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FETE DE LA MUSIQUE IN LE MARAIS : A NEVER ENDING SUCCESS 
Every year I look forward to the longest day of the year, June 21st. Not just because it casts a glorious light until as late as 10 p.m., but because this is when all of France comes out to celebrate music and everything related to it.

The festival, known as "Fête de la Musique," has grown considerably since its beginnings 27 years ago, when Maurice Fleuret became Directeur de la Musique et de la Danse in October 1981. At the request of Jack Lang to have "la musique partout et le concert nulle part" ("music everywhere and the concert anywhere"), together they studied the cultural habits of the French and found that five million people, one out of two being young, play some sort of musical instrument and dreamed of bringing everyone to the streets to play and celebrate.

So, here we are, taking to the streets, old and young alike, to listen to, play or sing for, all those who appreciate the art and pleasure of music, not to mention a (huge) bit of merriment. On the evening of "La Fête," I usually stick to Le Marais, since there's always so much going on in the district, not that others are lacking in any way. This year the weather was superb -- warm and breezy. Years past haven't been so perfect.

Arriving early afforded the luck to score a front-row table at "Pitchi Poi" ("Jewish Cuisine from Russia, Poland, Central Europe, from here and Elsewhere") at the Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine...a tiny square named after a convent which had been destroyed in the year 1783). Here there is always a tent and a variety of bands and acts that play there over the course of the evening. During dinner, we were serenaded and amused, by the scene, if not by the quality of our food (not Paris' finest). We collided into lots of people we knew, even in this tiny corner of the city.

Leaving the Place, we came upon a band and singer of teens no more than 15 years-old playing in front of the fountain at Impasse de la Poissonnerie (located at 2, rue Jarente, it dates back to 1783 and used to be an open street, part of the system of streets supplying Marché Sainte-Catherine and associated with the fish vendors of the market, hence the reason for the detail of the fountain façade that includes fish!). We recognized them as the even younger kids that played nearby a few years ago...growing into their musical maturity!

Around the corner at the Place des Vosges, there were almost a dozen groups doing sing-along songs in French and English, so everyone could participate. Circling the square (is that an oxymoron?), we came upon Brice Baillon leading one hundred twenty singers (I don't believe all 120 were there!) of the Gay Men's Choir, ("Le Choeur International Gai de Paris") under the arches drawing a large crowd as the group of (very handsome) men sang a round of syrupy songs over which we could all get choked up. (You couldn't help but love it! Plus, the Place des Vosges captured my heart long ago, even before life in Paris, as a youth in New Orleans spending time around Jackson Square, which was modeled after it...it just feels like home.)

It was sadly disappointing to find the doors to the garden of the Hôtel de Sully closed tight, as in years past, there was always a wonderful concert there filled to capacity with listeners lazing among the perfectly-pruned hedges. But, luck landed on us again to score a table for four at Café Hugo on the northeast corner of the square for a refreshing round of drinks, ice cream cones from a street vendor and more nearby sing-alongs.

Fully sated, we headed north toward the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement. By 10 p.m. night had fallen. The only people left at home were those who were hanging out of their windows to hear the music down below, otherwise, all of Paris was on the streets. It was also disappointing to discover that the Mairie didn't have it usual dance band in the courtyard, but instead a corps of drummers dressed in blue on the street out front, but dancers were feeling the beat, nonetheless and we were still on the prowl for music.

The best band we found was set up at the end of rue Dupetit Thouars next to the Carreau du Temple under a tent, lit with their own make-shift colored lights and drawing a big crowd. The music was a mixture of gypsy, Arabic and contemporary pop. Young girls were dancing sensuously and loving the attention. Little girls in ballerina garb were mesmerized, dancing and clapping along.

With every public event, and no matter with whom we find ourselves, we can't help but notice how beautifully behaved the French are even in the most crowded situations and what wonderful, fun-loving audiences they are. I have never known rowdiness and rarely even rudeness, nor boisterousness. It doesn't mean they aren't having fun, that's for sure...but not at the expense of others.

Another year, another Fête de la Musique, with several more this summer on the horizon to which we have to look forward. Yeah!


