The Pre-Christmas Program VIII

cartoon: bonne annee 99
Paris offers both 'disco' or 'live' music; you get to choose.

Seasonal and New Year's Eve Events

Paris:- Saturday, 26. December 1998:- It may be a bit late now to warn you about wretched excess. Le Parisien took the trouble to do it in its Christmas Eve editions - which I consider may have been too late, by a few days or weeks or even months.

On Christmas Eve, pretty much everything the French think they are going to eat and drink, has been decided, programmed and most likely, purchased. No matter what restraint is exercised, a noted nutritionist says the damage will be an extra two kilos for everybody in January.

Nevertheless, Le Parisien devoted two pages full of hints and tips about how to survive the holiday table. One hint is really good: not eating or drinking anything for a day before - sort of 'empty-barrel' training - doesn't help anything.

What you are supposed to do in advance: drink a lot of water; stay as calm as you can, and take a siesta if you get a chance. If you think you may be taking in a lot of liquids stronger than water, take a spoonful of olive oil beforehand - or eat tin of sardines.

During the event itself, don't mix hard booze and don'tphoto: olympia: muriel robin mix it with wine. Make the limit two kinds of wine, one red and one white, plus Champagne of course. Taking three of four spoonfuls of plain sorbet in the middle of the meal is supposed to be a real aid to your system.

The oil and sardine measures are supposed to slow the absorption of alcohol by the blood. This may work well during the evening, but it might prolong the effects the next day. There are supposed to be some pharmaceutical remedies for indigestion the 'day after,' but these may only be freely available in France.

If the worst happens, the remedy is also the same as the training: sleep as long as you can, drink a lot of water; stay as calm as possible and take a siesta if you get a chance. Do not go jogging.

Other remedies are supposed to be sparkling water for the head. Some say cola softdrinks help the stomach. Some teas are supposed to be good, and there are a variety of homeopathic pills for various affected area. Aspirin is supposed to be avoided. Eat something really light, and take another siesta.

While Le Parisien's hints and tips may be too late to prevent too much pre-positioning of stocks, their advice is meant to cover the period from Christmas Eve to Saturday, 2. January.

In other words, just because it's on the shelf or in the fridge, you don't have to make sure both are empty on the second day in 1999. Finally, why not take another siesta?

Montmartre's New Year's Day Parade

I have always wanted to see the big New Year's Day Parade, but every year in the past I've always found out about it too late. As you see, I know about it now, so I'd better be there.

This annual Montmartre affair will feature 3,000 participants; some coming from Britain and the United States. It starts off at 14:00 on Friday, 1. January 1999, at the Rochechouart corner of Pigalle and the rue des Martyrs; and it winds its way up the Butte to finish about 15:30 in front of Sacré-Coeur.

Besides the pom-pom girls from the US, there will be London taxis, clowns, acrobats, marching bands and jingling bells. The route should be: rue des Martyrs, Abbesses, Lepic, Tourlaque, Caulaincourt, Lamarck, Sacré-Coeur, Cardinal-Dubois, Saint-Eleuthère, Azais and Cardinal-Guibert.

Gala Dinners and Shows

More than 70 well-known restaurants and clubs offer gala dinners for under 500 francs and there are some in the 300-franc range. Usually these festive menus do not include drinks, so you can add quite a bit to your bill unless you are a hydraulic.

For a gala meal, one example is the restaurant chain Chez Clément, which has a reasonable multi-course menu for 200 francs, for either the evening of the 24th or lunch on the 25th.

Even the Hotel Prince de Galles is offering a menu for under 500 francs, but I'd watch the drink prices carefully here. There are a lot of other well-known establishments with offers in the under-500 franc range.

New Year's Eve is generally more expensive, to cover the cost of funny hats, a bit of tinsel and some music. More than 80 places are in the 500 to 1000-franc category. Champagne is often a necessity for New Year's, so remember to bring an extra 500 francs for a couple of bottles of this.

Getting into longer menus and more music and more of everything brings you into the 1000 to 1500-franc area. La Tour d'Argent and the Villa d'Este are here at around 1350 francs, along with 30 competitors.

Over 1500 francs sometimes puts you overcartoon: saxo new year everybody's heads by being at the top of the Tour Montparnasse or in the Jules Verne on the second level of the Tour Eiffel, which sounds reasonable for 1800 francs to start. In this category there are also famous restaurants such as Le Grand Vefour and Ledoyen; both around 2000 francs.

Winners of the cost-is-no-object theme are Les Ambassadeurs at 2500 francs, Laurent at 2800 francs and Maxim's at 3100 francs. A bottle of Champagne could cost 1500 francs at Maxim's, but what the heck! You only live once and you may only do this once in Paris.

