Paris Meridian Gets First Tree

photo: giant wheel at concorde

The rims were up on Friday; next come the gondolas.

Scene's 'New Look,' Part II

Paris:- Saturday, 27. November 1999:- Last week when I set up the coding for the 'list of contents' on these two 'Scene' pages, I divided the existing contents nearly in half.

But with the addition of the actual to the 'new' contents, the items from the 'Scene I' page that where here last week, have had to return there. Program guides have suddenly appeared for Paris' Christmas '99 - and - more details are emerging for '2000 In Paris.' This 'Scene' column, now running on two pages, may have to grow to three.

The 'Méridienne Verte' Begins

Last Thursday, radio France-Info interrupted its strike to let me catch a news item about the 'Green Meridian.' Since this was happening sufficientlyphoto: l'incroyable pique-nique close by, I downed my orange juice and bused down to see it.

I think this idea to plant 3000 trees along a north-south line all the through France, and then have a picnic on it on Bastille Day, 14. July, is a great one.

The logo for next July's picnic, from Dunkirk to Barcelona.

A long green line, on which to have a picnic, is the kind of an idea that sums up a French flair for elegance and poetry as we go into the next millennium, wheezing along with our cranky computer systems and high-bio-tech global this and that.

The French are just as wired up and tranquilized down as everybody else in the world, so this simple idea is magical - because it is simple. We will dance through the night of the eve of Bastille Day, and then we will sit down to a festive picnic to wind down. Voilà!

Navigation Note:-If you pop back and forth within the two 'Scene' pages, your browser's 'back' or 'return' button will not return you to the issue's 'contents' page. Use 'This Issue' in Metropole's navigation line at the top and bottom of these pages.



Paris Christmas 1999 Contents

There will be some overlap here between Christmas events in Paris, 2000 In Paris, and 2000 In France events.

In addition to the usual skating rink and two merry-go-rounds in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris will also have a 'mountain' village at Trocadéro this year. Scheduled to open on Friday, 18. December, it will continue until Monday, 10. January. As usual, other traditional merry-go-rounds will be distributed around Paris, in 17 of its arrondissements.

Snow will be imported from Savoie. Pine trees will be planted to accompany 25 wooden mountain chalets; there will be an ice-skating rink and a 'Marché de Noël' featuring the traditional Christmas fare.

The children's village will be animated by various commercial concerns - for 'show' and 'sell' - plus there will be a 300-seat restaurant. In the ski area, a ski-lift is planned for the downhill, cross-country - at Trocadéro! - snowboard, dogsled and bobsled areas. Part of the receipts will be going to UNICEF.

Flamme de l'Espérance is an action planned by the Catholic church in Paris, which consists of buying at 30 cm high candle for 25 francs. This is to be lit on Wednesday, 22. December and it should be able to remain lit for 12 days, until Saturday, 2. January 2000. These red and green candles will be available at all Paris churches on 28. November. There are 150,000 of them so there should be enough to go around.

La Crèche de l'Espérance is Notre Dame's annual creche and this year it features nine pa intings inspired by 12th century originals from the roman church at Zillis in Switzerland. Also new this year, this creche is inside the cathedral. Entry - for a donation - from Monday to Saturday; from 10:00 to 17:30; on Sundays from 14:00 to 17:30; and on Wednesday nights from 19:00 to 22:00.

Midnight Mass at Notre Dame on Friday, 24. December, is by invitation only - but will be broadcast live by France 2 TV from 23:00 to 01:00.

La Madeleine - has two shows this year; one starts on Saturday, 4. December and involves 20 illustrationsposter: concerts, eglise st roch projected onto the facade facing the Rue Royale. This lasts daily from 17:00 to midnight, until Monday, 3. January. There will be another giant painting on the opposite end too.

In addition to the Madeleine, many other Paris churches have special events for the holiday season.

