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Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris I - for December - 'Concerto Barocco,' with George Balanchine, features the opera's first dance team. Also see Jerome Robbins' 'Afternoon of a Faun' with music by Debussy. George Balanchine also stages two other pieces, 'Tchaikovsky-pas de Deux' and 'Sérénade.' Often at 19:30, but also at 14:30 and 20:00. First date is Monday, 1. December. The last date on Wednesday, 31. December, is a 'gala' night requiring evening dress, with deep pockets. At the Opéra Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, Paris 9. Métro: Opéra. RésaTel.: 08 92 89 90 90.

Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris II - for December - 'Pavane,' with Michel Kelemenis and music by Ravel, features the opera's first dance team. Also see 'Glacial Decoy,' 'Un Trait d'Union' and 'Liebeslieder Walzer.' George Balanchine and Angelin Preljocaj are the dance masters and some of the music is Bach and Brahms. Dates begin on Wednesday, 17. December and continue until Saturday, 3. January. At the Opéra Palais Garnier, Place de l'Opéra, Paris 9. Métro: Opéra. RésaTel.: 08 92 89 90 90.

Near Life Experience - choregraphy by Angelin Preljocaj, with electro-pop by the group 'Air' - which is not the same as 'techno!' From Wednesday, 10. December until Tuesday, 23. December. Times are usually 20:30 or 15:00, but no shows on Monday, 15. December or Sunday, 21. December. At the Théâtre de la Ville, 2. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 42 74 22 77.

Tango Pasion - for its 10th anniversary, the steps are managed by Hector Zaraspe, withposter: tintin, le temple du soleil the El Sexeto orchestra, and a bunch of slinky dancers. Start date is Friday, 19 December, followed by various dates until Sunday, 4. January. At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 15. Avenue Montaigne, Paris 8. Métro: Place de l'Alma. RésaTel.: 01 49 52 50 50 - same as last year.

Der Fliegende Hollander - by Richard Wagner, with the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra. Directed by James Conlon. On the following dates and times - Monday, 1. December at 19:30, Thursday, 6. December at 19:30, Friday, 14. December at 14:30, Thursday, 20. December at 19:30 and Tuesday, 23. December at 19:30. At the Opéra, Bastille, 2 bis. Place de la Bastille, Paris 12. Métro: Bastille. InfoTel.: 08 92 89 90 90 [toll number].

Die Fledermaus - by Johann Strauss, with the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra. Directed by Vladmir Jurowski alternating with Rudolf Bibl; Mise en scène by Coline Serreau. On Tuesday, 2. December at 19:30, Thursday, 4. December at 19:30, Sunday, 7. December at 14:30, Tuesday, 9. December at 19:30, Saturday, 13. December at 19:30, Monday, 15. December at 19:30, Thursday, 18. December at 19:30, Friday, 19. December at 19:30, Monday, 22. December at 19:30, Wednesday, 24. December at 19:30, Friday, 26. December at 19:30, Monday, 29. December at 19:30, Monday, 12. January at 19:30, Thursday, 15. January at 19:30, Wednesday, 21. January at 19:30, Saturday, 24. January at 19:30, Tuesday, 27. January at 19:30 and Wednesday, 28. January at 19:30. At the Opéra, Bastille, 2 bis. Place de la Bastille, Paris 12. Métro: Bastille. InfoTel.: 08 92 89 90 90 [toll number].

La Belle Hélène - by Jacques Offenbach, directed by Marc Minkowski. Many dates beginning on 7. December and including New Years Eve, and continuing until 4. January. At the Théâtre du Châtelet, 1. Place du Châtelet, Paris 1. Métro: Châtelet. InfoTel.: 01 40 28 28 40.

Lautrec et les Cancans du Moulin - an exhibition showing Toulouse-Lautrec and the world of the Moulin Rouge, for both kids and their parents. At the same location, see 'Gauguin par-çi, Gauguin par-là,' until Wednesday, 28. January. Until Friday, 30. April. The park is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00, but on Saturdays from 14:00 to 18:00. At the Musée en Herbe, in the Jardin d'Acclimatation just inside the Bois de Boulogne. Paris 16. Métro: Sablons. InfoTel.: 01 40 67 97 66.