Published first in Parler Paris .com by Adrian Leeds


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LE MARAIS 100% FINLANDE... POUR UN FESTIVAL DE MUSIQUE CLASSIQUE HISTORIQUE 
LE FESTIVAL « LES LUMIÈRES » A PARIS DU 28 AU 29 JUIN 2008
DANS LE CADRE DU FESTIVAL «100 % FINLANDE »
LE GRAND TOUR DE L’EUROPE DU ROI GUSTAVE III et de G. M. ARMFELT 1784



SAMEDI 28 JUIN
à 13 h. Ouverture et défilé historique
Lieu : Quartier Marais et Musée Carnavalet
Musiciens et habitants de Helsinki revêtus de costumes d’époque
à 15 h Salon finlandais de l’époque du roi Gustave III.
Lieu : Musée Carnavalet
Concert de musique interfolié d'extraits du journal de voyage de Gustave Mauritz Armfelt, donné par Meri Siirala, soprano, Charles Barbier, ténor, Mikael Helasvuo, flûte baroque, Tuija Hakkila et Marja Rumpunen, forte-piano, Aapo Häkkinen, clavecin, Ebehard Maldfeld, contrebasse. Quatuor Rantatie-kvartetti : Kreeta-Maria Kentala et Tiina Aho-Erola, violon, Jouko Mansnerus, alto, Lea Pekkala, violoncelle, et Timo Torikka et Joachim Wigelius, acteurs.

Le programme présente des œuvres de musique de chambre de Tulindberg et Wikmansson, des airs du XVIIIe siècle chantés en suédois, en français et en italien et des pièces pour clavecin trouvées dans le livre des notes de Mlle Ulrika Elisabet Taube, un cadeau qu’on lui avait fait le 29 décembre 1767.

Le concert sera suivi d’un spectacle de danse conçu par M. Jere Jäppinen, chercheur auprès du Musée de la Ville de Helsinki. Le Musée de la Ville d’Helsinki et Seurasaaren kansantanssijat (Danseurs folkloriques de Seurasaari) présentent des danses, qui étaient à la mode en Finlande au XVIIIe siècle. Les danses, comme la polska, le menuet, l’anglaise et le quadrille, sont interprétées aussi bien à la manière des aristocrates qu’à celle des paysans. La chorégraphe Varpu Heinonen a composé les danses et préparé les danseurs.
Entrée 15/10€

DIMANCHE 29 JUIN
à 15 h Joseph Martin Kraus et « Sturm und Drang »
Lieu : musée Carnavalet.
Concert de musique de chambre de Joseph Martin Kraus interfolié d'extraits en français de ses lettres et écrits sur la musique donné par Mikael Helasvuo, flûte baroque, Tuija Hakkila et Marja Rumpunen, forte-piano, Maria Lindal, violon. Rantatie-kvartetti : Kreeta-Maria Kentala et Tiina Aho-Erola, violon, Jouko Mansnerus, alto, Lea Pekkala, violoncelle et Timo Torikka, acteur.
Entrée 15/10 €



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LA FINLANDE CHANTE ET DANSE PLACE DES VOSGES DANS LE MARAIS ! 



Le menuet et le tango, les éxtrémités de la danse folklorique finlandaise :

Un groupe de danseurs folkloriques finlandais présentera un spectacle de danse,
d'une durée de 30 minutes, au Square Louis XIII, à la Place des Vosges,
vendredi le 27 juin 2008 à 13h00. Le programme révèle la diversité des
traditions de la Finlande. un pays où le menuet, adopté de la France au 18ème
siècle, est toujours dansé, accompagné par d'autres danses populaires comme la
polska, le schottisch et le tango, qui est devenu la danse la plus aimée par
les finlandais au 20ème siècle.

Le groupe Seurasaaren kansantanssijat travaille depuis 1970 pour révitaliser
les danses traditionnelles de la Finlande. Leur ambition est les rendre les
plus attractives que possible à un public contemporain. Leurs présentations,
pleines de joie et d'élan, ont toujours été très appréciées par les spéctateurs
internationaux. À Paris, le programme sera animé en français.

Le groupe restera à Paris du 26 juin au 29 juin 2008 pour participer au
festival "100 % Finlande". Le 28 juin ils danseront en costume des danses du
18ème siècle au festival finlandais "Les Lumières" qui aura lieu au Musée
Carnavalet à 13h00 et 15h00.

