out Spectacles au Château for details.

''Ciel une Eclipse' - the Hôtel de Ville's reception area has been turned into an eclipse exhibit. The title of the exhibit either means an 'eclipse in the sky' or 'Heavens! An Eclipse.' Astronomers think eclipses are grand occasions for viewing moons, planets and suns; but this year the general public is invited too, because a near-total eclipse is combined with the last or second-last year of a millennium.

This summer's eclipse is scheduled for Wednesday, 11. August, between 12:16 and 12:34. In Paris it will not be total. For this, go to Chantilly or Senlis, to the north. If you do intend to - look - at the eclipse, be sure to be wearing proper eye protection. Ordinary sunglasses or ski glasses are not sufficient. The eclipse exhibition in the reception office has special glasses available, for about 60 francs.

Since the next eclipse after this one will not be until 2081, to find out more about this one or to get prepared to view it, check out the following Web sites: the Université de Strasbourg, the Institut de Mécanique Céleste and one known simply as the 'Eclipse Solaire '99.'

Salon d'Acceuil, Hôtel de Ville, 29. Rue de Rivoli,Paris 4. Métro: Hôtel de Ville. Open daily except for Sundays and holidays, from 9:30 to 18:00. No entry charge for the eclipse exhibition, which continues until 25. September. A free brochure about the eclipse is available.

Solaire - is a current, and free, exhibition at the Observatoire de Paris. Ordinarily I would not know about this, but onephoto: expo soleil, observatorie of Metropole's readers wanted to know when the Observatory's 'towers' had been torn down - and I went by to find out. The place is intact, but I paid so much attention to the answer that I forgot about the exhibition.

The entry to the Paris Observatoire is open for the current exhibition.

It is a great chance to see the inside of this building which is open only rarely. Did you know our planet is speeding along in 'our' galaxy at the rate of 250 kilometres per second? Find out more about 'our' sun and the eclipse at the Observatoire de Paris, 61. Avenue de l'Observatoire, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert-Rochereau or RER Port Royal. Robot Info. Tel.: 01 40 51 21 74.

Renan by Nadar At Issy - there is an exhibition of about 30 photographic portraits by Nadar, of his contemporaries, at the Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer. The connection is Ernst Renan, who grew up in Issy, and was born three years after Gaspard Félix Tournachon, who was known as Nadar - an extraordinary character, who Renan thought, ended up as a refugee in the 'Botany Bay' of photography. Other faces on show are Dumas, Hugo, George Sand, Balzac and Thiers.

Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer, 16. Rue Auguste Gervais, Issy-les-Moulineaux. Métro: Mairie de Issy. Until 28. November; open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 10:00 to 19:00.

More Photographs - are on view in an exhibition lasting until 5. September which features Roland Topor, Helmut Newton, Alice Springs, Roberto Pellegrinuzzi and Charles Matton. At the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 5-7. Rue de Fourcy, Paris 4. Métro: Saint-Paul. Info. Tel.: 01 44 78 75 00.

Beneath the Maps - maps can contain more information than may be apparent, and for this reason they were once jealously guarded by those in power. A history of maps, especially those of Paris, are featured in all their details in a current exhibition at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal, 21. Boulevard Morland, Pa ris 4. Métro: Sully Morland. Info. Tel.: 01 42 76 33 97.

Theatre In the Green - Four shows will be presented outside, weather permitting, between now and 3. October. 'Le Joueur de Flute' is for children, and it continues until 18. July; on Friday, Saturdayposter: cirque chien cru, la villette and Sunday of each week. 'Une Chaise Anglaise' will be on from 24. July to 29. August; on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. 'Volpone' runs concurrently starting on 31. July, from Tuesdays to Saturdays, until 29. August. To close, there will be Shakespeare's 'Peines d'Amour Perdu,' from 4. September to 4. October, on Saturdays and Sundays. All in the magical Shakespeare Garden, within the Jardin du Pré-Catelan, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16. Info. Tel.: 01 40 19 95 33.

Le Mois de L'Estampe - The Month of Engraving in Paris allows the public to visit the ateliers of engraver-artists, the galleries where their works are shown and the institutions that support the art form. The Month of the Engraving has two Websites dedicated to it. The 'month' continues until Wednesday, 30. June. Info. Tel.: 01 43 21 15 10.

Hommage à Moustapha Dimé - will feature a Senegalese pal of Ousmane Sow's, who lived on the island of Gorée, out in the Atlantic off the coast of Dakar. Dimé, who died in 1998, is not as well-known as Sow but was picking up prizes for his sculptures at Johannesburg and at the Biannual of Venice. See the present exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville's Salle Saint-Jean, 5. Rue Lobau, Paris 4. Métro: Hôtel de Ville. The hours are from 11:00 to 19:00 daily except Mondays, until 19. September.

Demures - is the name of the new exhibition at the Musée Zadkine. Two invitations to the vernissage have arrived before the press release so I can't tell you what this is about yet. This exhibition of sculpture will continue until 17. October. At the Musée Zadkine, 100 bis, Rue d'Assas, Paris 6. Open daily from 10:00 to 17:30, except Mondays.

Posters by Jacques Nathan-Garamond - if you like dramatic posters this is an exhibition to see; and this sort of graphic show is a specialty of this city library. At the Bibliothèque Forney, Hôtel de Sens, 1. Rue Figuier, Paris 4.. Métro: Pont-Marie or Saint-Paul. Info. Tel.: 01 42 78 14 60.

Park-a-Car, Rent-a-Bike - the surface parking at the Place de la Concorde and the underground lot at Saint-Eustache - Forum des Halles, are now renting bikes. This is part of the RATP's 'Roue Libre' bike operation. If there is sufficient demand for it, other parking locations will adopt the service. 'Roue Libre' charges 30 francs per day during the week.

Other than 'Roue Libre,' bike rentals in Paris cost between 20 and 30 francs per hour; 50 to 60 francs for half-day, and 75 to 90 francs for a whole day. All the major bike rental firms operate seven days a week, usually between 9:00 and 19:00.

There are also two rental locations in the Bois de Boulogne; one at Porte d'Auteuil and the other at the roundabout by the Jardin d'Acclimatation; Métro: Sablons in Neuilly. The spot to rent a bike at the Bois de Vincennes is at the esplanade of the Château, or on nice days, at the landing stage by the Daumesnil lake. Bikes can also be rented at the Carrefour des Anciens-Combattants in Boulogne-Billancourt, and at Saint-German-en-Laye, in front of the Hôtel de Ville. Same tariffs as 'Roue Libre.'

And you can also visit The Best Biking Guide to Paris by Rose Burke. If you're a cyclotourist, this guide is for you.

The Big Shows:

Paris' Ottoman Summer

Paris is celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire, which started with Sultan Mehemet II in Constantinople. However this generalization includes an Egyptian show, and a whole raft of exhibitions concerning Morocco.

'L'Art Ottoman' is mainly a show of photographs currently on at the Trianon de Bagatelle. Objects fromposter: les miserables 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.

Posted and announced; but not certain to perform in Paris' Roman arena.

Les Trésors du Sultan Topkapi à Versailles - is a sample of Topkapi's collection, going back through centuries to the treasures of Suleiman, the First s well as the Magnificent. At the Château, continuing until... when? Info. Tel.: 01 30 84 74 00.

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