Like a bumblebee returning to base Parisians who've been here, there and everywhere during the summer, buzz back into town. Keen to gather the latest news, they cluster around the sidewalk terraces on the capital's tree-lined avenues...
In one of his most popular songs, Yves Montand captured the atmosphere of those "Grands Boulevards"... Fans of this charismatic actor/chansonnier, will hone in on "Paris chante" (Paris sings) a free thematic expo of photographs, posters and memorabilia with a "Montand connection," at the Hôtel de Ville or city hall on rue de Rivoli, until October 30. (Daily except national holidays, Mon-Sat 9:30 am to 7pm, Sun 10am to 7pm)
Back to the asphalt jungle.... No more barefootin' on the beach! To traipse down the boulevards, this fall fashion editors are adamant you'll require "boots made for walkin'," or heavy-duty urban sneakers. A tough prospect, when you're used to sandals! But, the "good news" is that GEOX an Italian shoemaker who's just opened an outlet here has la soluzione... Revolutionary footwear, with a thermoregulated sole that "breathes." (73 rue de Rennes, 6e)
Back-to-school... For France's new wave of belly button-flaunting, bell-bottomed pre-teen lolitas hooked on TV talent shows à la "Star Academy," this spells "urgent business." Far more important than "shopping" as in unearthing the right satchel or backpack "le shopping" is absolutely vital... Every weekend, hordes of avid schoolgirls aged 10 or 12 swarm into clothing stores meant to target the 15-25 age group, in search of X-tra small, extra-cheap get-ups. According to the Pimkie boutique chain, this season's to-die-for accessory is an update of the "Gavroche" cap, named after the celebrated urchin in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.
Playground attitude has "no limits" It's even hit lunch boxes! On field trips, the "must-have" is a sports flask not unlike those Tour de France cyclists drink out of. Sigg's coveted "Original Swiss Bottle" comes in several versions, ranging from a Winnie the pooh kiddies model (14.70E) to slicker, metallic-hued options with nightclubbin' appeal.
For the art world with the Venice Biennial and Paris' FIAC contemporary art fair in perspective it's back-to-business. What's new? Just off the boulevard St-Germain, at 19 rue des Saints Pères (tel: 01 55 04 89 10), a locale dubbed "St Père" plugs into the rentrée on September 9, with a retrospective dedicated to Tom Dixon, the Brit design icon who's now Habitat's Creative Director.
Also freshly-launched... A stone's throw from place de la République, on a street corner by the Canal St-Martin ideal for in-line skating in fine weather... as it's a "no cars" zone (Tue-Fri 12:30-6:30pm, Sat & Sun 1-7:30pm) a space called Jungle Art has scheduled two events this month. First, (Sept 3-15)... "Night Scene" a show of minimalistic after-dark photographic streetscapes by William Beaucardet. Next, (Sept 17-30)... "Feel Red," introducing Astrid Stöfhas a young German artist who works at the crossroads of digital photography and abstract painting. (3 rue Eugène Varlin, 10e, M° Château Landon, tel: 01 40 37 60 97)
The leitmotiv of the moment? Bees. And, ladybirds. They're everywhere... Exhibiting at the Court Circuit young creative talent fair whose Fall 2002 edition takes place at the Espace des Blancs Manteaux (Sept 27, 3-9pm/Sept 28 & 29, 10am to 9pm, 48 rue Vieille du Temple, 4e, M° Hôtel de Ville) West Indian-born Quentin Le Martien has a "bee in his bonnet" about recycling used objects and giving them a new lease of "everyday life." He's designed a series of "cactus lamps," with various insects humming around them. Notably, honeybees and ladybugs.
Meanwhile, party-givers with a sweet tooth and an eye for fun centerpieces will make a beeline for the nearest branch of the La Romainville bakery. Its pastry chefs have cooked up a couple of quirky sponge cakes. Respectively, shaped like guess what? A scrumptious bee. And, a tempting ladybird. Both available on order, for 10-12 people. ("Azur"line: 0 810 810 885)
So much for bees... What about the birds and bees? The spanking-new Oh! Bar a slick terrace/restaurant on avenue de Friedland, soon to have a downstairs disco was the venue of a saucy lingerie presentation, with a curiously "academic" twist. To promote its "Libertine" line featuring bras with an innovative magnetic fastening system, the Bolero brand called upon Georges Chetochine, a consumer behavior consultant, who lectured a bemused audience, on his findings regarding the apprehensions of fumbling Gallic lovers about to undo" their spouse or fiancé's brassieres... Kinky!
Before taking off for Ibiza... The "in crowd" thronged to two exhilarating parties. One on boulevard Haussmann, thrown by the Bubbles champagne bar/restaurant to "kick off" its "Bubbly" free entry DJ soirées, to be held every Thursday from 9pm to 2am, (6 rue Edouard VII, 9e, tel: 01 47 42 77 95). The other, in honor of top model and football champ's wife Adriana Karembeu, now the "proud owner" of the Deli's cafés springing up all over town. She was on hand to inaugurate the most recent next to Planet Hollywood, on the Champs-Elysées.
Hoping for an Indian summer? Looking for an outdoor cultural activity, within easy reach of the city to prolong that "holiday high"? A Lancia-sponsored Open-Air Opera Festival has "just the ticket." Performances of "Don Giovanni" at the Château de Vaux le Vicomte, in the Seine-et-Marne region whose riverside guinguettes inspired impressionism's "Open-Air" painters.(Sept 12-15, 150E/60E/50E/40E, box office: 0 882 701 122)