Contact: M. Jere JÄPPINEN
chercheur, Musée de la ville d'Helsinki
producteur, Seurasaaren kansantanssijat
Courriel: jere.jappinen@hel.fi

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PARIS PLAGES FETE SES 5 ANS, TOUT EN BEAUTÉ ! 
Du 21 juillet au 21 août 2008, Paris Plages reprend ses marques sur le pavé parisien.
Poursuivant sa conquête vers l’Est, la manifestation développe le site du bassin de la Villette et, conforme à sa vocation depuis sa création en juillet 2002, transforme la ville et ses usages, faisant les délices des touristes comme de ceux qui ne peuvent partir en vacances.

Paris Plages aux couleurs de l’Europe.

Pour célébrer la Présidence française de l’Union Européenne débutée le 1er juillet 2008,
l’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, accompagné d’un chœur de 120 chanteurs, donnera le 21
juillet à 18h sur le parvis de l’hôtel de Ville, la Symphonie n° 9 de Beethoven. Ce grand
concert gratuit dirigé par Sian Edwards, sera l’occasion d’entendre dans son intégralité une œuvre magistrale dont L’Ode à la joie a été officialisé hymne européen il y a plus de trente ans.

Les succès de Paris Plages

Plébiscité en 2007, le site du bassin de la Villette, voit sa surface doubler. La base
nautique qui permet une initiation en toute sécurité aux sports nautiques, prend de l’ampleur. Les aires de jeux, plages de sable, terrains de boules et pistes de danse, suivent elles aussi ce mouvement ascendant.
L’offre sportive est encore diversifiée. Aux incontournables comme le bassin de
baignade, le tai-chi ou la pétanque, viennent s’ajouter cette année un parcours de mini golf dans le jardin éphémère du Parvis, un espace fitness sur la plage de sable de la voie
Georges Pompidou, des baby foot pour douze joueurs, un manège pour les tout petits, de
l’escrime, et même une initiation au « segway », ces drôles d’engins électriques à deux
roues pour se déplacer autrement. On notera également la belle programmation proposée par le festival FnacIndétendances à l’occasion de ses cinq années d’existence, ainsi que la présence renouvelée de la bibliothèque de prêt de la librairie Flammarion. Enfin, nouveauté de l’édition 2008, un pique nique géant de 3 Kms de long, sera proposé voie Georges Pompidou, le 21 juillet à partir de 19h00 pour le lancement de Paris Plages.


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ELISABETH IS TOO EXPENSIVE, COME AND SEE CARLA ! 
Londres, destination culturelle la plus onéreuse !

LONDRES, 16 mai 2008 (AFP) - Londres est la "destination culturelle" la plus onéreuse d'Europe et d'Amérique du Nord, et Varsovie la moins chère, tandis que Paris se classe septième sur dix, selon une étude publiée vendredi par la Post Office, premier bureau de change britannique.

Selon l'enquête baptisée "Le coût de la culture", un week-end culturel à Varsovie coûte moins de cent euros, si l'on se base sur les dix attractions les plus populaires, tandis qu'à Londres, il faudra débourser 387 euros.

Prague se place en deuxième position (130 euros), devant Lisbonne (137), Amsterdam (207), Rome (263) et Berlin (265).

Paris se classe septième, avec un coût de 309 euros, suivi de Barcelone (325), New York (328) et enfin Londres.Londres offre certes de nombreux musées à l'entrée gratuite, mais les spectacles et expositions sont parmi les plus onéreux au monde, souligne la Post Office, citant l'exemple du Palais de Buckingham qu'on visite pour 36 euros, tandis qu'il n'en coûte que 11 euros pour le Château de Prague ou 21 euros pour celui de Versailles.

VOUS VOYEZ, VOUS AVEZ BIEN RAISON DE PREFERER PARIS CET ÉTÉ, il y a de l'eau, du Champagne, des jolies filles, Paris Plage, et des promotions dans tous les hôtels dès le 15 juillet.


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MEET THIRZA VALLOIS AT PARIS SOIREES SUNDAY JUNE 1 

Come and enjoy an evening with Thirza Vallois when she will be presenting and signing her latest book "Aveyron, A Bridge to French Arcadia." A long-time Paris resident and an agrégée of the Sorbonne, Thirza Vallois is the acclaimed author of the highly acclaimed "Around and About Paris" series, "Romantic Paris". She has also written the Paris Entry for the Encarta Encyclopaedia and has appeared on BBC, PBS, CNN, NPR, Discovery, The Travel Channel, the French Cultural Channel, and contributes regularly on Paris and France to the international media the Financial Times, United Airlines' Hemispheres, and Condé Nast Traveller, among others.

