***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #36: May 21, 2003***


IN THIS ISSUE:

* From the Home Office
* Festival on the Canal St-Martin
* Meet the Artists of Belleville
* Carnival in the 20th
* Acting Master Classes
* Dancing in Paris
* New French Budget Airline
* Fête de la Musique
* International Rose Competition
* Last Minute Hotel Deals
* Free concerts at the Musée National du Moyen Age
* Batofar’s Summer Terrace
* Misguided Phrases
* House for Rent on the Riviera

* From the Home Office *

Things are a bit hectic around here this month. We’re trying to finish remodeling the house and garden for the summer, since we’ll be renting it out while we’re up in Paris. Between painting, mulching, and re-grouting the bath, I’ve been working on my guidebook, talking with tour guides, going through my piles of restaurant notes gathered over the past year, and trying to keep up with all of the summer festival plans. I’m still writing the France from the Inside column at Suite101.com, doing the monthly Paris guide for easyJet in-flight magazine, visiting hotels to review for Expedia.com, and finishing an article for France Magazine. My article on Cannes Film Festival was published this month in ELLE’s Hong Kong edition. I was just down there last night (Cannes, not Hong Kong) to hear a French-Arab singer perform on the Carlton Hotel beach. As usual there are tons of billboards promoting new films. I overheard two French journalists commenting on the unfortunate title of the new Terminator film, “T3”. In French, the pronunciation of T3 sounds like “tais-toi”, which means “shut up”. We’ll see how it does at the box office here. ;) -H

* Festival on the Canal St-Martin *

This weekend (May 24-25) is the Printemps des Rues, a free festival of open-air concerts, dancing, circus performances, films and artisan stands with over 200 artists along the Canal St-Martin in the 10th arrondissement. It starts Saturday evening at 7pm, and at sunset the Canal itself with be lit up. Sunday starts off at noon with a picnic along the Canal and then the festival gets into full swing through midnight. It takes place on the Canal at Quai de Valmy, Quai de Jemmapes, Square Villemin (food tent is here), Espace Jemmapes, Point P, and Place Follereau. The French website has more detailed info: www.leprintempsdesrues.com

* Meet the Artists of Belleville *

Over 250 artists in the Belleville Quarter are opening their studio doors to the public for the annual “Ateliers d'Artistes de Belleville” from May 23-26. Discover the painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists in their studios hidden throughout the working-class neighborhood of Belleville, as well as the bistros and shops which have come together to promote the artists. The starting point is at the AAB Gallery (32 rue de la Mare, 20th), where you can pick up a detailed map of the open studios. For more info, call 01 46 36 44 09 or check out their French website: www.ateliers-artistes-belleville.org

* Carnival in the 20th *

Or Carnaval, to be correct. Join the festivities Sunday May 25th at 2pm. It starts with a Brazilian percussion session at the Place Gambetta, then a colorful parade at 2:30pm ending at the Square Sorbier at 4:30pm. This is part of a month-long calendar of events to celebrate the 20th arrondissement. For more info stop by the Mairie (Town Hall) at Place Gambetta.

* Acting Master Classes *

One World Actors Productions, an English Theatre group in Paris, has regular acting master classes in French and English for those aspiring to greatness on the stage or on film. The next one takes place June 10-14 with Hollywood coach Larry Moss, who has trained Hilary Swank, Jim Carrey and Helen Hunt. Fans of live theatre can also check out the performances every Monday at 8:15pm (last Monday of the Month in French) at the Espace Cardin (1, Ave Gabriel, 8th), tickets €15. For more info on classes or current theatre program, see their website: www.oneworldactors.com

* Dancing in Paris *

For fans of flamenco dancing, check out A Palo Seco (http://www.apaloseco.com/) (in French or Spanish), for info on flamenco concerts, classes and the latest flamenco releases. Salsa Web (http://cityguides.salsaweb.com/france/paris/e/index.html) has a city guide to Paris that’s not up to date in the events section, but useful for its listings of salsa dance clubs and schools in Paris. The Centre de Dance du Marais teaches all types of dancing from tap and hip-hop to ballroom dancing and Afro-Cuban dance. They’re having a festival June 7-8 to show off the talents of their pros (tickets €17). For more info check out their bilingual website: www.parisdanse.com

