A 'No Siesta' Week

photo: cafe, place edgar quinet

On Saturday in the Place Edgar Quinet in Montparnasse.

Galleries, Salons and 'Afters'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 25. September 2000:- Even in Paris there are weeks that seem sort of routine. Last week seemed like one of these, and this is the only explanation I have for getting into the Rue Campagne Première.

My subconscious told me it had something to do with the poster gallery at Bastille and the important photo salon in my local Mairie's annex - but the connection escapes me now.

I did want to see the 'Arts Deco 2000' exhibition at the Atelier An. Girard in the Rue Campagne Première. This I did, but I still don't know why I ended up taking two tours of the area - and then missing the opening of the Roger Pic photography exhibition at the Chemin du Montparnasse.

On one of these excursions I managed to be unaware of 'carless day' on Friday in Paris by narrowly not taking a lookphoto: antiques weekend at the Rue de Rennes - which is hardly ever mentioned in the history of Montparnasse.

Antique professionals dominate most neighborhood 'brocante' - outdoor sales weekends.

In addition to history, the weekend featured more 'rentrée,' in the form of the quartier's semi-annual antiques sale, and the local activities and sports promo day. At this, I learned where to find the arrondissement's 'official' pétanque pitch and that pétanque jokes can be rude, somewhat in common with wine jokes.

Friday and Saturday were also good weather days in Paris, and this is probably why I have no recollection of Wednesday. I do remember I had no siestas last week.

Café Life

Thursday, after the week's club meeting, I hopped on the métro and headed east to Bastille, where it was attempting to rain. Sidewalks were glistening and the overcast was bringing on an early blue evening, with car lights and neons as highlights.

People were waiting for buses or getting into taxis as I followed wet cobbles into the Cour Damoye behind some silhouettes of hastening umbrellas. None of the shops or ateliers had their lights on, until I got to the Grand Monde gallery.

It was fully lit and its big windows allowed the cinema posters on exhibition to display themselves to the empty cour. I was not only on time for the exhibition's vernissage, I was the first to arrive; with a choice of everything not yet mobbed.

Hervé Millot insisted that I break up a neat plate of 'amuse-bouches' and recommended the small but green grapes he's grown himself. They were sweet and delicate.

Many of the posters were for American films, shown in the '50's, but some were for French and other European films. His partner, Julie Gateau, said they had about 300 posters for sale; some in good condition, some faded by time, and priced accordingly.

The gallery is not big, so not many of the big posters were on display. All were on view in photo albums, coded to match the price list. Within 20 minutes, around the time my orange juice was finished, browsers and buyers began to appear. When I told Dimitri about it later, he said he knew a 'Zorro' fanatic and I gave him the following directions:

Galerie Grand Monde, in the Cour Damoye, entry via 12. Place de la Bastille, Paris 11. Métro: Bastille. InfoTel.: 01 48 05 51 30. The exhibition-sale continues until December.

On Friday, I was on my way to the annex of the local Mairie for the official opening of the 1st Salon Daguerre - which is also this years' National Salon of Art Photos - when I saw Dimitri tramping determinedly down the Rue Boulard towards the café-tabac.

When I caught up to him he was in a dither about getting an envelope and a stamp. I went back to my placephoto: gallery grand monde, julie, herve to get one of the invitations, and an envelope. I keep spares on hand to avoid getting into dithers.

Julie Gateau and Hervé Millot in the poster gallery, 'Grand Monde.'

From the café we walked the two blocks to the annex, past the semi-annual brocante - antique sale - set up in front of the Mairie and overflowing into several surrounding streets. Dimitri said they always have wonderful sausages. I reminded him of the free food and drink that would be at the salon.

He showed his invitation on the way in, but nobody asked to see mine. Photos done by members of the quarter's Photo Club du Val-de-Bièvre were in the entry. Many subjects were familiar because they are all around every day.

The annex building is worth a visit for itself. I don't know its history other than the street it's in is named for an National Guard Colonel killed during the Paris Commune in 1871, the year the street was put through.

The red-brick building's interior seems to be '30's socialist-baroque; with a red-carpeted staircase, lots of marble and fancy iron-work, and huge abstract socialist-reality mural paintings - a worker's palace.

Upstairs, the official ceremony was in progress. The officials, including Lionel Assouad, the Mayor of the 14th arrondissement, were on a little stage partly hidden by a corner of the exhibit; and the crowd completely hid the food and drinks.

The photographers chosen for best black and white and best color photos received their modest pots. Other categories received their certificates. There was general applause for each, with fan clubs being the most generous.

Antique photo printing techniques were also featured. Although nearly forgotten, some of these techniques - 'gomme bichromatée, l'oléobromie' - or using precious metals - platinum or palladium - produce nearly indestructible images.

When the official part was over, the crowd did not have to move far for the wine and cheese. Dimitri had been looking at the photos instead, so he was last in line - but snaked in to return with two plastic dixie-cups of orange juice.

Earlier on Friday, I had taken a tour of the 160-odd photos on display. This had been whittled down from over 800, and I guess there were something like a score of really outstanding photos, from all over France.

The 1st Salon Daguerre continues until Sunday, 1. October. Daily from 10:00 to 18:00. In the Salons of the Mairie's annex, at 12. Rue Durouchoux, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert-Rochereau or Mouton-Duvernet.

Friday - 'Afters' were supposed to be in our habitual café, but Dimitri said it had 'bad vibes.' It was crowded and noisy, but it seemed normal to m. We crossed the street to the Vin des Rues restaurant and convinced the patron we wouldn't tie up one of his sidewalk tables that had been booked for dinner.

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