The other 'show,' on Sundays during December, consists of free concerts usually beginning at 16:00, performed on the Madeleine's very large and famous organ. I believe that there is also a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass on Friday, 24. December - which is such a tradition that there is no mention of it. For New Year's Eve, Handel's Messia will be performed by a cast of 150. Tickets for this: at fnac, Virgin and agencies.

Opéra Palais Garnier - Ballet: Balachine-Kelemenis-Montalvo; from 20 to 24 and 26 to 30. December at 19:30. Info. Tel.: 08 36 69 78 68.

Opéra, Bastille - Ballet: Nurevev's Sleeping Beauty, on 22, 27, 29 and 30. December at 19:30; on the 24. December at 14:30 and 26. December at 15:00. Also from 4. to 21. January. Puccini's 'La Bohême' is playing on 2, 9 and 11 December at 19:30, and at 15:00 on 5. December. Verdi's 'Falstaff' is on the 10, 13, 15, 18, 20, 23, 25, 28 and 31. December, at 19:30. Info. Tel.: 08 36 69 78 68.

Théâtre du Châtelet - 'The Nutcracker Suite' choreographed by Maurice Béjart, features Yvette Horner and a big cast. From 10. to 31. December at 20:00 and the 12, 19, and 26. December at 17:00. Info. Tel.: 01 40 28 28 40.

Showtime

Disneyland Paris - is handily located at the eastern end of the 'RER' line B4. It 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.

Nouveau Cirque de Pékin - features a two hour show with 45 artistes, animals, all from Canton. Until Sunday, 9. January, in the Zavatta tent at the Pelouse de Reuilly in the Bois de Vincennes. Métro: Porte Dorée and Porte de Charenton. Prices from 85 francs for kids up to 225 francs for adults. Info. Tel.: 08 25 03 90 40.

Pinocchio - based on Goldini's famous piece about fibbing and long noses; directed by Yves Le Guillochet. For enfants from three to 10. On Wednesday, Saturday and school holidays. Until 12. April. Resa. Tel.: 01 42 54 77 77. Playing at the same theatre, 'Le Rossignol de l'Empereur de Chine' by Hans Christian Andersen; for kids three to nine. Resa. Tel.: 01 42 54 58 14. Théâtre Pépinière Opéra, 7. Rue Louis-Le-Grand, Paris 2. Métro: Opéra.

Réveillon de l'An 2000 - is a generic term for this New Years Eve - but this one is in some caves 'belonging' to the Montquartiers in Issy-les-Moulineaux. Per head: 2000 francs. Buffet, Champagne, fortune tellers, Brazilian revue, dancing. Info. Tel.: 01 64 86 28 00.

Le Temps d'Une Nuit - a 'really big show,' with Nathalie Vincent and Alexandre Aubry; in the heated tent in the Parc André Malraux, in Nanterre. For kids three years old and up. Times are 10:30, 14:30 and 17:30. Until Sunday, 16. January. Tickets: all locations. RER 'A' to Nanterre Prefecture. Info. Tel.: 01 42 87 62 62..

Paris has its 'big names' for the 'good stuff.' It also has its 'small names' for equally 'good stuff,' but I don't know these - therefore only the biggest of the 'big names.' For these, make sure your 'plastic' is gold:

  • Dalloyau - out of five locations, here are two: 25. Boulevard des Capucines, Paris 2 and 101. Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8.
  • Fauchon - only one address: 26. Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8.
  • La Grande Epicerie de Paris - in the Bon Marché, 38. Rue de Sèvres, Paris 7.
  • Hédiard - out of six locations, here are two: 21. Place de la Madeleine, Paris 8 and 31. Avenue Georges V, Paris 8.
  • Lenôtre - out of four locations, here are two: 61. Rue Lecourbe, Paris 15 and 44. Rue d'Auteuil, Paris 16.

