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!

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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


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