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Newsletter #40: November 2003

Paris rooftops

Secrets of Paris Newsletter #40: November 5, 2003


* From the Home Office
* Laurent Garnier at the Palais Tokyo
* European Social Forum
* La Maison Baccarat
* La Pinacothèque de Paris
* Holiday Shopping Ideas
* The Ultimate Gift
* Covered Markets Online
* Holiday Reading
* Secret Massacre of 1961
* Petition to Ban Hunting on Sundays
* Beaujolais Nouveau Time!
* Artists Looking for New Year’s Accommodation
* Studio in the 14th for Rent
* Next Club Canadien Hike
* Save Ric’s Metropole

* From the Home Office *
November is always a bit of a blah month in Paris, as the weather turns from crisp to downright cold. I’m still holed up in the South of France, trying to finish my guidebook for the November 30 deadline. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate. Torrential rains caused one of the stone supporting walls in our terraced garden to collapse over the weekend. So we had to beg our local builder Marcel to come and fix it before the rest of the garden slides down the hill into our neighbor’s pool. We stole him away from our neighbor Monica, another American travel writer, who’s been trying to get Marcel to start some work for her since spring. Monica is also trying to finish up a guide — on Italy — and she is quite a bit behind deadline. She told me her editor has threatened to break off her legs if she didn’t come up with the book, pronto. Think of us, dear readers, next time you find a factual error or misspelling in a travel guide. We don’t always write under the optimal conditions. By the next newsletter I should be all done (and hopefully drunk, if I’m lucky). I’ll be back in Paris in December to do more work for Expedia, then I’m looking forward to a very relaxing holiday season. -H

* Laurent Garnier at the Palais de Tokyo *
The Palais de Tokyo is hosting an interesting event titled “Cinéma muet en concert:
Inventaire avant disparition”. The show features the rare, silent film archives of “vanishing indigenous cultures” from around the world commissioned by the philanthropist Albert Kahn in 1909. The films will be accompanied by the live electronic mixes of Laurent Garnier. It takes place December 5, 6 and 7 at 8:30pm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the spaces sell out quickly, so book in advance at 01 40 20 55 00. www.palaisdetokyo.com

* European Social Forum *
Paris and Bobigny are hosting the 2nd European Social Forum (ESF) on November 12-15, with representatives from over 60 countries meeting to promote “reflective thinking and democratic debate of ideas by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism”. Who’s going to be there? Representatives from trade unions, human rights groups, farmers, peace movements, gay rights movements, community solidarity groups, environmental groups, alternative medias, youth movements, feminist movements, international solidarity groups, migrant population advocates, etc. The sessions are open to the public (fee based on income). Read more about it at: www.fse-esf.org (multilingual site)

* La Maison Baccarat *
It seems the French press can’t stop drooling over the new Maison Baccarat, opened last week in the luxurious hôtel-particulier that once belonged to the arts patron Comtesse de Noailles. Its interior — which includes the company headquarters, a showroom, boutique, museum and café – has been completely redesigned by Philippe Starck. The photos look fabu, I can’t wait to see it myself in December! 11 Place des Etats-Unis, 16th Tel: 01 40 22 11 00 www.baccarat.fr

* La Pinacothèque de Paris *
The Second Empire building that Baccarat vacated is now home to a brand new museum, La Pinacothèque de Paris. Their goal is to present international temporary expositions from rarely seen, private collections. The first one, Picasso Intime, opens this Friday with works by the artist never before seen in France from the collection of his last wife, Jacqueline (through March 2004). It’s a privately-owned museum, so the price is a bit steep: €12 (€8 for students, €6 for kids), plus €4.50 for the audio-guide. It will be interesting to see if a for-profit museum manages to last long in Paris, considering the masses can visit the Louvre and the Orsay Museums for €7 or less. Open daily 10am-7pm, until 10:30pm on Monday and Friday. There’s also a café catered by the ubiquitous Monsieur Ducasse. www.pinacotheque.com