L'Invention du Monde - maps, globes, and the world as seen by contemporary artists will entertain kids and their minders. Until Monday, 8. March.from 11:00 to 21:00 daily except on Tuesdays. At the Centre Georges Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, Paris 4. Métro: Rambuteau. InfoTel.: 01 44 78 12 33.

Le Cirque à Venise - the Cirque Messidor presents 'Arlequin au Carnaval.' Continues only until Wednesday, 14. December. Performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 14:30, at 20:30 on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 17:00 on Sundays. At the Cirque Messidor, Pelouse de Saint-Cloud, in the Bois de Boulogne west of the Auteuil racetrack. Paris 16. Métro: Ranelagh or Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 01 43 22 41 71.

Le Cirque à l'Ancienne - is actually 30 years old, but is still an Alexis Grüss production. Continues until Sunday, 29. February. Performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 14:00, at 20:30 on Friday, on Saturday at 14:00 and 20:30, and at 14:00 and 17:15 on Sundays. At the Cirque Alexis Grüss, Pelouse de Saint-Cloud, in the Bois de Boulogne west of the Auteuil racetrack. Paris 16. Métro: Ranelagh or Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 01 45 01 71 26.

Blanche Neige - is the musical-comedy version about the little girl who had seven dwarfs for uncles - for kids five and up, by les Frères Grimm. This is a big production with 40 players, who act, really sing and dance. Beginning on Friday, 19. december and continuing until Sunday, 4. January. Daily, at 11:00 and 16:00. At the Folies Bergère, 32. Rue Richer, Paris 9. Métro: Cadet. InfoTel.: 01 44 79 98 98.

Les Animanux Sont Rois - is the title of this season's circus by Pinder Jean Richard.poster: alsace Unique! The liontamer alone in a cage with 16 man-eaters. Until Sunday, 4. January. At the Pelouse de Reuilly, in the Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12. Métro: Porte Dorée or Porte de Charenton. InfoTel.: 01 43 44 09 09.

Tintin, Le Temple du Soleil - is the musical comedy version of the comic book and is probably a pretty big show. Starting on Saturday, 8. November. Regular showtimes are 20:30, with 15:00 and 20:30 on Wednesday and Saturday, and at 15:30 on Sunday. No shows on Monday or Tuesday. At the Hippodrôme d'Auteuil, Allée des Fortifications, in the Bois de Boulogne. Paris 16. Métro: Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 01 42 61 39 95.

Voltige - a high-voltage circus performance at the Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione. On Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 14:00 and 17:00, and at 14:00 every day during school holidays. At the Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione, 110. Rue Amelot, Paris 11. Métro: Filles-du-Calvaire. InfoTel.: 01 48 05 48 70.

Ca C'est du Cirque - is the name for the Cirque Diana Moreno Bormann, which performs all year long on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 15:00 with a second Saturday show at 20:30 twice a month. Other performances on all holidays. Most likely like real circus. Find it at Rue de la Haie-Coq, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de la Chapelle or bus 65. InfoTel.: 01 64 05 36 25.

The Cirque de Pekin Visits the Cirque Phenix - features circus stars' from China. To start on Saturday, 22. November and continue until Sunday, 4. January, with no shows on Mondays. At the Foire du Trône, Pelouse de Reuilly, in the Bois de Vincennes, Paris 12. Métro: Porte Dorée or Liberté. InfoTel.: 08 25 03 90 40.

Le Grand Céleste - is a smaller, human-scale circus that mixes up carny acts like the 'Human Cannon' with original music and with sort of a story to it all. Until 25. April, showtimes are at 20:45 on Friday and Saturday. Additional shows at 15:00 on Sundays and holidays, and at 14:30 and 17:00 on Sundays in December. At Le Grand Céleste, 22. Rue Paul-Maurice, Paris 20. Metro: Porte des Lilas. RésaTel.: 01 53 19 99 13.

Zingaro - a very snazzy show full of snazzier horses, with Tibetan monks attending, and directed by Bartabas. Until Sunday,29. February, at 20:30 and at 17:30 on Sundays. No shows on Monday and Thursday. At the Théâtre Zingaro, 176, Avenue Jean-Jaurés, in Aubervilliers. Métro: Aubervilliers-Pantin Quartre Chemins - or Paris bus 65. InfoTel.: 08 92 68 18 91.

