Parisians Want New Year,
Century, Millennium

photo: xmas window, samaritaine

Christmas windows are better this year. Here
is one of Samaritaine's.

Scene II - Paris Christmas 99 and the Big 2000

Paris:- Saturday, 11. December 1999:- The French and the Parisians have been down so long that the millennium looks up. TV-news is reporting record shopping activity and record spending.

In the past six weeks, four million are reported to have flowed through the Grands Magazins on Haussmannphoto: merry go round, la defense and I think TV-news said the big crush is yet to come. Shoppers are buying more, and they are buying big-ticket items such as DVD players as well. Kids, sadly deprived for the past ten years, will be getting more this year.

The all-year merry-go-round at Le Défense.

Owing to the uniqueness of this particular Christmas and New Year season, you can expect to pay a premium. Babysitters, for example, are asking for 950 to 1200 francs for watching our loved ones, from 21:00 on Friday, 31. December to 8:00 on Saturday, 1. January 2000.

Next week: more details about the public events, with any good 'tips' I can think up.

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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.

'New Items' have been included under their subject headings - so start hitting these or scroll down the page.

La Poste - is celebrating a lot of things at the moment, but first up is its year-end catalogue which features its new Christmas stamps. Also featured are special stamps for our '2000 Thing' and this is why this item is on this page. France did not win the rugby world championship, but this has not stopped La Poste from issuing a rugby-ball-shaped stamp. Also see the '100 Years of the Métro' stamp.

'La Poste's' services for philatelists are accessible by the Web to interested collectors. La Poste offers information about its subscription service in English, German, Spanish and Italian. La Poste also accepts payments made with plastic cards.

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 forphoto: marche noel, la defense the downhill, cross-country - at Trocadéro! - snowboard, dogsled and bobsled areas. Part of the receipts will be going to UNICEF.

La Défense's Marché de Noël is like a small village.

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 illustrations 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.

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 Midnightposter: marche noel, st germain Mass on Friday, 24. December - which is such a tradition that there is no mention of it. For New Year's Eve, Handel's Messiah will be performed by a cast of 150. Tickets for this: at fnac, Virgin and agencies.

Les Crèches du Bout du Monde - is merely 200 creches from Brazil, for big and small, that feature items made by children and artisans from the 'end of the world.' Free entry. Open Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 to 19:00; until Saturday, 8. January. Closed Christmas Day and New Years Day. At the Espace Vivendi, 6-8. Rue de Tilsit, Paris 8. Métro: Etoile.

Alsatian Marché de Noël - is at the Gare de l"Est, which is as close to Alsace you can get and still be in Paris. In the départ area there are 30 Alsatian chalets full of Alsatian versions of the traditional 'marché de Noël' fare, and this includes typical Christmas decorations. Until next Saturday, 18. December; open from 9:00 to 20:00 daily.

Showtime

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.

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. As seen on TV-news, this is a very spectacular show. 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.

Salto - for circus history, there is a special show at the Cirque d'Hiver, which pays tribute to the Bouglione circus - of which the latest version is also playing out at Issy-les-Moulineaux. For the history, see 'Salto' at the Cirque d'Hiver, 110. Rue Amelot, Paris 11; Info. Tel.: 01 53 94 59 10. Until 30. January. Out at Issy, the address is 24. Boulevard Galiéni. Until 9. January. Info. Tel.: 06 80 11 11 98; plus tickets at agencies.

Alexis Gruss - after 25 years of the 'Cirque à l'Ancienne' which follows a tradition established in 1770, to have lots of horses. Until 20. February, at the Allée de la Reine Marguerite in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16. Info. Tel.: 01 45 01 71 26.

Arlette Gruss - seems to do everything except horses, with tigers that menace and clowns, trapeze acts, more clowns, and so on. Until 31. December, with a circus 'of the future' festival from 28. to 31. December. On the Pelouse de Reuilly, Paris 12. Info. Tel.: 01 45 44 30 82.

Pinder - Jean Richard - a circus with 140 years of tradition, that everyone had seen rolling around Europe non-stop - for a long time; takes its usual holiday place in Paris. Until 3. January, at the Pelouse de Reuilly in the area of the Foire du Trône, Pais 12. Info. Tel.: 01 43 44 09 09.

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 theposter: court circuit, la villette 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.

'Les Fabulettes' - Metropole had this last year and here it is again: a musical for kids, with Jacques Haurogné singing the 'Fabulettes.' Until Sunday, 19. December, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 14:30. From Monday, 20. December until Friday, 31. December, daily at 14:30. At the auditorium Saint-Germain, 7. Rue Féliben, Paris 5. Métro: Mabillon. Info. Tel.: 01 44 07 37 43. Tickets also at agencies.

Les Noces de Jeannette - is also a repeater from last year; an opera dated 1853 - 'vraiment comique! - by Victor Massé, performed by the Nadia Baji company. On Saturdays, 25. December, 4. and 25. January; at 19:00. On Sundays, 12. and 26. December and 9. January; at 16:00. Théâtre Maurice Ravel, 6. Avenue Maurice Ravel, Paris 12. Métro: Porte de Vincennes or Porte Dorée. Info. Tel.: 01 44 75 60 14.

The Musée de la Poupée - this small museum is showing Bécassine, Bluette and the dolls that were featured in the 'Semaine de Suzette,' a weekly magazine for girls that was published from 1905 to 1960. Musée de la Poupée, Impasse Berthaud, Paris 3. In a dead-end opposite the métro exit at Rambuteau. Open daily except Mondays, from 10:00 to 18:00. Info. Tel.: 01 42 72 73 11.

The Mystery of the Enchanted Garbage Can - is a new show, described as 'clownesque.' It takes classical fables, adds a giant rabbit and the 'green line' to its ecolo theme. At the Théâtre du Trianon, 80. Boulevard de Rochechouart, ¨Paris 18. Métro: Pigalle. Info. Tel.: 01 40 86 74 33.

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.

At the moment nobody knows just how many people are going to go to the Tour Eiffel to see it pop its cork. The same thing goes for the Champs-Elysées. Public security authorities are taking no chances, so they are preparing for the biggest crowds in history.

It should be pretty obvious you can't be in two places at the same time. If you opt for the publicposter: fetes en ile de france events taking place outside, you are going to have to forego the all-night galas taking place inside.

Generally speaking, big crowds in Paris are well-behaved. There will be an exceptionable police presence - 73,000 cops, gendarmes and soldiers - to make sure it stays this way. If you happen to have some portable Champagne with you, I do not think they will take the trouble to notice.

It is too early to tell how easy or difficult it will be to make reservations for public New Years Eve fêtes in Paris. Having gala Christmas meals will probably not be a problem.

Metropole readers are interested, judging by emails I've received. Answering these individually is difficult, because many writers include no details about their tastes or budgets. If you are arriving in Paris, hit the magazine stands in the airports and get a copy of 'Pariscope' or the 'Officiel des Spectacles.' These city guides have a lot of listings, for everything - and are not difficult to decipher.

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. Besides 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 includesbrochure: musee d'orsay 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.

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.

New Years Eve

Réveillon de l'An 2000 - is a genric 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.


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