After decades of devotion to her beloved Paris, Thirza Vallois ventured into the last and most remote corner of France. She has come back astounded by what she has discovered. At tonight's presentation she will share with you her amazing journey to the Averyon, where the cutting-edge Millau Viaduct and the ancient Roquefort cheese cohabit, where Knights Templar villages host anti-globalisation rallies, where Michelin-starred restaurants serve contemporary cuisine next to prehistoric monuments and by the old pilgrim road to Compostela. Above all, in a recent poll the Aveyron was voted by the French themselves as the number 1 area for its unbeatable quality of life.

Praise for Thirza Vallois

"Entertaining at all times, and full of erudition and historical anecdotes, she out-Baedekers Baedeker even at his best." Francophonie

"There are guides to every aspect of Paris... and then there are Thirza Vallois's extraordinary Around and About Paris. The Sunday Times

"Treat yourself to this treasure!" Booklist (The American Library Journal).

"Astonighingly informative companion." The Times Literary Supplement

This is in no way a directory for tourists (get the Time Out Paris guide for that), but with its wit, erudition and lively writing, it knocks most books on the City of Light for six." Time Out

"For in-depth coverage of the sights, sounds and smells of Paris, nothing tops Thirza Vallois' Around and About Paris books... You can wear out your feet before you get through these two volumes, but you would be so entertained you wouldn't even notice." The Paris Free Voice

"This book is not written as a travel guide but a revelation. It delves so deeply into so much of the Aveyron that it brings it to life on the page. And it is so well presented by the author that every chapter is a fascinating read and hard to put down."
France on Your Own

"I urge you to get your hands on a copy of her book!"
The Right Way to Travel

Thirza Vallois is among the worlds' experts on Paris — her three volume work Aound and About Paris place her immediately in the pantheon of contemporary Paris connaisseurati. Aveyron, A Bridge to French Arcadia is an implicit acknowledgement that if you seek to understand Paris, you must go elsewhere than Paris... If the Aveyron is too far for you to visit — do not worry. Thirza Vallois will bring you there with this latest flower of what is becoming a marvelous bouquet."

FOR DETAILS AND ADDRESS:
parissoirees@gmail.com



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S ILS N' ONT PAS D'EAU... QU'ILS BOIVENT DU CHAMPAGNE ! 
TRISTE NOUVELLE POUR BAR CE L EAU NE, Mais QUI PROFITERA SANS DOUTE AU TOURISME PARISIEN

BARCELONE (Espagne), 13 mai 2008 (AFP) -

Un premier bateau-citerne rempli d'eau potable est arrivé mardi à Barcelone pour approvisionner la capitale de la Catalogne (nord-est), en proie à une sécheresse historique qui menace 5,5 millions d'habitants de restrictions drastiques d'ici l'automne.

Cette initiative suscite l'embarras dans les milieux économiques locaux, qui craignent qu'elle ne nuise à l’ image touristique de Barcelone, à l'approche de la saison estivale.

"Si nous ne faisons rien et s'il ne pleut pas, cinq millions d'habitants de la région de Barcelone n'auront plus d'eau à boire en octobre", avait commenté sa vice-présidente, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

"L'arrivée d'un bateau chargé d'eau est l'image de l'échec absolu des administrations que ne méritent ni Barcelone ni la Catalogne", a critiqué le secrétaire général de la Confédération du Commerce de Catalogne, Miguel Angel Fraile, jugeant cette mesure "alarmiste" néfaste pour le "prestige" régional.

Le président de l'association hôtelière de Barcelone, Jordi Clos, cité par le journal La Vanguardia, a évoqué un "moindre mal", tant que des solutions durables n'auront pas été trouvées.

Des coupures d'eau en plein été, "c'est cette image que Barcelone ne pourrait supporter au plan touristique", a-t-il averti.

A PARIS, ON A DE L EAU AVEC OU SANS BULLES, PARIS PLAGE ET DU CHAMPAGNE A TOUTE HEURE... VOUS VOYEZ VOUS AVEZ BIEN RAISON DE CHOISIR PARIS CET ÉTÉ !




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I PREFER PARIS, I PREFER LE MARAIS, DO YOU? DISCOVER EYE PREFER PARIS 
Don't want to see Paris through the window of a crowded bus with a bunch of noisy tourists? Don't want to go on the Eiffel Tower or Da Vinci Code tour? Don't want to see the same Paris sites you saw last time you were here?

