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Nuit Blanche


You weren't in Paris on the first Saturday in October? You missed Nuit Blanche again.  This started in Paris under mayor Bertrand Delanoë in 2002 and spread to many other cities internationally - Brussels, Chicago, Madrid, Montreal, Rome, Tirana, Tel Aviv, São Paulo, Skopje, Toronto and Valletta. Christophe Girard, Deputy Mayor of Paris, was the one who actually dreamt up the idea of Nuit Blanche – an annual all-night cultural festival.  It's a bit surreal. Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis was there, for the real one, not one of the imitations. Here's his account.

Paris, Saturday, 5 October 2007 - We had Nuit Blanche tonight. Actually it is still night so I guess we are still having it. I should say, we are having a complete nuit blanche all night long. I am that is.
The weather was, is, good for it. Cool, not cold, not much wind. Smells carry on the air. That's good because I started in Chinatown. It is a place that smells good, makes you hungry.
There is this horrible thing called Les Olympiades that folks live in. It is so bad they put the entry on the first floor and dotted it with restaurants with pagoda roofs, and then they turned them all 45 degrees. The good part is that there are a lot of direction signs. None of them point to the new métro station. For that you have to ask.
I don't understand Nuit Blanche. It is something artistic, maybe 350 items, scattered around Paris, in the dark, because it's night. In Chinatown - this is Les Olympiades - a couple of towers were used for floor-to-ceiling projections. But the photo I'm sending has me completely confused. I do not know what it's about. I guess it is a metaphor for Nuit Blanche. It reminded me of Blade Runner, without the rain.
Take it away, nutbush! There was sound to go with the projections. It sounded like somebody discoursing about how awful it is not to have papers, not to have a place to live, how terrible it is to get deported by Sarkozy. I guess it is something that concerns the residents of Les Olympiades.
This was interrupted at 22:45 when everybody in the 750 closest apartments shouted for joy. The French team beat the mighty All Blacks in Cardiff. Folks were pretty glum today thinking about losing and getting booted out of the tournament. Now they can enjoy their Nuit Blanche. All the teenagers raced out to buy 24-packs of beer.
I finally found the métro. There was a Renault beside it full of ferns and green lights. I wondered what it meant. The métro is the line 14, all stainless and shiny marble. Looks like the Moscow subway. I rode it to St Emilion and looked around for Nuit Blanche there. I saw nine photos, one pointy-topped tent and about 2000 people eating outside. Are they crazy - it's October.
I walked back towards Bercy in the dark, lit by the street lights on the speedway beside the Seine. There was a big screen opposite the bridge. It seemed to be showing a condensed black and white version of all the spaghetti westerns ever made, with no sound. It was very arty.
Not actually part of Nuit Blanche, the foot bridge has a splendid show of lights - from boats, other bridges, the passing métros, the Batofar, the finance ministry, the world's biggest library, and a three-masted schooner. It's like one of those ships in a bottle, sitting here in Paris. Neat trick getting it in here.
The quays were all lit up as if this part of Paris is some kind of Roman platz. I don't know if they put this stuff in brochures for tourists but the local youth knows about it. There they were, standing around watching movies projected on pirate sails, drinking and dancing in the intermissions. It was like Halloween without the costumes and firecrackers. It goes on all the time on the Quai de la Gare.
Yeah, so most things go on all the time. No need to wait for Nuit Blanche to roll around every first Saturday in October. Of course, in Chinatown, I don't think that lady will be there in her open-air office with her fan. I wonder if she had already eaten. There were some wonderful smells up there. Indochinese garlic.

    - radioric

Paris - "No need to wait for Nuit Blanche to roll around every first Saturday in October. Of course, in Chinatown, I don't think that lady will be there in her open-air office with her fan."

Paris Text and Photo Copyright © 2007 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis

[Nuit Blanche]

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Alan M. Pavlik