* Holiday Shopping Ideas *
Never too early to start planning, right? Make an effort this year to support the city’s many struggling artists and créateurs by shopping for unique gifts at these locations:

CSAO (Compagnie du Sénégal et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest): 1-3 Rue Elzévir, 3rd M° Chemin Vert Tel: 01 44 54 55 88
This “equitable commerce” boutique sells traditional and contemporary crafts from recycled materials by a collective of West African artists. Open Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday 2pm-7pm. www.csao.fr

L’Atélier 74: 74 Rue de la Verrerie, 4th M° Hôtel-de-Ville Tel: 01 42 72 34 84
A collective of 12 artisans sell their hand-crafted jewelry, clothes, decor, gifts and art at this small boutique. Open weekdays 11am-8:30pm, Saturday until 11pm, Sunday 2pm-8pm. http://atelier74.free.fr

Toast Gallery: 3 Rue de l’Estrapade, 5th M° Place Monge Tel: 01 44 07 04 22
This is the Ready-to-Wear of art galleries, destined to bring art to the masses. Paintings and photographs are sold in a non-snobby atmosphere where you can browse by style, size, artist or price (everything is priced between €50 and €915). Wednesday-Sunday 11am-8:30pm. www.toastgallery.com

Viaduc des Arts: 1-129 Avenue Daumesnil, 12th M°Gare de Lyon or Bastille
Over 50 artisans and designers in atelier-boutiques under the restored brick arches of a former elevated railway. www.viaduc-des-arts.com

Marché Parisien de la Création: Boulevard Edgar Quinet (at foot of Montparnasse), 14th M° Montparnasse
An open-air market of over 120 artists and designers selling paintings and crafts. Open Sundays 10am-dark. www.marchecreation.com

Boutique de l’Artisanat Monastique: 68 Avenue Denfert-Rochereau, 14th M° Denfert-Rochereau or RER Port Royal Tel. 01 43 35 15 76. A large boutique selling linens, foods, and crafts made in French monasteries and convents from all over the country. Open weekdays noon-6:30pm, Saturday 2pm-7pm.

There’s also a special holiday shopping festival in the Batignolles district on the night of December 12 (8pm-1:30am) organized by the various artsy boutiques and galleries in the neighborhood. There’s even going to be a little train doing a circuit between the shops, local bars and restaurants. If you haven’t been to Batignolles before, now’s your chance to check it out: www.batignollesnoctambules.com

* The Ultimate Gift *
The Plaza Athénée Hotel (on the Avenue Montaigne) and La Mode Club (personalized shopping and image consultants) are offering a joint package called “Parisian Ultimate”, which includes two nights in a deluxe room at the Plaza Athénée, and a day of personalized pampering to bring out your inner Parisienne: includes fashion consulting, hair and make-up, and a shopping session in the very special and glamorous places known only by true Parisians. The cost? Just €1970 per day…c’mon, you’re worth it, right? For more info check out the website: www.plaza-athenee-paris.com

* Covered Markets Online *
I found a website which lists the collective of covered markets in Paris, with address, opening hours and a list of the stallholders inside. Not a bad idea in these chilly times…www.marchescouvertsparis.com

* Holiday Reading *
I spent a lot of time reading up on Paris history for the guide book. Fascinating stuff, indeed, and it’s a shame that most people will never read more than the brief summaries found in guide books. I recall reading about the French Revolution in school, but it was all really just a blur: mob storms Bastille, decapitates king, creates new Republic, the end. But it wasn’t quite like that. It would be like thinking the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, shot all the Redcoats that tried to follow them, and created a new country, the end. You can find a good selection of books on French culture at www.FrenchCulture.org. Their picks this month include David Garrioch’s “The Making of Revolutionary Paris” and Timothy Tackett’s “When the King Took Flight”, which explores the turning point when the French Revolution transformed into the Reign of Terror.

