2000 In Paris Notes

photo: champs sculpture, grooms' hot dog

Red Grooms' 'Hot Dog Vendor' on the Champs-Elysées.

Now Less Than 100 Days Away

Paris:- Friday, 24. September 1999:- There are less than 100 days left in this century - in this millennium - so your planning for the turnover should be as advanced as possible.

Last summer's eclipse gave hint of the possible local enthusiasm - so you are going to have to calculate that a lot of Parisians are going to be a major element of all the coming events.

Public Transport - New Year's Eve

France's Minister of Transport, Jean-Claude Gayssot has announced a giant freebie for public transport users. From 17:00 on Friday, 31. December until 12:00 Saturday, 1. January 2000, all public transport in the Ile-de-France will be free of charge.

For the same time period, the SNCF says it will run at least one suburban train per hour on every linephoto: sand clock, jardin des plantes throughout the night. Within Paris, RER trains will operate until 01:00, but suburban RER 'A' and 'B' trains will make round trips between the suburbs and Nation, Auber and Denfert-Rochereau until 05:00.

The giant 'egg-timer' in the Jardin des Planyes.

In Paris, the métro will operate until 01:15 with an increased number of trains on the 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 12 and 13-numbered lines. The RATP's regular city buses will operate until 19:00 so they can start up at their usual 07:00 time on Saturday, 1. January.

The night buses - the 'Noctambus' - will have their frequency doubled, which I think will mean a bus every 30 minutes. These buses begin service when the métro stops for the night. They all start at Châtelet and run out to Paris' various exit 'portes' - but none operate towards the south-east or the south-west according to my old bus map.

Vocabulary: - Last week, the French term for suburbs - banlieue - was banished by the SNCF and replaced with 'Transilien' - pronounced 'tran-sil-ee-en.' This is to match the long-used term 'Francilien' which has been used as synonym for 'residents of the Ile-de-France.'

On paper, many of the planned events, exhibitions and activities seem to be modest or low-key. An example was last summer's eclipse, which had a large popular turnout for its brief duration.

Though not 'planned' as a '2000 in Paris' event, the sheer enthusiasm displayed for its 12-minute celestial light show demonstrated that the spectators themselves were a great contribution to the 'spectacle,' especially since it was a natural one and a genuine 'last of the millennium' event.

Other events, which have been on the annual calendar for years, will get a 'Paris 2000' logo this year; plus an extra effort will be put into their staging - so everything that happens in Paris will have at least a bit of extra oomph to it.

'From the Heart'

Paris is officially characterizing its participation as the 'choix du cúur' rather than 'mega-francs' and has modestly named it 'Paris 2000.' This will be a 16-month 'Fête de Millennium.'

It is of no consequence whatsoever that there is also a Parisian municipal election campaign more or less underway, so even opposition representatives will be voting funds for thephoto: rond point champs elysees party - with no overt intention of trying to influence voters, of course.

Paris is in France of course, so there is also a national program of events and celebrations too. When these events are in addition to what Paris has planned, they are added below.

Once every millennium about this time, people start making plans to visit Paris, to be here when the tired old 1900's roll over into the brandnew 2000's. So that you will be able to get the 'program' in one piece, it has been removed from the 'Scene' column and given this page.

Generally, I will try to put longer-range 'coming events' on this page. As the event becomes immediate, it will be duplicated on the weekly 'Scene' page.

Already Playing:

Les Champs de la Sculpture 2000 - this open-air sculpture show was mounted for the first time in 1996 and this year's new edition gets the '2000' label too. Of the 52 pieces to be on view, most have never been shown in France before. One reason for this is that about half of the works have been executed especially for this free exhibition.

Since you don't want a list of 50 names here, I will just say the artists represent five continents. In addition, only the works of living artists are on show -with works dating from 1960 to the '90's. On the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, from the Rond-Point to the Place de la Concorde, Paris 8. Métros: Franklin Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées Clemenceau and Concorde. Begins Wednesday, 15. September and continues until Sunday, 14. November.

The Balloon Goes Up - Pilâtre de Rozier made the world's - and man's - first balloon flight in Paris on Friday, 21. November 1783 in a balloon invented by the Montgolfier brothers. In the summer of 1878, a captive balloon was installed in the Tuileries and 35,000 passengers tried it out.

The world's largest tethered balloon, at the Parc André Citroën, took its first flight on Thursday, 1. July at 18:00, and now offers rides to the public. It can take 30 passengers up to its operating ceiling of 150 metres - but only weather permitting. Info. Tel.: 01 44 26 20 00.

Other, Coming Events

The World Wheel - La Roue Monde - you have been invited to send an email message to The World Wheel about your thoughts for the future. The artist, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, is collecting the messages and these will be placed on ferris wheels installed along the Champs-Elysées, along with 24 other works of art - for display on Friday, 31. December.

