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photo: xmas window, samaritaine

Today and tomorrow, shoppers will blot out this
Samaritaine window.

Paris 2000 and 2000 In France

Paris:- Saturday, 18. December 1999:- Another one of my brilliant innovations has run up against a wall, which means I've run out of time.

This column was split off from the Christmas 1999 items because they will die next week, except for possible last minute New Years Eve events. This '2000' column will continue.

Without warning, the city put its program magazine for residents 'on thephoto: from big wheel, view of champs elysees stands' in all 21 of Paris' city halls last Wednesday, right on schedule. Oh surprise! It also contains additional details about 'Paris 2000' as well as some completely new items.

View of the Champs-Elysées from the top of Paris 'big' wheel.

So, today's column for 'Paris 2000' is largely a repeat of last week's. Even though I intend to do next to nothing in the coming week, there may be some of these new items here in the next issue.

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'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.

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.

The 'Méridienne Verte' Begins - On 25. November the 'green meridian' tree planting began. 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.

This simple idea is magical - because it is simple. We will dance throughposter: jardins d'hiver, ville de paris the night of the eve of Bastille Day, and then we will sit down to a festive picnic to wind down. The 'Méridienne Verte' stretches from Dunkerque to Barcelona. This last city, is not in France, but is in Catalonia. Somehow it is included in '2000 In France.'

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 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 flightposter: s'il neige 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.

Paris' Big Wheel - in the Place de la Concorde is now in operation. For an eight-minute ride, going up 60 metres, the fare for adults is 30 francs. See this week's 'Café' column for first impressions.

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 Paris' 'Giant Wheel' when it is operation, after Wednesday, . December.


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