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Newsletter #47: May 2004

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Secrets of Paris Newsletter #47: May 5, 2004



* From the Editor
* Prepare for the Summer!
* Literary Events
* Arts Events
* Outdoor Events
* Sightseeing in Paris
* Sightseeing in Ile-de-France
* Food Fairs
* Shopping: The Cutting Edge of Underground Paris
* Shopping Fun
* The Changing Face of Paris
* Eating: Au Duc de Montmorency
* Recommended Reading: When the French and Americans Were Friends
* Listen Up Expats in France!
* Moving Sale
* Extra-Large Furnished Studio Available for Summer

For easier clicking, read this newsletter online at /news47.htm

* From the Editor *
Congratulations to the ten winners of the Pro-France Slogan Contest! Francine Harcourt Caplan, with the slogan “Liberté Started Here”, has won the Grand Prize of a free hot-air balloon trip with France Montgolfieres. Read all ten of the winning slogans at Ric’s Metropole Paris. Thanks to everyone who participated – we had over 149 entries, and only two had to be censored. 😉 If you missed out, well, maybe next time! -H

* Prepare for the Summer *
After some lovely weather two weeks ago, Paris has gone all wet and chilly again. And yet, people are still paranoid that another heat wave will hit this summer, so sales of fans and air conditioners are up. If you’re planning on being in Paris in July or August and can’t live without A/C, better book your hotels now!

* Literary Events *
Tomorrow (May 6) is a reading by award-winning poets James Baker Hall (author of Praeder’s Letters), Jeffrey Greene (author of: American Spirituals) and Cecilia Woloch (author of Late). It’s 7pm at Shakespeare and Company (37, rue de la Bûcherie, 5th, Paris). Free entry. (Note: if there are too many people, it may get moved around the corner to Polly Magoo’s; look for signs).

On Saturday (May 8th) the writers housed at Shakespeare & Company Bookstore will be presenting nine plays in 90 minutes. “It’s fresh, fast and furious. Come leap into spring with our Ten Minute, One-act Play Festival. We have high drama, low comedy and everything in-between.” The show begins at 8pm at La Villette L’Usine (102 blvd. Villette, 19th, Paris. M° Colonel Fabien). Free entry!

Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, will speak at the Sorbonne’s Amphithéâtre Richelieu on Monday, May 10, beginning at 8pm. She will be reading from her most recently published book, Love. Ms. Morrison will also be signing books the following day, Tuesday May 11th, at the Virgin bookstore on the Champs-Elysées.

François Brunet and Declan McCavana, authors of the Bilingual Dictionary of Today’s Slang, present an evening of contemporary slang on May 13 at 5:30pm, at the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore (22, rue St Paul 4th, Paris, Tel 01 48 04 75 08, M° St Paul, Sully

On Sunday May 16th, Moving Parts Presents a play in English: John Ireland’s "The Magic Hour", 7.30 pm at Carr’s Pub & Restaurant (1 rue du Mont Thabor, 1st,
Paris M°: Tuileries, www.scamparis.com).

To get a complete listing of literary events in Paris mailed directly to you each month, send an e-mail to Jen at fragment78@aol.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line.

* Arts Events *
If the galleries of S-Germain-des-Prés are a bit intimidating to you, head down to the friendly 14th for the annual Portes Ouvertes (May 15-16), when almost 200 artists in the quarter open their ateliers (studios) to the public, including painters, photographers, sculptors, and even musicians. On Saturday the ateliers will be open from 2:30pm-8pm, and on Sunday from 11am-7pm. You can find more info at the Town Hall of the 14th (Mairie: 2, place Ferdinand Brunot, 14th), or at the bistro-gallery, Au Vrai Paris (60 Rue Didot, 14th Tel 01 45 43 30 24 Open daily except Monday morning). Many of the artists of the 14th also display and sell their works every Sunday at the Marché de la Création (Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 14th, M° Montparnasse).

* Outdoor Events *
The French horse-racing association, France Galop, is hosting Les Dimanches au Galop: free entrance, free parking, kids’ entertainment, behind-the-scenes tours, and — of course — horse races. The next one is Sunday the 9th at the Hippodrome d’Auteuil (jumping), and the following two Sundays (May 16th and 23rd) at the Hippodrome de Longchamp (flatracing), both in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16th. The doors open from noon, with the first races at 1:45pm, and the last races at 5:50pm. There are restaurants at the racetrack, but pack a picnic if you want to eat on the lawn.

As part of the annual Nautical Festival (Fête du Nautisme), spectators are invited to watch the “Unidentified Floating Object” race Sunday, May 16th at approximately 2:30pm at the Port de l’Arsenal (11 Boulevard Bastille, 11th, M° Bastille). I quite like this port, because even though it’s right off the Place de la Bastille, there are hardly any tourists, and there’s a nice garden/park, a playground for kids, and a café with a quiet terrace.

* Sightseeing in Paris *
My favorite museum in Paris, the Musée Jacquemart-André, has a special exhibition, “Par Amour de l’Art”, which displays the master paintings from the Renaissance through the 18th century collected by Nélie Jacquemart and her husband Edouard André. Although these art lovers donated their Parisian mansion to the city to become a museum at the end of the 19th century, their private collection was so large that most of the paintings shown in this exhibit have never been seen by the public before. Through August 15. Entrance (with audioguide): €8.50. Address:158, blvd Haussmann, 8th, M° Saint-Philippe du Roule. Open daily 10am-6pm.