See the Paris that Tourists Never See
Come on an Eye Prefer Paris Tour and see Paris from the
inside on one of Richard Nahem's fun, offbeat tours.
Richard bases his tours on interesting out-of-the way places
customized to your own interests, and is dedicated to showing
you a piece of Paris you'd never see on your own. After years
of raves from friends and colleagues who loved Richard's own
private tours of “his” Paris, he decided to go public.

Discover
• A 19th century mansion with the world's largest collection of Monet's
• An artisan's atelier where jewelry is hand-made right in front of you
• The best food market in Paris, hidden in a courtyard
• A lush garden oasis on an abandoned railroad track high above the city
• The lavishly decorated domes of a mosque where you can sip Moroccan
mint tea on the patio and take a real Turkish bath
• Boutique hotels with drop dead gorgeous lobbies and hip bars
• A charming café with the most delicious desserts in Paris
• The only discount designer outlet in the Marais

Price: 175 Euros for a 3-hour tour
Come taste, feel, smell, and touch an unforgettable Paris today with an EYE PREFER PARIS tour. book online, write to r.nahem@gmail.com.

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LE MARAIS THROUGH A STRAIGHT EYE 
Le Marais Through A Straight Eye
Written by Nancy Bear, PA (Paris addict)


I suppose everyone copes with some form of addiction -- mine is voyeurism. Not the depraved sort, but the want to poke my nose into people’s lives, cultures, countries, make them mine and write about them. So, it was no fluke that propelled me to Paris recently--it was strictly need of a fix. Why Paris? That’s easy -- I get all soft and mushy for this alluring city of light and ten days of moseying along it’s winding cobblestone streets and stalwart Boulevards, ogling it’s treasures, gives me a buzz.

It was my intention to base myself in Le Marais for the entire visit, but for sake of economy, I booked a bargain Air France package in advance, which included four nights in a two star hotel in Bercy Village, a very decent and boring suburb with many cloned condos, and far from the center of the city. Two nights away from the dazzling lights of Paris was all I could bear, so I spent the next two at the three star Standard Design Hotel in the Bastille. That was a good move--nicely designed, indeed. Totally black and white, including the china in the lovely breakfast café on the top floor. Breakfast was perfect. The bread baskets were continually refilled with warm, fresh croissants. It was an easy walk to the Marais, however, I wanted a hotel in the 3e or 4e district--not easy to come by due to a Transit strike. Commuters were stranded and filled hotel rooms throughout the city. Many booked in anticipation, so for me, it was a night here, two nights there. I didn’t mind. I had never actually stayed in this area, so it was an opportunity to check it out. Two stars or three, the hotels are always clean and friendly, though the rooms are small. Sometimes breakfast is included, which is nice. Not to say I don’t enjoy the sybaritic pleasures of a luxury hotel, which leaves more to say about the hotel situation, but am saving the best for last.

One chilly November day, as I sat at an outdoor Café (a Salon de The on the Place du Marche) A revelation came my way: You don’t need to be Gay to love the Marais

That is my straight eye observation of the Marais. This neighborhood, in addition to being the center of gay/lesbian life, is also Senegal in the Marais and if you go to Rue des Rosiers (The Street of Rose Bushes), which was the heart of the Medieval Jewish quarter, (the Pletzl) you will find vestiges of the halcyon days of the Jewish ghetto. And now, there are Kosher butchers and bakers as well as a Synagogue designed by Hector Guimard, who was a leading light in the French Art Nouveau Movement. You know him; he designed the fan lighted Metro entrances.

The French have a keen appreciation of beauty created in the past as well as the present, and an innate understanding of the artistry of fashion attested to, by the ubiquitous Museums throughout the city. As Paris continues to redefine elegance, it remains the “Capitale de la Creation”, and so the Marais has it’s own panache. Once the core of high culture, it had it’s sordid period-- falling into severe disrepair following the Revolution. Revitalized in several incarnations, it retained the best from each and is now the coolest, chicest quarter in town, attracting all the young trendy designers. Same with galleries. The Picasso Museum is probably the best known of the many museums in the Marais. It’s an extraordinary collection, more than 3000 pieces, donated by the heirs to pay inheritance taxes. In addition to the broad spectrum of Picasso’s work, you will also see Picasso’s private collection of works by many of his friends, including Braque, Cezanne, Rousseau.