* Secret Massacre of 1961 *
On a more recent note, many people know about the student-led protest marches of May 1968 that turned into a nationwide workers strike. But did you know that Paris was also the scene of a brutally suppressed civil rights march in 1961? On October 17 a peaceful demonstration by French Algerians protesting curfews imposed on North Africans during the Algerian War ended in slaughter when police open fired on the marchers at the Place de la Concorde. The official word was that three demonstrators died, and independent French media coverage of the massacre was strictly censored by Chief of Police, Maurice Papon. It wasn’t until 30 years later, when Papon was brought to trial for his role in the deportation of French Jews during WWII, that investigations into the 1961 protest found evidence that over 200 Algerians had been murdered, many of their bodies were thrown into the Seine. This is the best English news source I could find: www.fantompowa.net/Flame/algeria_napoli_article.htm

* Petition to Ban Hunting on Sundays *
Fall is usually the best time to walk in the forest, and my dogs certainly appreciate it when we go hiking so they can run free. But anyone who lives near the countryside in France knows that once autumn arrives it’s the end of peaceful hikes. I can hear the guns of hunters from my house, and after reading the annual statistics of humans accidentally shot in France each year, there’s no way I’m going out there. But it’s a shame to be too scared to enjoy the forests, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. There’s a movement to have hunting banned on Sundays (when the most accidents occur) so that families, cyclists, mushroom gatherers can visit the forests without fear of stray bullets. Please sign the petition if you’re a resident and care about this issue: www.aspas-nature.org

* Beaujolais Nouveau Time! *
The annual Beaujolais Nouveau Festival welcoming the first wine of the year takes place this year on November 20. And no humbugging out there! A wise man once said that the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau is like the arrival of a new baby. When it comes, you don’t worry about whether it’s smart or good looking, you celebrate because it’s arrived. The point is to enjoy the Beaujolais Nouveau and wait until the morning to decide whether it was worth it or not. If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, park yourself at the nearest wine bar and you’ll be guaranteed a good time (if not a good wine)! If you’re in the 14th, try the vintage wine bar, Vin des Rues (21 Rue Boulard, M° Denfert-Rochereau Tel: 01 43 22 19 78. No credit cards).

* Artists Looking for New Year’s Accommodation *
One of my closest friends from childhood is finally coming to France! Since she’s an artist, I’ve been bugging her for years to come see Paris and the Riviera. Her and her partner Matthew will be staying with me for a week down south, then they’re heading up to Paris from December 28-January 5. They are both struggling artists, so they’re hoping to rent a room or a studio to save costs by cooking their own food (and they’d really prefer to avoid youth hostels). If anyone is going away for the holidays or has a spare room and wants to make a bit of cash, please let me know ASAP (heather@secretsofparis.com). They have a budget of about €25/night, location isn’t too important. And, they can happily host guests at their home in Oakland (15 minutes by bus from the center of San Francisco) any time of the year.

* Studio in the 14th for Rent *
I got this message this morning from Patricia Laplante-Collins: “Apartment hunting in Paris is difficult so I wanted to let you know that a friend is moving out of her studio in the 14th (metro Alesia) and it will be free around November 15th or Dec 1. If you are interested or know anyone who might be, please contact me for more details: Patricia Laplante-Collins at parissoirees@noos.fr”.

* Next Club Canadien Hike *
Join Brian Spence from the Abbey Bookshop/Club Candien and other French and English speaking hikers on Sunday November 16 for a day in the forests of Maisons-Lafitte. There’s no fee, just bring a packed lunch and water. For detailed info on the meeting place, e-mail Brian at abparis@compuserve.com or call 01 46 33 16 24.

* Save Ric’s Metropole *
All of you who are familiar with Ric Erickson’s Metropole Paris weekly newsletter (going strong since 1996) and Café Metropole Club will be sad to hear that Ric can no longer afford to keep his insightful newsletter afloat all on his own. He was going to close it down until a number of fans convinced him to go against his own rules and ask for donations and “relevant” advertising. If you want to see the Metropole continue, please visit Ric’s site and make a Shareware donation (or, if you have a service for the Paris Anglophone community, buy advertising space): www.metropoleparis.com

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