Last year I had to choose from a list of about 70 places with Christmas dinners and New Years gala evenings for under 500 francs - not including 'all you can drink.' This year I may have a lesser number to choose from, and the range has increased by 50 percent to 'under 750 francs.'>/P>

But this is too general, because you can dine well at Paris' oldest restaurant, at the Auberge Nicolas Flamel for 295 francs. Besidesphoto: bejart, theatre chatelet age, this restaurant's other claim to fame is its wine list, which has very 'big' names at very competitive prices. 51. Rue de Montmorency, Paris 3. Good values can also be had at any of the restaurants of the Chez Clément or La Criée chains, for fish dishes. Even a fancy joint like the brasserie of the Hotel Lutétia can give you a gala New Years Eve for exactly 750 francs - except for the free glass of Champagne, drinks are extra.

However for New Years, Chez Clément hikes its 'menu' to 1000 francs, all Champagne included; and La Criée charges 850 francs, with a bottle of Champagne included.

A few years ago Professor Greb had a fine time at Paris' oldest café, Le Procope, on plain plastic. This year their New Years Eve gala costs 2000 francs, but this includes upscale Champagne and Sancerre and Chateauneuf-du-Pape; all you can hold. Any one of these you can barely afford for an important birthday.

With this particular New Year, going in is not going to be cheap because coming out you are going to feel good. New Years Eves come and go, but there will only be one like this one - in Paris - only once. Unless you are already the 2000-year-old man.

At the upper end of the scale, a New Years' Eve fête catered by the celebrated 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.

  • '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.
  • 'Aux Portes de l'An 2000' - in Paris this event will take place on the Champs-Elysées, starting at 00:00 on Saturday, 1. January and will feature 20 real or imaginary ferris wheels with actors, musicians, circus performers - putting on some sort of dazzling show.
  • 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. Starting at the Porte Saint-Denis at 14:00, the parade follows the 'Grands Boulevards' to the Place de la Madeleine.

A giant freebie for public transport users has been announced. 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 Events

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.

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.'

Paris is in France of course, so there is also a '2000 In France' national program of events and celebrations too. See 'tree planting' below.

Last Thursday, '2000 In France' kicked off with the planting of 3000 trees along the 'Méridienne Verte' which stretches from Dunkerque to Barcelona. This last city, is not in France, but is in Catalonia. Somehow it is included in '2000 In France.'

Radio France-Info, breaking its strike briefly, said the Paris ceremony was in the Luxembourg gardens, so I hoppedphoto: tree plant on paris meridian on a bus and sped down there. In the middle of a circle of TV-news crews, other assorted journalists and politicos, a horde of kids, and some kids dressed by Robin Hood, a tree of some sort with red-white-blue ribbons, was waiting to be planted.

Paris' first tree, being planted on the Meridian in the Luxembourg Gardens.

France's Président du Sénat, Christian Poncelet, tossed a shovelful of Paris' 'ugly dirt' into the hole, and a bunch of kids dressed as trees shovelled in the rest. Then all the other kids released their balloons into a grey sky, and then trooped off to the palace to have drinks and cookies with the Senat.

The meridian passes through 48 cities, towns and villages in the Ile-de-France. Six Paris arrondissements are on the line, but tree plantings will only be in three of them - the 6th, 14th and 18th - on account of pavement in the others.

The evening's TV-news showed the 'national' tree planting taking place in Dunkerque, with the Minister of Culture, Catherine Trautmann, doing the dirt tossing. Korean KBS TV-news showed the Paris event.

The tree plantings will continue until 21. March 2000, which should mean that their leaves will be green for the picnic to be held on the line on Bastille Day, 14. July.

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.

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.