It is impossible not to collide with spectacular landmarks while roaming about -- spectacular by day, wickedly dazzling at night. Pont Neuf, for example -- the oldest bridge in Paris, which dates from 1607. It was a major thoroughfare with turrets for jugglers and acrobats. Legend has it that “You can’t cross Pont Neuf without meeting a monk, a whore and a white stallion”. Well, that’s what I hear. Another landmark fact that is hard to believe is that the Cathedral of Notre-Dame plunked itself in the Seine in the 10th century. And that’s the truth.

As an American, I feel compelled to address the subject of “attitude”, before it is assumed that I am blinded by love -- you know, the Parisians who claim not to understand your high school French. Well, my experience is that as my infatuation with Paris grew and I developed a bond with the city, my high-school French was not only tolerated, but appreciated. I did , however, discern “attitude” from Air France people. I guess they weren’t aware that I had become one of them. Their loss.

To return to Le Marais and the oldest and most gorgeous square in Paris, maybe the world -- the Place des Vosges. More than four hundred years ago, King Henri IV built a so-called King’s pavilion in the center of the southern side of this perfectly square plaza. On the northern side is a duplicate; the Queen’s pavilion. He ordered all thirty-five other buildings bordering the square to replicate the same design and so, to this day, the park is surrounded by slate roofed red brick buildings with white stone facades. It was known as ‘Place Royale’ and it was Napoleon who changed the name to Place des Vosges. It went back and forth again and finally in 1870, once and for all, became known as Place des Vosges. Victor Hugo of Hunchback and Miserable fame, lived at #6, which is now his own museum. My favorite café at Place des Vosges carries his name -- Hugo. What is more serene than sitting at a heated café, sipping an aperitif while listening to Vivaldi being performed by young musicians under one of the arches which support the surrounding buildings. The acoustics were surprisingly excellent, but why not? This is Paris, after all.

Walking across the fastidiously kept park -- it appears the leaves are collected as they fall, I see the fountains still carry the name of King Louis XIII who was in power when the square was completed. I’m not sure that they had mini sand pits and climbing things for children’s amusement then, but they did have a magnificent carousel to celebrate the wedding of Louis and Anne of Austria when the square was inaugurated in 1612. Seems like only yesterday. Continuing along the arcades under the arches, are shops and restaurants, cafes and galleries, even the home of Cardinal Richelieu. On the north side is the well-known Gallery Vivendi and next to that at #28, the entrance through the gateway under the Queen’s Pavilion is the hotel, Pavillon de la Reine. This is where I spent my final night in Paris. And I have saved the best, on the subject of hotels, for last.

Pavillon de la Reine represents a universal quiet elegance, a sense of authenticity. It is a place I would like to call home. There is a total of 56 rooms and suites and it appears as a very modest size mansion-not a hotel at all. The furnishings, the carpets, the flowers, to say nothing of Louis XIII style antiques, gives a sense of well being. There is not a bar, but rather a parlor where guests help themselves, making their own drinks and miraculously someone appears with nibbles. I took advantage of an available computer in a private little room on the ground floor. I was leaving in the morning, so it was time to start making the transition. The rooms and suites are all different from one another, all equally stylish. My bed was the largest and most comfortable of the trip and I had the best night’s sleep of the whole ten days.

When I awoke, it was as Alice in Wonderland--was it all a fantasy? The breakfast room was under the vaults of the cellar decorated with Dutch tapestries. There was every wonderful fresh fruit, cheeses, meats, warm baked things -- ideal last meal in Paris and at the Place des Vosges to boot. To book at le Pavillon de la Reine: http://www.parismarais.com/5-star-hotel ... -paris.htm

Nancy Bear is a long time editor and journalist who travels the world and writes about it and it’s inhabitants. She has authored hundreds of magazine articles and was the recipient of the prestigious PATA Gold Award for Journalism. She lives in New York City.



This article was first published on www.frenchsoiree.com <http://www.frenchsoiree.com>



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THE MARAIS NAPOLEONIC PRIVATE COLLECTION IN NEW ORLEANS. 
Ever wonder what was underneath Napoleon Bonaparte's fancy waistcoat?

Here's a chance to find out, as the exhibit 'Treasures of Napoleon' opens in New Orleans
Thursday, March 20, 2008
By Bruce Eggler

Napoleon Bonaparte never set foot in Louisiana, the land he sold to the United States in 1803 for $15 million, but one of his signature battlefield hats will be in New Orleans starting next month.

