Secrets of Paris Newsletter #66: January 31, 2006

IN THIS ISSUE:

* From the Editor
* Museum Re-Openings
* Museum Pass
* More Museum News
* Dead Website
* Big Changes at Place d'Italie
* China in Paris
* Practical: Taking the Train?
* Too Cheap to Take the OrlyBus?
* Paris-Paris Nightlife
* Drinking and Dining: But Mostly Drinking
* More Drinking and Dining: (Slightly More) Affordable Haute Cuisine
* Rockin' in France
* Shopping: A Different Kind of Gallery

* From the Editor *

Happy Chinese New Year! My two pooches celebrated the Year of the Dog with another harrowing trip to the vet to get their teeth laser-cleaned (Pedro’s breath, in particular, was getting unbearable) and, for Little Lena, the removal of some suspicious bumps. They turned out to be harmless cysts, but for a week she gets to look all punk with her scattering of surgical staples (the “cloutée” look is in this season, of course). January is pretty much gone, but the sales are still going strong, fashion week is over and the Salon de la Lingerie is just getting started (tune in next issue for a behind-the-scenes peek and what you’ll be wearing under your spring frocks). And yes, I know I promised the new website would be done, but alas, all good things take time. February is looking pretty mellow on the work front (what, nobody wants a tour of Paris in freezing weather? Sheesh…) so, fingers crossed, some great things will be happening soon. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the updated calendar of events.  A bientôt! - Heather

* Museum Re-Openings *
After many years of renovations, the Petit Palais Municipal Fine Arts Museum (M° Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau ; http://www.paris.fr/portail/Culture/Portal.lut?page_id=6228) reopened in December 2005, and next up is the Municipal Museum of Modern Art (in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo, 11 Avenue du Président Wilson, M° Iéna or Alma-Marceau), scheduled to re-open February 2 with exhibitions on Pierre Bonnard and Pierre Huyghe. www.mam.paris.fr The permanent collections of all Parisian municipal museums are open free to the public; only temporary exhibitions have an entry fee.

* Museum Pass *

Starting March 1, the old Carte Musées-Monuments will be renamed “Paris Museum Pass”. Convenient, eh? They’re handy if you plan on seeing a *lot* of museums and don’t want to wait in line. The new format will supposedly change in duration (at the moment there are 1-day, 3-day, and 5-day passes) and price (€18, €36, and €54, respectively). To be continued…

* More Museum News *

The Musée de l’Erotisme (72 blvd de Clichy, 18th, M° Blanche) has a new exhibition of Roger-Viollet photographs from February through June, and if you go to their website you can even print yourself off a discount coupon for €2 off the admission of €8. Open daily, 10am-2am. The Picasso Museum (5 Rue de Thorigny, 3rd, M° Chemin Vert or St-Paul) is currently “between exhibitions” and apparently making a big mess of moving things around, so until February 15 visitors have access to select sections of the permanent collection for just €2.

* Dead Website *

There’s nothing worse than following information on a website that *seems* up to date, only to find that it hasn’t actually been updated for several years. Take the old website of the Official French Tourism Office. You’d have to be pretty sharp to realize it hasn’t been updated in almost three years (the old tourism office on the Champs-Elysées is still listed, for example). The new site, BTW, is http://www.franceguide.com (aka Maison de la France). I’m *always* picking on the French tourism officials, so could someone else tell them how to get the old site off before someone gets lost?

* Big Changes at Place d’Italie *

In the ongoing saga of excitement happening outside my window, the Place d’Italie is being ripped up in order to connect four of the little “islands” of greenery, thus making it easier to get to the other side of the big intersection without having to cross more than two streets (if you’ve ever come out of the metro at the wrong end of Place d’Italie, you know what I’m talking about). There are, I’ve discovered, apparently no laws against jack-hammering at 7:30am in Paris (vive les provinces!) On a more sad note, when I came back from vacation in January, I noticed the façade of the “Italie 2” shopping mall seemed to be missing something…the big illuminated poster advertising the latest film at the Grand Ecran is no longer there because the cinema with the largest screen in Paris is now closed for good. There was just too much competition from neighboring cinemas and the new MK2 Bibliothèque. Replacing the cinema will be a Habitat and H&M boutique.

* China in Paris *

Check out the calendar for info on the Chinatown New Year’s Parade taking place this weekend. But if you don’t make it, why not check out the slick new Shanghai Tang boutique and restaurant? If you’ve been following the growing popularity of this high-fashion brand from China, you won’t be surprised to hear it’s not in Chinatown at all, but in the trendy Place St-Sulpice, right across from the church, sharing space with the Maison de la Chine, so you can dine, shop for a new top, or book a flight to Beijing all in one place. www.shanghaitang.com

* Practical: Taking the Train? *

French trains aren’t bad, but it sure can be a pain hauling luggage on and off, assuming you can even find a place for your three valises, duffel bag, dog crate and laptop. Those in the know use the little-known luggage delivery service offered by the SNCF for a small per baggage fee of €25 for the first suitcase and 11€ each for the rest. You just call them up (dial 36 35 from any landline and then press 41), and they pick up your bags chez vous, delivering them to your hotel room in Monaco within 24-hours. Now if I can only get them to feed and walk the dogs before they arrive….

* Too Cheap to Take the OrlyBus? *

Need to get to or from Orly Airport and just can’t bear to part with a fiver for the bus from M° Denfert-Rochereau? Then just take the RATP city bus #183 (until 8pm) or 285 (until about 12:45am) from Orly Sud to the end of Metro Line 7 (Porte de Choisy or Villejuif-Louis Aragon, respectively). All for the price of a regular bus ticket and then a metro ticket (€1.40 each), €10.70 for a carnet of ten tickets. 

* Paris-Paris Nightlife *

Last week I went out Happy-Hour hopping with the ladies. After some very strong Metropolitans at the lovely George V Bar and Cosmopolitans at the somewhat ho-hum La Suite (the décor and the crowd, unfortunately) we ended up at Paris-Paris (5 Ave de l’Opéra, 1st, M° Palais-Royal), a former cabaret that’s now the preferred nightspot for the city’s pretty young things. And in case you hadn’t noticed it anywhere else, the 80s are definitely back, and most of the clientele there weren’t even old enough to remember them the first time! There’s no cover and the drinks are pretty cheap for this part of town, but you’ll have to get past the doormen to find out for yourself. 

If you’re interested in finding all of the best soirées and your French is up to snuff, then check out the site VodkaCoca.com, written “just for fun” (ie for free) by the dandy Prince of Parisian nightlife, Otto VodkaCoca (not his real name, BTW).Each day he updates his dusk-till-dawn party schedule, along with opinions on which soirées are worth missing and which are “musts”. 

Fashionista wannabe’s can also check out the nightlife, arts and fashion blog, “A Shaded View on Fashion” by the mysterious Diane Pernet. I first saw Diane, in her signature black beehive and sunglasses, about six years ago in the ELLE.com offices. I saw her again this weekend at the Palais de Tokyo’s going away party for Jerome and Nicolas (the curators for the past eight years). I still can’t tell how old she is...or how she keeps her hair from falling over. If only we could all be so mystifying. A little note on that evening: there were several DJs and live bands, but the set by DJ Boust and Monsieur Moreau (half of the Kolkoz artistic duo on exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo; www.kolkoz.org) blew everyone away. Somehow they managed to successfully mix Serge Gainsbourg, AC/DC, a rockin’ version of the Charleston, Rage Against the Machine, and the Jackson Five without skipping a beat. You can catch them live at Paris-Paris and Le Baron.

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