  • 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 operation, after Wednesday, 1. December.
  • Spaceship II Thousand - Le Vaisseau II Mille - is under construction by students from sevenphoto: xmas window, galeries lafayette 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, at 32, Quai de la Loire, Paris 19.
  • One of Galeries Lafayette's Christmas windows.
  • 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 began at the end of October 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-opened, with the opera 'Outis' created by Luciano Berio for La Scala. The 'Nutcracker Suite' - 'Caisse-Noisette' - follows in December.
  • 'Paris en l'An 2100' - is the actual exhibition in the reception hall in the Hôtel de Ville. Imagined by the students of applied arts schools in Paris, this displays a future Paris of the imagination. Until 29. January, at 29. Rue de Rivoil, Paris 4.
  • 'Les Enfants du Monde' - I have no details about this; not here, not in 'Scene I.'
Started In November:

photo: tango pasion

  • On Thursday, 18. November, the Maison Européenne de la Photo opened an exhibition featuring Bernard Plossu, Hocine and Bernard Lamarche-Vadel.
  • Monday, 15. November at Saint-Germain-des-Prés; the International World Tour of Sacred Songs and Music - the 'Festival d'Art Sacre 99' - presented 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, turned on many, many more lights on Tuesday, 23. November - on all of its 36 bridges, and includes a new illumination scheme for the Hôtel de Ville.

Coming Real Soon - Originally announced for erection last September, the really big ferris wheel - 60 metres high - has been programmed to start twirling in the Place de la Concorde on Wednesday, 1. December.

The wheel's construction started about a week ago. It is expected to have 42 cabins and these will be heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer. This will make for a fine lookout over Paris.

Photos in Metropole of the 'Paris Wheel' under construction were taken on Friday, 26. November.

  • ''Les Metiers d'Art En l'An 2000' begins on Friday, 17. December. Thousands of objects from the world of hand-work - jewelry, crystal, leatherwork, couture, binding - go on display at the Palais des Congrés at Porte Mailot - until Thursday, 6. January.
  • From Monday, 20. December to Wednesday, 5. January 2000, Paris does its traditional Christmas season. Some highlights:
  • '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.
  • 'Aux 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.
  • A 'Press City' will be set up in February 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 will proceed the eventual opening of a 'Press Museum' which the city plans to open.
  • 'Carpe Diem 2000' - will feature 365 photos of the Tour Eiffel, taken by Jean Paul Lubliner since January 1999.
  • 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.
  • 'The Wings of Light' is a 'symphonic' musical comedy by Christian Schittenhelm, which traces the odysee of Leonardo de Vinci. At the Casino de Paris, from 1. July to 30. August. World tour begins in 2001.
  • 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.
  • 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, on 23. July
  • In September:- World Boxing Championship fight at the Tour Eiffel.
  • Beginning in November 2000:- the Ville de Paris 'Mois de la Photo' program 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 200 of the 'world's less-than-best' photographers will spend two days trying to figure out the 'future of photography' in the coming millennium.

Past Christmas' Season Features in Metropole at a Glance:

Anno 1998:

Last year I must have been feeling like Mr. Twinkle, because Metropole's Christmas columns began with issue 3.45, which appeared online on Monday, 9. November - right after Halloween. This year I think a heap of local PR energy has gone into the 'big' one - 'Paris In 2000' - and a lot of the previous year's smaller items simply haven't shown up.

Metropole Issue 3.48 - 30. November 1998:

Metropole Issue 3.49 - 7. December 1998:

Metropole Issue 3.50 - 14. December 1998:

Metropole Issue 3.51 - 21. December 1998:

Metropole Issue 3.52 - 28. December 1998:

Anno 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.49 - 8. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.50 - 15. December 1997:photo: xmas decor, fouquet's

Metropole Issue 2.51 - 22. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.52 - 29. December 1997:

Anno 1996:

Metropole Issue 1.43 -
16. December 1996

  • Features: 'Shopping' on the Rue Saint Honoré,' 'Standing Around Waiting for Food' and 'Best Christmas Window Contest.'

Metropole Issue 1.44 - 23. December 1996

  • Feature: 'The Eating Season'

Metropole Issue 1.45 - 30. December 1996

  • Feature: 'New Year's in Paris'

These are only the barest details of some of the events of the 'Paris 2000' and the national 'Mission 2000' programs. 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.

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini