The Last 'Armada du Siècle'

photo: waiting for bastille day

Some people were securing positions at the
Bastille on Friday.

Bastille Day - the Firemen's Balls

Paris:- Saturday, 10. July 1999:- tonight's France 2's tv-news featured the spectacular 'Armada du Siècle' for about one minute and about seven minutes at the end of the broadcast were devoted to the Tour de France - showing the difference between the possibly 55 million who will turn out to watch the 'Tour' pass and the seven million who will gather in the Rouen area for the 'Armada.'

The Tour de France is on every year and takes up to three weeks. This is the last time in this century an 'armada' of this size will gather together anywhere in the world. The former is about the next century - sweat, sports, money and drugs - and the latter is about the last century. Both feature creaks and groans. TV-news knows the score and allots its time accordingly.

With this rant out of the way, let's move along right into what Paris has to offer you this summer. The following list of events is far from complete - waaay less than what is actually happening, but it's all I can shoehorn in here without the page weighing in at a kilo of digitals.

Summer In Paris - a Selection:

Summer Festivals Everywhere - are featured on Télérama's Web site, after clicking on 'Festivals.' I came across the guide while looking for Rouen's Armada du Siècle. Rouen's 'Armada' site has given me the dates, 9 to 18. July, a photo, and very little else. This is the last really big sailing ship meeting in this century, so if you don't already know the details, you'll never get a seat for it. It continues until Sunday, 18. July.

Armada du Siècle - also has a paint show in the form of 'Autour de Claude-Joseph Vernet - La Marine à Voile - 1650-1890.' Vernet was charged with cataloguing ports and 30 of his paintings are on show along with others by Eugéne Boudin, Camille Corot and Gustave Courbert. See these instead if there's no seats left for the 'Armada' itself. Until 15. September. Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1. Place Restout, Rouen. Info. Tel.: 01 40 13 46 75.

La Fête Nationale - Bastille Day

Fête the Eve of the Fête de la Bastille - at the firemen's balls scattered around Paris. Montmartre started it in 1937 and the good-natured brave lads party on; all these are on Tuesday, 13 and Wednesday, 14. July, all with live orchestras. Rousseau, 21. Rue du Jour, Paris 1; Sévigné, 7. Rue Sévigné, Parisposter: rumba domingo, divan du monde 4; Blanche, Rue Blanche, Paris 9; Chaligny, 26. Rue de Chaligny, Paris 12; Champerret, 3. Rue de l'Yser, Paris 17 and Montmartre at 12. Rue Carpeaux, Paris 18. Métro: Guy-Moquet. The first fête lasted until the afternoon of the next day, and everyone at it missed the Champs-Elysées parade.

For Bastille Day in Paris and where to find the more of the night before, plus more details about dance and music events during the summer in Paris go to last week's 'Good, Clean Fun' page and music is featured on the 'High Life' page. Watch out for 'over' dates.

Bastille Eve: -Pétards et Artifices' - at La Flèche d'Or, 102 bis. Rue de Bagnolet, Paris 20. Tuesday, 13. July, all night long. Info. Tel.: 01 45 85 38 88. The 'Flèche d'Or' is mentioned 43 times on last week's 'High Life' page, so it is a name to be reckoned with - for another 15 minutes.

Abstract Summer is now on the walls at Beaubourg with the exhibition of Robert Delaunay's hyper-cunning color sorties. Spots of round, twisted Tour Eiffels, all in hyper-color, and all painted before 1914. This is not any second-hand stand-by exhibition, but one for a major talent; a show to make you stand up and put on your sunglasses.

The Pompidou Centre - AKA Beaubourg:- is mostly closed, but the part that's open, is open from Monday to Friday, from 11:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00. The exhibition continues until Monday, 16. August. Hours for it are given as daily, from 10:00 to 22:00. Info Tel.: 01 44 78 12 33.

On the Road? - if so, drop in on the Balthus exhibition at Dijon, Tintoretto at Agen or the Médicis' treasures at Blois. Respectively at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in the Palais des Etats de Bourgogne, the Beaux-Arts d'Agen and the Château de Blois.

Did I Mention - the Paris Jazz Festival at the Parc Floral de Paris? I've now found a tiny mention of it in Paris' magazine 'Paris le Journal.' The dates are - 'every' Saturday at 16:30, until 25. September - and the concerts are free and no less good because of it. The 30th birthday of the Parc Floral also marks the 6th edition of its Festival 'Classique au Vert,' which features free concerts on Sundays at 16:30. 'Les Pestacles' are on every Wednesday at 14:30 for children from three to ten. Métro: Château de Vincennes. Info. Tel.: 01 43 43 92 95.

1 Monde Réel - the Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain was created in 1984 and since 1994 has beenbrochure: 1 monde du reel, fondation cartier in its present location, which I just happened to notice by accident last week, although its building is quite large.

'The current exhibition asks itself the question about the dialectical relations and infinite riches between imaginary and act, known and unknown territories, present and dream, experience of the real and fiction.' In other words, this is a science fiction show because its objects were created by artists instead of engineers.

Trust me - this stuff is pretty good and may well give you a good laugh or two, which I think is permitted - if not necessary.

Until 14. November. Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain, 261. Boulevard Raspail, Paris 14. Métro: Raspail or Denfert-Rochereau. Except Mondays, open daily from 12:00 to 20:00. Info. Tel.: 01 42 18 56 51.

Domingo de la Rumba - Every Sunday in July and August, check into rumba rhythms at the Divan du Monde at 19:00 to take an hour's course in salsa followed at 20:00 by an hour's course in salsa to finish off with a final hour's course in salsa beginning at 21:00.

After the evening's third course of salsa and if you are still standing, feet twitching, the air-conditioned joint stays open until dawn, serving platos typicos, and muchos musicas along the lines of 'noches de Cuba y América Latina.' At the Divan du Monde, 75. Rue des Martyrs, Paris 18. Métro: Abbesses, and walk down. Info. Tel.: 01 44 92 77 66.

100 Percent Brazil - scant info: Daniela Mercury in concert, I presume. Followed by an evening party called 'Carnaval Mix.' Friday, 16. July; at 21:00. Tickets, 170 francs, at fnac, Virgin. Bataclan, 50. Boulevard Voltaire, Paris 11. Info. Tel.: 01 43 14 35 35.

Visit the Opéra(s) - is an invitation to view the insides of their buildings. If you like late 19th century bombast worthy of Hollywood, you'll like the real thing at the Palais Garnier, which is at métro Opéra. The Opéra Bastille is at métro Bastille and is in a modern building and I don't know anything about its interior, except it is somewhat techno. Visits to both are daily and begin at 13:00. You must bring nine friends and make reservations in advance by calling 01 40 01 25 14. Entries are 60 and 45 francs.

Fréderic Chopin: - would have been 150 years older if he was still as alive today as his music. It's a good excuse to have a Festival Chopin, which is what we've got until Wednesday, 14. July. At the Orangerie in the Parc de Bagatelle, in the Bois de Boulogne. Métro: Neuilly-Sablons. Info. Tel.: 01 45 00 22 19.

Molière et Ses Médecins: - is a musical-comedy by Molière, directed by Rosine Margat with choreography by Virginie Tocque. Starts on Tuesday and runs until 29. August. No show on Mondays in July; none on Monday to Wednesday in August; weekdays at 20:30 and Sundays at 15:30. See it at Le Tambour Royal, 94. Rue du Faubourg du Temple. Paris 11. Métro: Belleville or Goncourt. Tickets at fnac, Virgin, Kiosque and agencies. Info. Tel.: 01 48 06 72 34.

Fête des Loges: - has been playing in the forest of Saint-Germain every year at this time since - oh - decades? four-scores? of years and this year is no exception. The forest it is in is pretty old too. This is a 'Fête Foraine' so don't dress up and make sure your small coins are safe before taking some of the rides. There is a combo price of 125 francs, which is good for 18 rides, or 18 goes on one ride. 14 Restaurants, 150 attractions. Fête des Loges, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Western terminus of RER line 'A.'

Amusement Parks - are all open. They include France Miniature which is miniature France, the Mer-de-Sable which is Paris' closest outdoor Sahara, Parc Asterix which is all about France's oldest and shortest hero and his fat pal, and Disneyland Paris which used to be called Euro- Disneyland until it was discovered that 'Euro' doesn't sell but Paris does. In the order above, Info. Tels. the minis at 08 36 68 52 35, dunes away at 03 44 54 00 96, 03 44 62 34 34 for Obelix and 01 60 30 60 30 for Mickey and his many friends. Ah, the reason for this is: each park has new attractions.

Métro Closed: - the elevated part of line two of the métro Porte Dauphine-Nation is closed for renovations between the stations of Belleville and Blanche until Saturday, 28. August. A free bus is available, to fill the gap caused by the seven closed stations, but residents say this substitute is a shambles. Take this into consideration for connections at Pigalle, Barbés, La Chapelle, Stalingrad, and Colonel Fabien.

Festival Times, Avec l'Eclipse

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 Non-Iffy Les Mis' - The week before last I had doubt that this show is on. Last week a phone call settled the issue - 'Les Mis' are on this summer, to play out in the original Roman Arènes de Lutèce. Le Parisien didn't rate the show with 'stars,' but hinted it is worth seeing. Denis Llorca's Les Misérables runs 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.

Fêtes de Nuit - is the name of Versailles' super spectacular fireworks displays, traditionally put on every summer. Okay, there's dancing and music too, plus special effects and water stuff, all to make you think of the good old Louis' days when taxpayers stood in long lines to see the royal show. Dates are 17. and 14. July at 22:30; plus 28. August, 4. and 11. September at 21:30. Tickets are from 70 to 250 francs. Info. Tel.: 08 03 80 88 03. Check out Spectacles au Château for more 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 grandphoto: official eclipse shades, ric 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.

Ed tries eclipso shades while camera shooter jiggles.

This summer's eclipse is scheduled for Wednesday, 11. August, at lunchtime 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. 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.

The Palais de la Découverte - is getting into the eclipse act too, with a series of exhibits, displays, and a planetarium visit, all concerning heavenly activities surrounding this otherwise free celestial show. Palais de la Découverte, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, Paris 8. Métro: Franklin Roosevelt. Open 9:30 to 18:00 from Tuesday to Saturday; from 10:00 to 19:00 on Sundays. Entries, 30 or 45 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 40 74 80 00.

L'Etoile - is 'Star' in English and another scene of eclipse mania, but down deep underground in the RER station where there is an inflated planetarium; in which astronomers answer spacy questions, via a 3-D voyage 'on the Internet.'" In this way, you can relive an eclipse in 'only' ten minutes, 'thanks to a video.'

The 'quotes' above are there because when I say 'mania,' I don't think we've seen the whole extent of it yet. Would you, the average hard-core eclipse fan, really want to 'relive' one in an underground urban transport station inside an inflated planetarium, via video beamed down through cement, the métro, and earth by means of the Internet? You would? If so, isn't it lucky Paris has just the thing for you? The Etoile is in Paris 8, at l'Etoile.


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