Cabarets also serve some sort of menu, but the main thing is the show they put on; some costumed and others less so. For an example, the Lido is charging 800 francs for dinner and the show, or just the show with Champagne for 550 francs; tip included. The point is, once in a place like this, it is hard to stop at just one half-bottle of Champagne.

The Villa d'Este, just off the Champs-Elysées, seems to be typical. With a cabaret, gala dinner - about 700 francs for Christmas Eve and about 1400 francs for New Year's Eve.

But before you say this is all too stratosphérique, you can always head for the Cabeau de la Huchette on the Left Bank - open since 1946! - and get some really good music; all for 130 francs to get in and drinks starting from 38 francs a pop. In this class there are also La Chapelle des Lombards in the rue de Lappe, Le New Riverside and the Slow Club.

Finally, for true Paris fans, the Moulin Rouge puts on a 'Formidable' show on New Year's Eve for 2400 francs a person, which includes dinner, dancing and Champagne with a date. In your diary, note Thursday, 31. December, at 21:00. By the time you get around to paying, they might be accepting Euros.

Circus Time!

At the Cité des Sciences there are many special events for children of all ages - in the Cité des Enfants, by the electricity exhibition, and at Techno Cité. One not to be missed, is the Petit Cirque Scientifique on the first floor, in the Explora section.

This show lasts about 25 minutes, with a company of actors, musicians, jugglers, magicians - and researchers! - who make a sort of an introduction to Galileo, Issac Newton and Urbain Le Verrier, and the principles of their discoveries. You are supposed to 'leave your old ideas outside the door.'

At the Cité des Sciences, 30. avenue Corentin-Cariou, Paris 19. Métro: Porte de la Villette. Open from noon to 18:00, and on Monday, 28. December from 10:00 to 18:00.

Le Petit Cirque Scientifique show runs every day until Sunday, 3. January. Showtimes are 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30. No morning show on 1. January. Reservations recommended for the Circus; Reso. Tel.: 01 40 05 12 12.

The 'Moscow On Ice' circus has excellent bear skaters. This show is half circus and half fancy ice-skating - trapeze acts on skates? Yes skates! - and trained monkeys too, in addition to clowns. Or maybe they are clowns dressed as monkeys? Or bears dressed as clowns? Until Sunday, 3. January, on the Pelouse de Reuilly in the Bois de Vincennes. Métro: Porte Dorée or Porte de Charenton. Info. Tel.: 01 49 87 32 32.

Pinder is the biggest circus, with a tent that can hold 4,500 spectators. Circus puro, with elephants and tigers, music and lights; and prices starting at a low 65 francs. Same date and location as above: the Pelouse de Reuilly. Info. Tel.: 01 43 44 09 09.

Alexis Gruss - is Gruss senior and he goes for 'classic' circus, elegant circus, circus with non-stop costumes and the main acts are done by dancing horses and lesser acts have lots of trained animals too. Until Sunday, 7. March; on the Pelouse de Madrid, in the Bois de Boulogne. Métro: Info. Tel.: 01 44 17 96 22.

Trapeze At Villette

The 'Arts Sauts Company' has reinvented the trapeze in a new imaginary aerial space, one that will give you an urge to fly higher than usual too. Until Sunday, 17. January, at La Villette. Call for exact location: Info. Tel.: 08 03 07 50 75.

L'Ogre de Barbarie - comes in a roundabout way from Bertold Brecht, Kurt Weill and Fritz Lang, through the agency of the Petit Théâtre, and is for six year-olds and up. At the Théâtre Dunois, 108. rue du Chevaleret, Paris 13. Métro: Chevaleret. Playing from 27 to 30. December; all at 15:00. For non-resident adults of the 13th, 50 francs; kids less. Info. Tel.: 01 45 84 72 00.

Sissi et la Reine des Neiges - is two alternating dance shows; one about the sweet Sissi and the other about the horrible Snow Queen. For six year-olds and up. At the Théâtre du Jardin, in the Jardin d'Acclimatation at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16. Métro: Sablons in Neuilly. Until 31. December, plus 2 and 3. January. Each day at 15:00. Reservations recommended. Info. Tel.: 01 40 67 97 86.

Two Rudolf Nureyevs or None

Although a bit misleading, there's nothing better than to celebrate the end of this year and the beginning of next than with two ballets choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev.

'La Bayadère' is at the new Opéra Bastille and 'Don Quichotte' is at the splendid Opéra Garnier, which everybody simply calls, 'the Opéra.' The first, until Sunday, 16. January and the second, until Friday, 15. January.
Opéra Bastille and Opéra Garnier; one Info. Tel.: 08 36 69 78 68. Métros: Opéra and Bastille.

Beaux Sapins

Princess Hélène of Mecklenburg, daughter-in-law of Louis-Philippe, is supposedphoto: chicken of the year to have decorated Paris' first 'official' Christmas tree, located in the Tuileries, in 1837. But it was only after many Alsatians chose to remain French in 1870, that the tradition of the Christmas tree was widely adopted.

Rarely seen, ultra 'disco'-chicken, often flies at this time of year.

'Le Sapin et Noël' is a festive walk in the Parc Floral in the Bois de Vincennes, with its destination in the Pavillon de Noël - usually known as the Maison de la Nature.

From what I can gather, besides a lot of Christmasy items there is a Christmas Tree exhibition, which includes chimney decorations and decorations of all sorts, such as cakes and cookies in the form of trees.

The park is open daily from 9:30 to 17:00. Until Sunday, 3. January. In the Parc Floral de Paris, Route de la Pyramide. Métro: Château de Vincennes.

'Paul' Carries Your Shopping is a Ville de Paris heavy-duty shopper service available on Thursday, 31. December. The city has hired 200 shopping helpers to aid you with those really big or voluminous purchases. To reserve a 'Paul' of your own, call 08 01 06 06 06 right away. Available hours are from 8:00 to 20:00, but never on Sunday.

Don't Forget Versailles

Louis-Philippe asked Eugène Delacroix for three works to put into the historical gallery in the Musée de Versailles, and two of the paintings are now supposed to be masterpieces: 'La Bataille de Taillebourg' and the 'Entrée des Croises à Constantinople.' In addition to these, there are other Delacroix' sketches and engravings on show at the Château de Versailles, until Sunday, 17. January, from 9:00 to 17:30 except on Mondays.

Miserable Kids

No hundreds of extras, no dozens of scenes, no budget basically - just ten kids, being 'Les Miserables' - directed by Philippe Bretin and Slyvie Ferrié, with music by Francis Lai. The kids, between eight and 14, have made various other somewhat eccentric adaptations, such as 'Le Pére Noël Est un Ordure' and other classics such as the 'Addams Family.' As with the others, this is in a real theatre: the Bobino, 20. rue de la Gaité, Paris 14. Métro: Edgar Quinet or Gaité. Until Wednesday, 30. December. Info. Tel.: 01 43 27 75 75.

Rembrandt et Amsterdam in Paris

Gathered together from 18 separate collections, this Rembrandt exhibition features 51 drawings and watercolors, done of street and canal scenes in Amsterdam and the dunes near Haarlem. Most of the works are quickly done sketches and show another angle to Rembrandt; that of the on-the-scene 'reporter.'

Rembrandt et Amsterdam, at the Institut Néerlandais, 121. rue de Lille, Paris 7. Métro: Assemblée Nationale. Except Mondays, daily from 13:00 to 19:00, until 14. February.

Paris' 1998 Festive Program:

This year's Christmas program is below, and below it are the references to Metropole's own past seasonal features.

Events, Displays

Christmas Lights - Paris' Quarters:

From mid-November to January 1999:

Rue Royal - Opéra Quarter
Avenue Montaigne - from 15. November to 5. January
Champs-Elysées - from 26. November to 11. January
Avenue Vendôme - from 30. November to 5. January
Rue de la Paix - from 30. November to 5. January
Faubourg Saint-Honoré - from 1. December to 3. January

The city pays nearly five million francs for festive lights, and another 16 million-odd is put up by 140 local associations. These even have a competition. Winner of the best-decorated street this year is the full-of-restaurants rue Guisarde, Paris 6; métro: Mabillon. In all, 270 streets and boulevards are decorated, as well as 34 places or squares.

Hôtel de Ville Skating Rink - Patinoire - Eisbahn:

Place de la Hôtel de Ville: Christmas decor, with two merry-go-rounds at either end of ice-skating rink. No charge. Ice-skate rentals. Until 7. March 1999. Open from 9:00 to 22:00 daily.

Giant Ferris Wheel - Grande Roue - Riesenrad:

Place de la Concorde, Tuileries side. Panoramic view from the top. From 19. December until 3. January. Daily from 10:30 until 19:30.

Merry-go-rounds - Les Maneges de Noël - Karussel:

Two at the Hôtel de Ville, from 19. December to 3. January; daily from 10:30 to 19:30. No charge. 18 others are in various locations around Paris.