Cirque d'Arlette Gruss - presents 'Carnaval,' a traditional circus, with two hours worth of laughs. From Wednesday, 26. November until 29. February. At 20:30 on Wednesday, 24. December, followed by a midnight mass; Performances at 14:00 on Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. On the Pelouse de Reuilly, Paris 12. Métro: Porte de Charenton or Porte Dorée. InfoTel.: 01 40 36 08 00.

Nouvelles Figures du Clown - follow Buster Keaton, with nine companies, in two circus tents, plus another tent for eats. Modernity mixed with classical in this series of shows. Beginning Friday, 5. December and continuing until Wednesday, 31. December. At the Parc de la Villette, 211. Avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de Pantin. InfoTel.: 01 40 03 75 75.

Megalopolis - is a 'hip-hop' circus, inspired by the Tower of Babel, presented by Joseph Bouglione. This starts on Saturday, 27. December and continues until Sunday, 29. February. Usually at 14:30 on Wednesdays, at 15:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Check for other times. At the Pelouse de Saint-Cloud, in the Bois de Boulogne west of the Auteuil racetrack. Paris 16. Métro: Ranelagh or Porte d'Auteuil. InfoTel.: 06 80 11 11 98.

Tendres Doudous - an exhibition of teddies - or 'doudous' as they are called here - for the holiday season. Until Sunday, 21. March. From 10:00 to 18:00 daily except Mondays. At the Musée de la Poupée, in the Impasse Berthaud, just off 22. Rue Rambuteau, Paris 3. Métro: Rambuteau. InfoTel.: 01 42 72 73 11.

Le Dindon - or, 'The Turkey,' which is a strange name for a theatre piece, except this one plays every Christmas. It's a comedy by Georges Feydeau, about dancing fools. Continues until 25. January. At the Comédie Française, 2. Rue de Richelieu, Paris 1. Métro: Palais-Royal. InfoTel.: 08 25 10 16 80.

Boule de Neige et Casse-Noisette - is show for little kids, presented by Lou Véronique Husson. With music by Tchaikovsky, the little snowball discovers a new world. From Sunday, 7. December until Wednesday, 7. January. At 10:30 on Wednesdays and at 11:00 on Sundays. At the Aktéon Théâtre, 11. Rue du Général-Blaise, Paris 11. Métro: Saint-Ambroise. InfoTel.: 01 43 38 74 62.

Scéne Items

Shanghai - is featured in two photo exhibitions. One is 'Shanghai 1920-1950' and the otherposters: nouvelle figures du clown, villette is 'Shanghai Hier et Demain' by Marc Riboud. Starting on Wednesday, 10. December and continuing until Sunday, 7. March 2004. Except Mondays, from 10:00 to 18:00. At the Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris, 23. Rue de Sévigné, Paris 3. Métro: Saint-Paul or Chemin Vert. InfoTel.: 01 44 59 58 58.

Ernest Hébert - Ernest Hébert was a portrait painter of the Proustian 'Belle Epoque.' He lived for 40 tears in Italy, some as director of the Villa de Médicis. This obscure museum - in a historical monument - features his works, and well as furniture and artifacts. Open Wednesday to Friday, 12:30 to 18:00, and weekends and holiday from 14:00 to 18:00. Closed Tuesday. Musée Nationale Ernest Hébert, 85. rue Cherche Midi, Paris 6. Métro: Vaneau or Saint-Placide. InfoTél.: 01 42 27 23 82.

No two Christmas seasons in Paris are exactly the alike, but except for 1999, they aren't much different either. Here are a selection of festive year-end pages from past issues.

Anno 2002

Metropole Issue 7.50 - 10. December 2002

Anno 2001

Metropole Issues 6.50, 6.51 - 8 and 15. December 2001

Anno 2000

Metropole Issues 5.50, 5.51, 5.52 - 9, 20 and 23. December

Anno 1999

Noël of 1999 was somewhat confusing because Paris decided it was changing the century and the millennium a year early, so there was a big program for this year-early fête - which was quite successful.

However, all the hoopla for it subtracted a bit from Paris' usual seasonal program - and caused Metropole to have three weekly 'Scene' columns for a number of issues.

Metropole Issues 4.51, 4.52 - 18 and 27. December 1999

Anno 1998

Metropole Issue 3.52 - 28. December 1998

Anno 1997

Metropole Issue 2.52 - 29. December 1997

Anno 1996

Metropole Issue 1.45 - 30. December 1996

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