...Continued from page 1

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. I'm not sure of what you may find online because a reader wrote to say it is all in French. When I tried to check this out, my particular browser crashed - but it crashes on all up-to-date, flashy sites.

At the moment nobody knows just how many people are going to go to the Tour Eiffel to see it pop its cork. Theposter: ava maria 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 public 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 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.

Two Ramadhan Nights - are being organized for Friday, 24. December and Saturday, 25. December, featuring stars from the Middle East and North Africa; produced by Aladin the Musician. Both nights start at 21:00. Le Cabaret Sauvage, which in the Parc de la Villette, near the canal. Métro: Porte de la Villette or Porte de Pantin. Info. Tel.: 01 40 03 75 15.

Reveillon 2000 - is not an original name for a Brazilian fête from the terra of samba, but it will have food and drink. The dinner and included drink is 1200 francs for two and 999 francs for four, so I guess these are 'per-head' rates. Take a dozen people and maybe it comes down to $49.95. This takes place at a fairly new centre of extravagance; at Le Cabaret Sauvage, which in the Parc de la Villette, near the canal. Métro: Porte de la Villette or Porte de Pantin. Info. Tel.: 01 42 26 08 52.

SALSA - is another unoriginal name for much the same thing, which lifts off at 22:30 and runs until morning. This one is at the well-known New Morning, 7 & 9. Rue des Petits-Ecuries, Paris 10. Info. Tel.: 01 45 23 51 41.

99>2000L'ULTIMANOCHE - is not a modest name, butposter: jemja, cabaret sauvage this is because it has been thought up by the Divan du Monde. Lots of SAMBA. Bring your dancing shoes, but eat first because I don't think this is a food joint. The entry is only 300 'balles' and there will be LOTS of STUFF, such as 'cocktails "millennium". Divan du Monde, 75. Rue des Martyrs, Paris 18. Métro: Pigalle. Info. Tel.: 01 44 92 77 66.

Ave Maria - features traditional Christmas songs, by composers such as Schubert, Mozart, Verdi and Gounod. Various artists, and times, starting on Thursday, 23. December and continuing until Friday, 31. December. At the - heated - Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, I. Rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, Paris 5. Métro: Saint-Michel. Tickets can be obtained one hour before performances - more details with the Info. Tel.: 01 42 26 00 00.

Les Voix de la Neva -features the vocal emsemble of Saint Petersburg. Dates are 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30. December and 1. January; all at 20:45. 26. December and 2. January at 17:00. Eglise Saint-Louis-en-L'Ile, 19.bis, Rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile, Paris 4. Info. Tel.: 01 43 55 47 09.

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.

Momo Koyo - might not be such a 'big' show but it is for kids too, in the afternoons at 14:30; from today to Thursday, 23. December. At l'Européen, 3/5. Rue Biot, Paris 17. Métro: Place de Clichy. Info. Tel.: 01 43 87 97 13.

New Years Eve

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.

First Afro-World Event of the Millennium - no known address, so you have to hit the Web site. Advance tickets at fnac for 500 francs; correct (?) dress required. Champagne at midnight, from 19:00 to free breakfast at 05:30. Reduction for groups of six or more. Info. Tel.: 01 45 85 59 52.

Competing Afro-Dombolo-Zouk-Ragga - is slightly out-of-town in Montreuil. This one starts at 22:00, includes buffet and drink, and breakfast too. Tickets also available at fnac for 450 francs, or write to this address. At the Parc Montreuillois, 25. Place Jean-Jaurés, Montreuil. Info. Tel.: 06 01 54 86 18.

'Countdown 2000' calls for a gathering of mankind - which happens to be in Paris - at theposter: aladin, cabaret sauvage 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.

Special métro note: - the métro stations where crowds are likely to be dense, will be closed. These are Trocadéro, Bir-Hakeim, George V, Franklin-Roosevelt and Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau. The Etoile métro station will be closed all night.

The RATP will keep its RER 'A' and 'B' trains running every 15 minutes - but within Paris, the SNCF's RER trains will not be operating. These are the 'C' and 'D' lines.

To join SNCF RER suburban lines, you will have to take the métro to the RER stations of Auber, Péreire, Javel, Austerlitz, Saint-Lazare, Montparnasse, Gare du Nord, Denfert-Rochereau, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon or Nation. The SNCF says it will run at least one suburban train per hour on every line throughout the night.

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 will mean a bus every 15 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.'

In addition, these buses are reinforced by 65 suburban buses which begin their runs, staring from the Paris exit 'portes' to go out to distant suburbs.

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:

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.

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