Christmas Windows - Vitrines de Noël - Schaufenstern:

Bon Marché, Rive Gauche, 'Peau d'Ane;' at Galeries Lafayette, 'Le Ciel de Noël de Christian Lacroix;' La Samaritaine, 'Le Chocolat dans tous ses Eclats' and at Printemps, 'Basile, Jouet 'Fetische.'' From November to January 1999.

Christmas Mangers - Crèches - Krippen:

Noêl aux 5 Continents:

From the four corners of the world, 120 crèches representing voyages full of fantasy. At the Forum des Halles, 1 and 3, Grand Balcon, level -1. From 10:00 to 19:30 daily. Open from 28. November to 2. January.

Crèches, continued:

La Crèche du Vieux Paris:

Find yourself in the Christmas of medieval Paris as if it were 1491. Notre Dame is finally finished, shops and houses on the bridges; apothecaries, barrel makers -with more than 400 actors, some of them robots, in period costumes to animate this replica of another time. With narration by Jean-Pierre Coffe. In a heated circus tent at the place du Palais-Royal; daily from 10:00 to 20:00. Starts Friday 4. December and continues until 4. January. Reservations possible: Info. Tel.: 01 40 21 40 21.

La Crèche de Notre-Dame de Paris:

Inside a big tent, errected on the place in front of the church; entry from the church side. Daily from 10:00 to 19:30; on Tuesdays until 22:30. Daily from 5. December to 3. January. Entry charge: 35 francs; under 12 years, 25 francs.

Last Christmas Concert:

Concertsolo - by the Choir of the Russian Patriarch. 'Un Noël à Moscou' features ancient orthodox chants, liturgical choir and traditional Russian chants. Direction by Anatoly Grindenko. At the Saint-Louis-en-L'Ile church, 19 bis, rue Saint-Louis-en-L'Ile, Paris 4. On Friday, 1. January at 17:00 and on 28. and 31. December at 20:45.

Museums Put On Noël for Kids - various sorts of seasonal exhibitions or activities for little people are available at the following museums. Some of these events are for families and some are for the kids only. Entry fees vary.

Musée Cernuschi - on 29 and 30. December, at 14:30. For six year-olds and up. Reservations, Info. Tel.: 01 45 63 50 75.

Musée du Petit Palais - on Tuesday, 29. December, at 14:30. For four year-olds and up. Reservations, Info. Tel.: 01 42 65 12 73.

Musée Galliéra - on 29 and 30. December at 14:00. For eight year-olds and up.Reservations, Info. Tel.: 01 47 20 85 23.

Maison de Victor Hugo - on 29 and 30. December; for six year-olds and up. Reservations, Info. Tel.: 01 42 72 10 16.

Musée Carnavalet - various ateliers and exhibitions, for various ages; on 29 and 30. December, at 14:30. Reservations, Info. Tel.: 01 42 72 21 13.

Paris' Musée d'Art Moderne - for 6 to 12 year-olds, on 29 and 30. December, at 14:30. Reservations, Info. Tel.: 01 53 67 40 80.

Metropole's Christmas Past in Paris:

Past Christmas' Season Features in Metropole at a Glance:

Anno 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.49 - 8. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.50 - 15. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.51 - 22. December 1997:

Metropole Issue 2.52 - 29. December 1997:

Anno 1996:

Metropole Issue 1.43 - 16. December 1996

  • Features: 'Shopping' on the Rue Saint Honoré,' 'Standing Around Waiting for Food' and 'Best Christmas Window Contest.'

Metropole Issue 1.44 - 23. December 1996

  • Feature: 'The Eating Season'

Metropole Issue 1.45 - 30. December 1996

  • Feature: 'New Year's in Paris'
The Last Word This Year

Those of you still looking for other New Year's ideas will have to check out the past year's URLs above. Otherwise, I expect it will be pretty much the same as always. The same old cabaret, Champagne, caviar and foie gras; plus the usual all night dancing and other forms of wretched excess.

If you are arriving in Paris this week, I suggest getting copies of the magazines 'Pariscope' or the 'Officiel des Spectacles,' which hit the kiosks on Wednesdays. These general guides contain a lot of names and addresses. For better - and funkier - information, get 'Nova;' if they've put out their January, or New Year's issue. Get all three for 16 francs. 'Pariscope's Spécial Fêtes' number only contains listings for the places that have advertised in this special issue.

New Year's comes year after year, but we never tire of it and look forward to it from the end of the summer holidays until now. Some of us do. Especially this year - going into the big last one, before the big new 'Deux Mille' starts. Maybe it'll be New Year's all year. Maybe even two all-year New Years' in a row. Get some good, strong shoes.

However it works out for you, Happy New Year to all!

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