So will the earliest known letter in his handwriting, the ceremonial sword from his imperial coronation ceremony in 1804, his camp bed from one of his battles, his personal map of the French empire at its zenith and a monogrammed shirt and long johns he wore shortly before his death in exile in 1821 -- the death that ended a purported plot to kidnap him and bring him to New Orleans.

An exhibit of "Treasures of Napoleon" will open April 6 at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint at 400 Esplanade Ave.
Napoleon Bonaparte never set foot in Louisiana, the land he sold to the United States in 1803 for $15 million, but one of his signature battlefield hats will be in New Orleans starting next month.

So will the earliest known letter in his handwriting, the ceremonial sword from his imperial coronation ceremony in 1804, his camp bed from one of his battles, his personal map of the French empire at its zenith and a monogrammed shirt and long johns he wore shortly before his death in exile in 1821 -- the death that ended a purported plot to kidnap him and bring him to New Orleans.

An exhibit of "Treasures of Napoleon" will open April 6 at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint at 400 Esplanade Ave.
The show, which began a U.S. tour in 2005 at the National Geographic Museum in Washington and has been seen by 125,000 people, will be on view here through Aug. 3. It is presented by the Russell Etling Co.

The exhibit comprises items assembled by collector and Napoleon authority Pierre-Jean Chalencon, including some that have never before been seen by the general public.

Besides personal belongings of Napoleon, the show features depictions of him by some of the greatest artists of his time.

Designed to let visitors see beyond the legend and gain an understanding of Napoleon as a man, it offers user-friendly interpretive text and more than 250 objects, paintings, prints and documents, as well as furniture from imperial palaces.

There are paintings, sketches and sculptures by artists such as Jacques-Louis David, Antoine-Jean Gros, Antonio Canova, Jean-Antoine Houdon and many others, plus silver, porcelain, textiles, furniture and jewelry created during Napoleon's reign, including a 12-foot-high bed belonging to Napoleon's brother Jerome Bonaparte, king of Westphalia.

"The pieces in the exhibition have been selected not only for their great beauty and rarity, but also because they allow us to see into the heart of this extraordinary man," said Chalencon, who lives in Paris, where he lectures, organizes exhibitions and continues to collect Napoleon-related artifacts. He will be in New Orleans for the show's opening.

"Napoleon is one of the most charismatic figures of all time," Louisiana State Museum Director David Kahn said. "He leaps out of the pages of the history books as visitors get to see so many of his personal belongings." Two centuries after his ill-starred reign as French emperor, Napoleon remains a figure of great interest to New Orleanians. Reminders of him can be found throughout the area, from a Carnival parade, a popular French Quarter bar and a death mask in the state museum's permanent collection to major avenues in Orleans and Jefferson parishes and a series of Uptown streets commemorating some of his military victories.

In 2003, to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's sale of the vast Louisiana Territory to the United States, the New Orleans Museum of Art presented "Jefferson's America and Napoleon's France," probably the most ambitious locally organized show in the museum's history.

That exhibit compared the two nations involved in the Louisiana Purchase, with, for example, President Thomas Jefferson's austere, straight-backed leather chair standing beside Napoleon's ornate, gilded throne.

The show coming to the Old Mint focuses only on Napoleon, but it has a local connection: the valise that brought the signed Louisiana Purchase documents to the French ruler from America.

"Treasures of Napoleon" is one of a series of traveling exhibitions that the state museum is presenting at the Old U.S. Mint, which reopened in late 2007 after extensive post-Katrina renovations.

The first show, "Gold," an American Museum of Natural History exhibition featuring hundreds of gold nuggets, ingots, coins, pieces of jewelry and other objects, drew 15,000 visitors during a 10-week run.

"Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African-American Portraits," an exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture, opened at the Mint last weekend and will run through June 1. It consists of 100 photographs from the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery that span more than 150 years of U.S. history.

The Louisiana Museum Foundation will hold a preview party for the Napoleon show the evening of April 5. Tickets are $250, or $200 for foundation members.

The show will open to the public the next day. It will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission will be $6 for adults and $5 for students, senior citizens and active military personnel, with museum members and children younger than 12 admitted free.

The museum plans a series of public programs, lectures and other educational opportunities in connection with the show.

More information is available at www.napoleonexhibit.com or at the museum's Web site, http://lsm.crt.state.la.us.



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