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Wi-Fi And The Musée D’Orsay

What do Wi-Fi and the Musée d’Orsay have in common? Plenty, including Paris on a cold, gray, damp Sunday afternoon in December.

I returned from the U.S. laden with new electronic equipment designed to make my professional life more mobile with a new wireless computer, optical wireless mouse and wireless router to be less attached to the desk and more integrated with Paris. I tested it mid morning at a café a few blocks away with the Mairie de 3ème and Square du Temple looming in direct view, setting up a mini-work station with a foamy “grand café crème” at my fingertips. I was only too happy to discover that the Mairie (city hall of the 3rd arrondissement) offers free Wi-Fi service — the only Mairie in Paris offering it, so far (again I feel so lucky to be living in this arrondissement).

There is no shortage of free wireless service all over Paris. Listings of “hot spots” are easily found online at sites such as:, and So, if you’re just visiting or a resident and who doesn’t want to miss one beat of Paris street life like me, then do yourself a favor and get connected, cable-free. (Small warning: local wireless networks may have weak security against eavesdropping and even data modification.)

I’ve witnessed France catching the fever for electronic communication and all the gadgetry associated with it. The supermarket of electronics, “Surcouf,” surfaced in 1992 with what is still their largest store at 139 avenue Daumesnil in the 12th arrondissement. There are now five stores in France, their newest at 21 boulevard Haussmann. I’ve visited it twice in the past view days, and foresee another visit this afternoon to purchase an American keyboard — yes, they have them! Beware — the stores are crammed with holiday shoppers and open special hours including Sundays until Christmas.

On the completely opposite side of life in Paris — the unconnected one — I ducked into the newly renovated Musée d’Orsay out of “Gray Paree” (Paris weather that feels as if you’re in a cold wet sauna) to visit the current exhibitions everyone is raving about: “New York and Modern Art, Alfred Stieglitz and His Circle (1905-1930)” and “Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), Gift of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation” from now until January 16, 2005.

The Musée d’Orsay never ceases to intrigue me as Paris’ most beautiful museum, especially considering its beginnings as a train station, not to mention the important works it houses. The exhibit explores Alfred Stieglitz’s important role in American modern art as gallery owner, at first devoted to photography and how it became the center of European avant-garde from 1908 where he exhibited drawings by Rodin, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse. After World War I, Stieglitz indulged in his own passion of photography, his works a glimpse at “New York bursting at the seams, becoming modern and industrial, a great city.”

The second part of the exhibit is of twenty-two prints from the artist’s fund made as a gift from the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation to the museum. Stieglitz’s photos of his wife and artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, are insightful, sensual, erotic and loving. Be sure to visit both sides of the main hall, as the exhibitions are divided and directional signage is minimal.

The Musée d’Orsay has jumped on the electronic bandwagon, too, now with a permanent multimedia room, opened jointly with Hewlett-Packard, offering a dozen computers freely accessible to visitors of the museum. Visitors have access to a selection of CD-ROMs and CD-Photo portfolios, available in several languages, digital audiovisual productions and conferences of the Musée d’Orsay, as well as cultural sites on the Internet. The number of resources is regularly increasing, eventually to constitute a full-fledged multimedia library. For more information, visit

Do they offer Wi-Fi yet? No, but I doubt it will be long before they do!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Be sure to put Tuesday, December 14th at 3 p.m. on your calendar to come for a coffee (or whatever) and conversation at our monthly Parler Paris Après Midi gathering. You are invited to come share your questions and comments about what it takes to create a life here, own property and enjoy what France has to offer. It is also an opportunity to network with other Parler Paris readers. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for complete information.


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