'Ed' Discovers 'Real Life'

photo: cafe metro, arch to cour, belleville

The Rue de Belleville with a café named 'Métro.'

It Is Full of People

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. November 2000:- This morning does not look as bright as yesterday morning - when I went out in the courtyard and found my landlord happily huffing and puffing after a long run back from the Luxembourg gardens.

He said it was great weather. It looked like it. I had gone out to find one poster to bring the number up to four, and did not find the sun's slanting rays reflecting off the glass-covered posters any help at all.

Luckily, the posters were of such low class, that I'm glad I saved two from my 'week off' - it is only with these that Metropole gets its full set of four this week.

Last night's forecast did not predict more nice weather, but did predict warmer temperatures for a few days to come this week. Since it is nearly December, do not expect these 'warmer' times to resemble a heat wave.

Real Life Returns

For my 'week off' I did unreal things that most people visiting Paris really do all the time. My general impression is that there isn't enough time and there are too many people trying to cram themselves into it.

In other words, Paris' attractions - especially inside onesphoto: a vendre, lav'matic laundromat like visiting galleries and museums - are so crowded that it is hard to find time to think about what is being presented.

This is normal, I think. Paris is successful. Even though there are hundreds of various attractions open at any given time, there are tens of thousands of spectators on hand to view them.

An 'old photo' exhibition is featured in this issue, along with 'old' photos taken near the Rue de Belleville on Friday.

My unconscious knows this. The week before last, I spent some time experiencing it in person. Addresses and times for the following exhibitions can be found in this week's 'Scene' column.

Café Life

La Terre Vue du Ciel

This is a remarkable outdoor photo exhibition that was originally programmed for a time in late spring. It was extended until the end of October, and now it has been extended again until the end of the year.

All of the photos are of the earth, taken from heights of 30 to 3000 metres. While the photos have a scientific background reason, many of the images are simply stunning.

The photos are large, they are elevated and the viewing platform is the sidewalk - so there is plenty of room to view them as long as you want to. Accompanying texts are in French and English. There is also a tent set up just inside the park, to show films and sell souvenir sets of the photos.

My guess is that a conservator comes by every couple of weeks to see if the attendance is keeping up. If it is, the exhibition gets prolonged. Outdoor wear highly recommended. Located on the railings of the Jardin du Luxembourg, near the corner of the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the Rue de Médicis, Paris 5.

Fra Angelico to Bonnard

Close to the photo show above, the French Senat's Musée du Luxembourg is showing part of the extremely rare and private Rau collection of paintings that span 500 years.

This museum has had its ups and downs since it was built in 1615 for Marie de Médicis. After being abandoned in 1937, the Senat has now taken over its direction again and intends to give it the attention it deserves. This exhibition continues until Thursday, 4. January.


Hitting this show was rubbing shoulders with a major exhibition crowd in a small part of the Grand Palais. At a time when I expected everybody to be shoulder-to-shoulder at lunch, it seems like a lot of other people were expecting the same as me.

The idea of this exhibition of paintings, is that train services to the Côte d'Azur permitted impressionists and their forerunners and followers, to gain the coast of the Mediterranean in a eye's twinkle - to have it stunned by the light.

If you go to these coasts today, many unfamous painters continue to turn out similar paintings forphoto: entry ticket, expo mediterranee the thousands of galleries that sell them for placement on the walls of millions of little villas and apartments.

One of the 'got right' paintings illustrates the exhibition's entry ticket.

I have been in that light a lot. Some of the very famous painters 'got it' right - which is no easy thing to do because it is partly in the mind - but many did not. Bright Mediterranean light is something I remember well, but I think it is no easy matter to express it.

Although there were guides running groups through the Luxembourg show too, at the Grand Palais it seemed as if their groups were too large. It was difficult to get past them; and it was not easy to get a clear view of anything.

If a clear view was available, it did not last for long. I'm sure I saw two or three really outstanding pieces, briefly, but I don't remember what they were or who did them - which is about average for me. At the Grand Palais, until Monday, 15. January.

Paris en 80 Quartiers

One-twentieth of this city-wide show was on show three blocks from where I live, and it was not overwhelmed by visitors when I saw it. But the few visitors that there were, were studying it with some intensity.

Some arrondissements are big and some are small; some or more or less interesting. But when a huge crew is set to work to reproduce each one - with documents, photos, maps, in video films, with interactive multimedia - even a small arrondissement takes on another dimension.

With each arrondissement divided into an average of four quartiers, there is a lot of detail, even if the quarter's past, present and future is being presented. Just multiplying one arrondissement's show by 20 can give a staggering idea of the diversity of Paris.

Apparently there is no current plan to assemble the show into one piece - on a CD-ROM or DVD for example. Even if only done with a soundtrack in French, it would still be an astonishing souvenir of Paris in 2000. Until 13. January.

Metropole's 'Mois de la Photo' Continues

Rare photos of a mostly 'disappeared' Paris are on show at the Archives de Paris, also presented in a small feature in this issue. These archives will also be of interest to researchers, because they contain a wide variety of records; some of which are very old.

The program for the 'Mois de la Photo' was presented as Paris' Portrait 2000. To get an overall idea of all the photo activities plus sme links, consult this page.

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