2000 In Paris Notes

photo: 20 years les halles

The 'new' Les Halles is having its 20th
anniversary - already.

The 'Fête du Millénium'

Paris:- Friday, 5. November 1999:- As of today there are 57 days left in this century - in this millennium. If you have left your planning for the turnover as late as this, do not despair.

A year ago, New Years' Eve specialists thought that customers would be willing to - pay any price - go anywhere - for this one-and-only last New Years' of the 20th century.

Up until a few weeks ago, bookings were not full at all. Parisians at least, seem to prefer staying home - rather than paying 11,815 francs for four days in London, with New Years at the new 'Millennium Dome,' and with a Thames cruise thrown in.

According to a recent edition of Le Parisien, a special New Years' Eve fête, catered by the celebratedphoto: sales days at samaritaine Paris restaurant Lucas-Carton, for the occasion at Chantilly, still has places free. Their proposed 'bon bouffe' - 'The Dinner of the Millennium!' - with all the trimmings, costs 20,000 francs. Info. Tel.: 01 42 65 22 00; from abroad, fax.: 33 1 42 65 06 23.

Samaritaine's recent 'sales' fëte.

Closer to Paris, handily located at the eastern end of the 'RER' line B4, Disneyland Paris is proposing a 'nuit de folie' lasting until 04:00 on Saturday, 1. January 2000. Places are still free at only 999 francs. Possibly included: costumes. Info. Tel.: 01 60 30 60 30.

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 line 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.

In Paris, the métro will operate until 01:15 with an increased number of trains on the lines 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 12 and 13. 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.

'Paris 2000'

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.

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 the party - with no overt intention of trying to influence voters, of course.

'2000 In France'

Paris is in France of course, so there is also a '2000 In France' 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.

I have fallen behind with keeping this page up-to-date. It seems to me that a lot of current events are being plastered with '2000' labels, as if sticking this one-time new brand-name on everything is supposed to be an indication of 'unique' or 'superior' something. It is harmless enough, but if I put in everything with a '2000' label on this page, it will gut the regular 'Scene' column.

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. Or vice-versa; I don't know anymore.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.

Located on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, between the Rond-Point to the Place de la Concorde, Paris 8. Métros: Franklin Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées Clemenceau and Concorde. Last chance note: scheduled to end on 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 offersphoto: ile saint louis 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.

On the Ile Saint-Louis, trees are late to color.

The World Wheel - La Roue Monde - you have been invited to send an email message to the virtual 'World Wheel' about your thoughts for the future. My thought for right now is to mention that the Web site has a huge 'welcome' page, so be prepared to wait a bit for it to load.

The artist, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, is collecting the messages and these will be placed on 20 real ferris wheels installed along the Champs-Elysées - along with 24 other works of art - for display on New Years Eve, Friday, 31. December.

Yet to Appear:

Originally announced for erection last September, a really big ferris wheel - 60 metres high - has been programmed for the Place de la Concorde. Expected to have 42 cabins, these will be heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer. This will make for a fine lookout over Paris.

Current Events and Attractions:
  • 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 World Wheel - La Roue Monde,' when it is finally in place.
  • 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.
  • 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. More details for this and the following items in the 'Scene' column.
  • 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. The 'Nutcracker Suite' - 'Caisse-Noisette' - follows in December.
  • 'Les Enfants du Monde' - I have no details about this; not here, not in 'Scene'
November:
  • The 11th - or the 20th! - Anniversary of the bi-annual 'Mois de la Photo,' takes place in November 2000 according to the Maison Européenne de la Photo. I thought it was an annual affair. The Ville de Paris 'Mois de la Photo' program - beginning in November 2000 - will feature 'Paris viewed through the eyes of foreign photographers,' which will be staged in foreign cultural centres. The Musée Carnavalet-Histoire de Paris will present a photo exhibition of Paris in 3-D. A 'Paris Photo Fair' will be held in the Carousel du Louvre, with selections from French and foreign galleries. Finally, 30 of the 'world's best' and 200photo: rue louis philippe of the 'world's less-than-best' photographers will spend two days trying to figure out the 'future of photography' in the coming millennium.
Late afternoon in the Rue Louis-Philippe on theright bank.
  • Monday, 15. November at Saint-Germain-des-Prés; the International World Tour of Sacred Songs and Music - the 'Festival d'Art Sacre 99' - presents the first of many concerts in historic Paris locations. This huge event apparently ends on Monday, 20. December, but seems to continue until 24. January 2000. Info. Tel.: 01 44 70 64 10.
  • Paris, known as the 'City of Light' due it its early adoption of electric lighting, turns on many, many more lights in November - 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, for a bit of sking in the city.
  • 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 a gathering of 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. This sounds more 'flashy' than dignified or sober.
  • '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 - based on the Christian Bailly collections, containing over a million items. This series of events is to lead up to the eventual opening of a 'Press Museum' which the city plans to open.
April to September 2000:
  • Spring:- Paris considers the 'discovery' of the Americas as having been the most significant event of the last millennium, so the Americas will be celebrated in various ways - a 'celebration' which actually started in 1999. Some 'American' events are in this week's 'Scene' column.
  • Sunday, 9. April:- the Paris Marathon
  • May or June:- 'Land Art on the banks of the Seine' - will see the installation of plant of 'photo constructions' by 10 artists, in parks or gardens near the river
  • Monday, 15. May:- Seiji Ozawa directs the Symphonic Orchestra of Boston and the National Orchestra of France at the Champ-de-Mars
  • In June:- Johnny Hallyday gives another really huge - and free! - concert, on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées - this one in memory of the spontaneous popular fête produced by France's World Cup win in 1998.
  • Possibly In July:- Guitar Heros - 30 of the world's 'greatest guitar players' are to be featured performers at Bagatelle over three days - with the gate receipts earmarked for international charities for children
  • 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 Friday, 14. July 2000 - which may be visible from outer space, if you happen to be out there.
  • 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 in Paris
  • 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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