Photo of the Week

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Bicycles in a Parisian courtyard. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Stick up for science
> The Paris March for Science begins at 1pm at the Jardin des Plantes (Place Valhubert), April 22.

Silent films from Switzerland?
> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, April 20-May 2.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, April 19-29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

Take home a winemaker
> Winemakers from Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux come to Paris to offer tastings of their products in wine bars and private homes for the event J’Irai Déguster chez Vous. Various venues, Paris, April 20-22.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Bedos’s Monsieur & Madame Adelman preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 21.

Polaroid pix
> The “Expolaroid” exhibition features Polaroid images by nine artists. La Maison des Ensembles, Paris, through April 25.

Binge-watching
> Festival Séries Mania shows TV series from around the world and holds debates, conferences and special guests like Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife,” all for free. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 23.

Travel yarns
> Travel fanatics get together at the Paris Travelers Festival to swap tales of their adventures. FIAP, Paris, April 22-23.

Street art indoors

ParisUpdate-UrbanArtFair-Felipe-Pantone-2
The gallery Art in the Game will be showing works by Felipe Pantone at the Urban Art Fair.> Some 30 galleries show street art at the Urban Art Fair. Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 20-23.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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Hot Topics - Flash News

 

Ca Se Visite

Belleville Up Close and Personal

One of Belleville's bucolic passageways.

Belleville, a neighborhood full of unexpected charms, straddles two of Paris’s double-digit (19th and 20th) arrondissements, far from the city center. It remains practically unknown to tourists, and the residents of this quartier populaire (working-class neighborhood) would probably rather keep it that way. But the secret is out. Artists began colonizing many of its former workshops some time ago, and the inevitable gentrification is following hard on their heels.

Now is a good time to visit the neighborhood, before its loses its village-like character, which a number of associations are trying hard to preserve. One of them, Ca Se Visite, offers unusual tours of the area. Since Belleville has no famous monuments to show off, and its mixed bag of architectural styles includes few major gems, the tours concentrate on people – artists, shopkeepers, craftspeople and neighborhood old-timers – while touching on the neighborhood’s history.

To create these original tours, the ebullient guide Angenic, a storyteller at heart, did intensive research, interviewing older residents and gleaning their best stories to pass on to visitors. She was also able to gain access to many of the neighborhood’s hidden courtyards and passageways – with their grape arbors
and small gardens – which outsiders might otherwise never see.

Belleville has been a neighborhood of immigrants ever since it was first attached to Paris in 1860, but it still retains its village feel, with bustling specialist food shops and a neighborly ambiance. Noting that one of the area’s colleges had students of 80 nationalities, Angenic explained that the more settled Upper Belleville was home to mostly European immigrants, who arrived in waves beginning in the early 20th century, while Lower Belleville is still receiving recent newcomers.

During the tour called “Les Cours et les Artistes de Haut-Belleville” (Upper Belleville’s Courtyards and Artists) on a freezing winter’s day, Angenic took a small group to chat with an artist who calls himself KATS in his studio/gallery, and then on to one of Belleville’s (and Paris’s) best bakeries, La Pâtisserie de l’Eglise, where the owner was waiting with cups of real hot chocolate and a warm galette des rois (a traditional almond tart for Epiphany, omnipresent in France during the month of January), which he served while telling us about his profession and his work to preserve the neighborhood's character.

In each courtyard and passageway, Angenic had a story to tell about its inhabitants, some of them amusing and others tragic. One house had been inhabited during World War II by a family with six children. When the Gestapo started taking his children’s Jewish friends away, the father hid two of them in his basement. Denounced by his neighbors, he was visited by the Gestapo, who demanded to know where the Jewish children were. When he continued to deny hiding them, they killed one of his sons. After the war, he raised the two children. All three still live in Belleville and remain close to each other.

In the Place du Guignier, Angenic showed the group where the young Maurice Chevalier, who was born in the neighborhood (as was Edith Piaf), got his start by singing while selling his grandmother’s hand-knitted socks.

The charms of Belleville’s hidden courtyards and passageways haven’t escaped the notice of a number of international stars. Among
those said to live in the area are Joan Collins, Juliette Binoche and Valerie Lemercier. And Johnny Depp was recently spotted scouting the neighborhood.

Ca se Visite offers a number of different tours – comparing Upper and Lower Belleville, for example, or looking at street art – some of them conducted by English-speaking guides.

Heidi Ellison

Ca Se Visite: 1, rue Robert Houdin, 75011 Paris. Tel.: 01 48 06 27 41. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . www.ca-se-visite.fr

KATS: 20, rue de la Villette. Tel.: 06 82 73 52 95.

Pâtisserie de l’Eglise: 10, rue du Jourdain, 75020. Tel.: 01 46 36 66 08. www.caradou.com

© 2006 Paris Update

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