* New French Budget Airline *

After the demise of Air Liberté, the latest French budget airline is Aéris, with flights between many French cities, as well as service to southern Spain, Greece, and north African cities. Check out their website at www.aeris.fr(French only), and for more info on budget airlines operating within France and its smaller towns, see my recent article at www.Suite101.com

* Fête de la Musique *

Just one month until the annual Fête de la Musique, an all-night free musical festival that takes place throughout France’s cities, where musicians of all styles play in bars, concert halls, public squares, cafés, and in the streets. In many areas of Paris the streets are closed to traffic, so don’t plan on driving through town (or getting any sleep) until the festivities are over the next morning. Find the official program here: www.fetedelamusique.culture.fror simply look for the posters all over the city a week in advance. You can’t miss it!

* International Rose Competition *

From June 19th until July 3rd, visitors to the Parc de Bagatelle (in the Bois de Boulogne) will have the chance to see the contestants in the 96th annual International Rose Competition, where over 9000 roses compete for top honours. There’s a small admission fee to the Parc de Bagatelle itself (which is worth visiting in its entirety, since it was inspired by the paintings of Monet), but the Rose Competition is free, and visitors get to vote for their favourites. Take the metro to Pont-de-Neuilly, then bus 43, or metro stop Porte Maillot then bus 244. For more info call 01 40 67 97 00.

* Last Minute Hotel Deals *

This is the time of year when Paris starts to fill up with the summer tourists (which are still coming, because even though some Americans are afraid to travel, there are certainly a lot more travelers out there to fill the vacuum). It’s a lot harder to find room in hotels if the rates are good, so be sure to book as early as possible if you’re planning to come in June or July. Mr. Heather had to find a hotel room in Paris with one day’s notice, preferably under €50 (this was last week), and we found this great site, RatesTo Go.com. You put in the dates (up to two weeks in advance) and city, and can even specify the neighborhood or suburb, and you get a listing of hotels with rooms available, with the full rate and the discounted rate highlighted. Some are almost 70% off the rack rate, with the best deals in the hotels that advertise doubles for over €400 (they were down to about €150 the days I checked). The best part is that you get a good review, very detailed, with map and directions to nearest transportation, and you can leave your own rating as well. A site worth bookmarking!

* Free concerts at the Musée National du Moyen Age *

Every Friday at 12:30pm and Saturday at 4pm the Ultreia Ensemble will be performing Medieval music concerts at the Musée National du Moyen Age (Nation Museum of the Middle Ages). The hour-long concerts are free with entry to the museum (€5.50), which is in the beautiful 15th-century Hôtel de Cluny, featuring the Unicorn Tapestries and the well-preserved remains of Gallo-Roman baths from the 2nd century. The newly-constructed Medieval Gardens outside the museum are completely free and open to the public daily, perfect spot for a picnic. Metro Cluny-La Sorbonne, in the 5th. www.musee-moyenage.fr (French only)

* Batofar’s Summer Terrace *

The Batofar’s musical management may have changed, but the venue lives on! Check out the big red floating lighthouse club for the weekend “Apéros Electro” at the foot of the boat on the quay. From 7pm, the Terrace Bar is open, with some groovy tunes. No entry fee. Metro Bibliothèque François Mitterand or Quai de la Gare www.batofar.net

* Misguided Phrases *

Every day I get to read some very “creative” French-to-English translations (hey, at least they make an effort). This month’s top two are: Burning Cream (aka Crème Brûlée) and the phrase “Cancellation due to a disease of a guest”.

* House for Rent on the Riviera *

As you all may have figured out, we’re going to be in Paris for July and August, so we’ll be renting out the house here in Biot (a small village between Antibes and Cannes, 20 minutes from Nice airport). Rates go from €2000/week to €5000 month. If anyone is interested, have a look at our website: www.RivieraProvence.com
If you’re looking for a place to rent elsewhere in France, including Paris, try this American-based agency, At Home in France.

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