The Meridian Verte - imagined by the architect Paul Chemetov, the idea is for volunteers to plant trees along the old Paris 'Meridian,' from Dunkirk to Barcelona. Besides the trees, the best part of the idea is to have a picnic on the meridian on 14. July 2000.

September:
  • The giant sundial at the Place de la Concorde is in place, but it is so big that it can only be seen from the:
  • 'The Big Wheel' - 60 metres high - with 42 cabins, each containing audio commentary in five languages. It is already supposed to be in operation, but I haven't heard of it - nor seen it yet. Where is it? To continue until Friday, 31. December.
  • Les Champs de la Sculpture open-air exhibition is now in place and it continues until Sunday 14. November.
  • Spaceship II Thousand - Le Vaisseau II Mille - is under construction by students from seven technological high schools in the Paris region. This nine-ton thingee will be complete at the year's end and be viewable at La Villette.
October:
  • Robert Hossein presents a huge spectacle, with giant screen and 200 actors, entitled "The Man Who Said 'No'" - about Charles de Gaulle and his wartime followers. At the newly renovated and enlarged Palais des Congrès.
  • The first exhibition of 'Fauvism' in 30 years begins at mid-month at Paris' Musée d'Art Moderne. Over 200 works by Matisse, Derain, Marquet, Manguin, Puy, Camoin, Vlaminck, Van Dongen, Braque, Friesz and Dufy.
  • The theatre at Châtelet re-opens, with the opera 'Outis' created by Luciano Berio for La Scala, beginning in November. The 'Nutcracker Suite' - 'Caisse-Noisette' - follows in December.
  • Les Enfants du Monde
November:
  • The 20th Anniversary of the annual 'Mois de la Photo,' calls for a more ambitious program than usual - one that continues until the 'Month of the Photo' in November, 2000.
  • Thursday, 4. November at Saint-Germain-des-Prés; the International World Tour of Sacred Songs, presents the first of eight concerts in historic Paris locations.
  • Paris, known as the 'City of Light' due it its early adoption of electric lighting, turns on many, many more lights - on all of its 36 bridges, and includes a new illumination scheme for the Hôtel de Ville.
December:
  • From Monday, 20. December to Wednesday, 5. January 2000, Paris does its traditional Christmas season - see past Christmas issues of Metropole - with the addition of a new children's village at Trocadéro, to be packed with new snow daily.
  • Across the way, the Tour Eiffel will be given a new 'cloak' of lights, which is supposed to make it look 'dignified and sober' as well as plain beautiful.
  • 'Capitales' is a giant book 15 metres high, to be set up at Palais-Royal. On hand will be hundreds of authors and artists from all over the world. Friday, 31. December and Saturday, 1. January.
  • 'Countdown 2000' calls for gathering mankind at the base of the Tour Eiffel to help the countdown time display reach zero. An extra 20,000 flash-lights have been added to the tower; set to blitz each hour for a year until 1. January 2001.
  • 'Portes de l'An 2000' - 36,000 villages, towns and cities in France are set to have symbolic or real 'doors to the future,' around which the festivities of New Year's Eve are to be concentrated.
January 2000:
  • New Year's Day - Saturday, 1. January 2000:- 'The Great Parade of Paris.' Enjoyed by Montmartre for the past six years, this edition will parade through all Paris - with all of the world's marching bands invited.
  • A 'Press City' will be set up to celebrate Renaudot's invention in 1631 of the famous 'Gazette,' which was a first for France and the world. Newspapers will show how they are made and there will be a 'Press Heritage' section, relating to independence and freedom of the press.
April to September 2000:
  • Sunday, 9. April:- the Paris Marathon
  • Monday, 15. May:- Seiji Ozawa directs the Symphonic Orchestra of Boston and the National Orchestra of France at the Champ-de-Marsposter: theatre de la ville
  • In June:- Johnny Hallyday gives another really huge - and free! - concert, on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
  • Friday, 14. July:- Robert Hossein stages the entire history of Paris and France - but without the original cast; around the Seine and from Etoile to Concorde
  • Friday, 14. July:- Grands Bals to be held at Concorde, the esplanade at Invalides and on the Champ-de-Mars. Plus fireworks and a special rocket-launching
  • In July:- The Tour de France; with the final day to be run entirely in Paris
  • In September:- World Boxing Championship fight at the Tour Eiffel.

These are only the barest details of some of the events of the 'Paris 2000' and the national 'Mission 2000' programs. Watch this space for additional information. Although seemingly modest, the 'Paris Lights Up' alone will be worth seeing.

As 'Paris 2000' points out, Saint-Just said, "Happiness is a new idea in Europe." I'm not sure that he meant, 'It's Party Time, Euro-Folks!' but this is what Paris and France have in mind for the beginning of our 3rd millennium. Book early.

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