Ready. Steady... Go see the Festival d'Avignon in a flash! Freshly inaugurated, the TGV Mediterranée's high-speed rail service now links Paris to this celebrated July 6-28 theater fest, in just over two and a half hours. No two ways about it: This is going to be a "mobile" summer, in every sense.
Sporting "Beach Boy" shirts like those in Celio's latest publicity campaign or Bossa Nova-style bikinis, Frenchie techies will be planning their vacations online. Last year, they flaunted flashy WAP phones that gave them wireless access to the Web. This season, they're waving around palmtops with fun adjuncts: a tangy-hued, translucent case, a yellow or purple stylus...
In sync with Internet technology, Paris' public transport system has started to think of voyageurs as "nomadic cybernauts," on a logistic mission. Tourists planning an outing can consult its website (www.ratp.fr) en anglais.. For info on anything from "Noctambus" all-night buses to Disneyland passes, hit the British flag, then click on Get around Paris (Museums, Places of Interest, Walks, Shopping...), Route Finder or Airport Access.
The RATP has also devised Paristrafic, an electronic utility that targets Parisian cell phone users. The idea is that you're eating your cereal. You had plans for the day. Suddenly, a message on your mobile tells you there's been a traffic incident on your usual subway route best take a bus. Acting on this, you change your schedule... Three months subscription: 6 euros. Six months option: 10 euros.
Something's come over you? You've been fantasizing about gadgets like Siemens' Wristphone prototype a mobile that doubles as a watch? You can't keep your hands off Kodak's appareils-photo numériques , on display at your local Fnac.... Particularly, the Palm/PC/Mac-compatible PalmPix camera, which allows you to email your seaside snapshots to the other side of the planet in record time. "Don't worry. Be happy..." you've only caught the "gizmo bug."
Where to get that ultra-hip orange Handspring Visor Deluxe PDA, the digital personal assistant au courant globe-trotters absolutely "must" have to plot their next foray into foreign territory? A stone's throw from place de l'Etoile, the Palmshop (21 rue Brey, 17e, tel: 01 44 09 70 00) is Europe's leading handheld computer specialist. Last time he was in town, "Lou Reed was here," looking into GPS (Global Positioning Systems) a satellite device that tells you exactly where your are, wherever you are. This palm-sized store stocks stacks of equipment (Palm, iPaq, HP Jornada, Casio, Psion...), accessories and programs, notably travel software (MapViewer, TomTom Citymaps, Route Planner Millennium, Guide Michelin de France...).
Smart travelers connect their handheld to a desktop computer, then download info about their destination onto their mobile appliances, notably from Avantgo.com.
After the cyber café, the Roller Café. In-line skaters will make a bee-line for this groovy resto just opened on the corner of boulevard de la Bastille and rue de Lyon ( tel: 01 43 46 55 22, www.roller-cafe.com). World food. Veggie snacks. A funky, urban decor featuring graph' art. And, its own streetwear label. (7am to 2pm, daily)
Published by Dakota Editions in association with "Mobile en Ville," a support group concerned with giving the handicapped greater mobility, Paris comme sur des roulettes is a guide to skate- and wheelchair-friendly boulevards and sidewalks: 24 streetmaps peppered with entertaining, practical annotations. (49F)
Neither a painter, nor a sculptor or photographer more into showbiz graphics New York artist Ryan McGinness surfs from one visual concept to the next. He's even designed skateboards... July 2-28, chez Colette (213 rue St-Honoré, 1er, tel: 01 55 35 33 90).
Art & Motors
Opposite Maxim's, in a stately building once occupied by Madame de Staël... two adjacent locales have temporarily merged for the purposes of a thematic exhibit: till July 14, the Royal Street Gallery and Audi present a joint display focusing on art and automobiles including fashion/formula 1 photographic diptychs by Jacques Cochin (Tue-Sat 10am to 7pm, Mon 3-7pm, 6 rue Royale, 8e). At the vernissage, "An American in Paris" wearing a huge smile: Brian Brown, who's signed a distribution agreement with Universal for his first pop release: a catchy single titled "Pretty Face," on the radio from mid-July.
What would a "Summer Holiday" be without a CD to listen to "on the road"? Nene Cherry and Eagle Eye Cherry's half-sister Titiyo has brought out an album that fits the bill. It's called "Come Along." And, in the booklet she "strikes the pose" in a garage, with vintage James Dean era cars...
In the mood for a quick getaway? How about cashing in on Eurostars current Day-Trip XL promo? A Day-Trip to Cool Britannia, plus a midsummer nights clubbin. (500F)
Ever-faster TGVs and, the 35-hour working week mean that weekending in unspoilt spots, off the beaten track for instance, the countryside around Besançon, near the Swiss boarder, only 2hrs10mins from Gare de Lyon, direct suddenly seems easy. The Comité régional du tourisme de Franche-Comté's is plugging "courts séjours" (mini trips) designed to appeal to upwardly-mobile townies who enjoy traditional pursuits (sightseeing, hiking, gastronomy and winetasting), but want more action. On the agenda... Jungle treking. Canoeing. Fitness and spas. (www.franche-comte.org)
A freshly-launched bi-monthly magazine named W.E. as in week-end has picked up on this trend. The format? glossy. The tone? A savvy mix of branchés headlines and très fashion pix. The focus? Hyper-practical how-to-get-there, what-to-see features. The July/August issue's chic sojourns range from Stockholm to... Avignon.