* Sightseeing in Ile-de-France *
There’s a Victor Hugo Museum in Paris, located in the apartment where Hugo lived on the Place des Vosges. But he frequently escaped Paris to Bièvres, a tiny village south of Paris, where he did some of his best writing in the Château des Roches, an elegant estate surrounded by formal French gardens, today know as the Maison Litteraire de Victor Hugo. This season’s exposition celebrates the friendship between Hugo and the writer George Sand. The château is open weekends from 2:30pm-6:30pm. Address: 45, rue de Vauboyen, Bièvres, (SNCF from Paris Gare d’Austerlitz, direction Versailles, stop at Bièvres ir Vauboyen). tel 01 69 41 82 84. Entrance is €4, but I have a voucher for “buy one entry, get one free”. I can send this voucher and a brochure (in French) to the first reader who asks for it. Update: It’s gone! Congrats to Gracia Odon, who replied in less than five minutes after I sent out the newsletter!

* Food Fairs *
The 100th Foire de Paris runs until Sunday, May 9th at the Porte de Versailles (10am-7pm, until 11pm this Friday). This is the grand-daddy of all fairs, made up of 22 different halls featuring everything from food and wine to new inventions, sports, travel and home décor. There are jazz concerts throughout the day all around the fair grounds. And, of course, hundreds of thousands of people…Tickets €6-€10, free for kids under 7, €15 for two-day pass.

If you’re looking for a more compact food fair, try the Salon des Plaisirs Gourmands at the Espace Champerret (Metro Porte de Champerret) through May 10, with food, wine, gifts, and travel ideas. Open 10am-7pm, until 10pm on Friday. Entry €8.

* Shopping *
The Espace Lab 101 is a tiny (20m²) boutique run by two of the city’s top electro DJs, Princesse Léa and Jean-Louis Faverole. The shop sells ultra-specialized CDs, DVDs, fanzines, cutting edge clothing and accessories – and at prices that won’t scare anyone off. Some have called it the Underground version of the fashionista haunt Colette, but this is much more authentically Parisian, and many creations are one of a kind. 44 Rue Rochefoucauld, 9th M° Pigalle tel 01 49 95 95 85.

* Shopping Fun *
The French are having a good laugh at (and buying) the controversial Tom Bihn bags (made in Seattle, Washington) after the press discovered the French care instructions on the labels (for French Canadians) added the following text:

“NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N’AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI." Translated to English, the phrase reads, "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him." Up to you to decide which president the sneaky Tom Bihn employees are referring to…

* The Changing Face of Paris *
If you haven’t been paying attention, the City has finally decided to completely overhaul the central district of Les Halles, including the Forum des Halles commercial center, the surrounding gardens and shopping district, and the huge tangle of the Châtelet-Les Halles RER and Metro interchange. Having lived and worked in the neighborhood, I can’t wait to see the old monstrous Forum (which looks like a rejected set from Star Trek) torn down. In case you’re not up on the problems of Les Halles, see the photo essay (with text in French only) on the current problems. The winning project plans by Seura/David Mangin are displayed in the Forum at the Grande Galerie du Forum des Halles (Level -3), Tuesday through Saturday. You can also look at it online, but it’s a heavy page.

* Eating: Au Duc de Montmorency *
I’ve known about this tiny little epicerie-deli for years, and even lived two streets away for a year, but I’ve only recently been sneaking in for lunch on a regular basis. It’s just a 3-minute walk from the Pompidou Center, at 46 Avenue de Montmorency, across from the historic Nicolas Flamel restaurant. Inside, the friendly chef Laurent Delcros (those are his guitars behind the counter) serves up fresh and tasty foods like pork lasagna, roast chicken, stuffed eggplant, and open faced, grilled sandwiches on Poîlane bread. My pal Victoria has fallen for their fig bread (big ole pieces of fig baked right in). Everything is organic, and can be wrapped to go, but there’s a few tables and stools that you can pull up to eat “sur place”. And you can eat well for under €10. Tel 01 42 72 18 10.

* Recommended Reading: When the French and Americans Were Friends *
Armchair historians may enjoy reading about the American Field Services in France from WWI. “Friends of France 1914-1917” includes the names and profiles of the American volunteers who fought with the French Army while America was still officially neutral. Particularly fascinating are the many poems and humorous sketches included in this book, many in the familiar franglais that develops when Americans live in France!

Another fascinating read can be found at a website dedicated to Kiffin Yates Rockwell, one of the first AFS volunteers in WWI and pilot for the Lafayette Escadrille (named after General La Fayette, the French aristocrat who helped America win its independence from the British). The website’s author, named Kiffin himself in honor of the pilot, has really done his research, and presents the history of Kiffin Rockwell and the rest of the Lafayette Espadrille in a very readable way, including many photos, quotes, and links to similar sites.

* Listen Up Expats in France! *
The U.S. Census Bureau is strongly urging American citizens who are residents of France to take part in the 2004 Overseas Enumeration Test. This test census is important because it will help Congress determine whether all U.S. citizens living abroad should be included in future censuses. The questionnaires can be filled out online at http://www.census.gov/overseas04. They are strictly confidential, because the U.S. Census Bureau is prohibited by law from sharing any information that can identify individuals or their families with any other entity foreign or domestic. More information about the census can be found on the site of the Association of Americans Resident Overseas.

* Moving Sale *
Secrets of Paris reader Daneen Forlizzi (daneenforlizzi@hotmail.com) is leaving France (Neuilly) to move back to the US this summer, and has a whole household full of furniture and appliances, none more than two years old, for sale at half price. Contact her for a list and photos.

* Extra-Large Furnished Studio Available for Summer *
If anyone out there is looking for summer furnished rental, the apartment I’m currently renting will be available in June, preferably for 1-3 months. It’s in a lively area of the 16th, near shops, two metro lines and three bus lines. It has a separate bathroom, kitchen and niche for the bed. Sleeps two very comfortably and has a small terrace. Contact me if you’d like more info and I’ll put you in touch with the owner.

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