After the traditional gold and pioneer club member meeting in Biel and Zurich from 21 to 23-JUN-2000, swatch the club had organized an event open to all club members on the weekend of 23 to 25-JUN in Paris, France. About 140 collectors from all over the world came to Paris. Not too bad.
Can you count them all?
Swatch had chosen a hotel (excellent except the breakfast [but this is France! :-]) near La Defense ("new" Arc de Triomphe). At first I thought that this was a bit too far away from the "heart" of the city but finding a hotel in Paris for a group of 140 people is not too easy. (I had a hard time to find one room in Paris for the night from 22 to 23-JUN [on very short notice]). So this was a good choice by Swatch The Club because everyone stayed in the same hotel. This was really great.
Well, so far so good. Everyone met on Friday early afternoon. Swatch had chartered four buses for a sight seeing tour around Paris. But through some interesting channels, Swatch collector friend Brian Pier had the information that an artist signing (Marc Borgères; Agent and Simple Art) would take place at the Carlet swatch store on Friday afternoon as well. So we decided to go to the Carlet swatch store instead. Problem was: we did not have the address (we could not find it in the phonebook and in the minitel system at the hotel :-( So all we had was a map of Paris and Brian's memory because he had been at the store three years ago for the launch of the first Carlet "special". We decided to take my car because Metro is better than a car but walking through Paris searching a store is not soo funny. So we ended up stuck in friday afternoon traffic:
Driving through Paris. Please note the penguin and Brian trying to read the map :-)
Driving (well, more like crawling) around the Arc de Triomphe was almost like a bumper car ride. Fortunately without bumps :-) We made it across the Seine and finally parked the car. Brian "the walking GPS" Pier had pointed to a certain street on the map: "It should be in this street." It turned out that he was right and we finally found the Carlet store. I really have to admire Brian's memory. We thought that we were about one hour late for the signing (according to our information) but the signing had already taken place on thursday (22nd) evening! Fortunately, the Carlet store had extra signed swatches for us, even with the special signed black sleeve and the artist postcards. The store is really nice (almost better than the Swatch Megastore), if you go to Paris, drop them a visit (73, rue St. Dominique). After a short talk with the shop owner, we drove back to the hotel. We just arrived on time to leave immediately again with the buses for the dinner show in the famous club Paradis Latin. Swatch events are always exhausting :-) But the Carlet store really was worth it! And the sight seeing buses were also stuck in the traffic so it seems as if we did not miss too much...
The new head of Swatch The Club Intl., Ton Cleijne, took the stage at the Paradis Latin
and gave a warm welcome to everybody. We had a reasonably good dinner and a very nice show (no pictures allowed!). The show was actually better than I expected: Yes, dancing girls and boys, and french can-can but also an excellent trapeze artist, a talking dog, a funny magician etc.etc. So the Paradis Latin was a good choice. Especially our american friends enjoyed the show:
Brian having fun at the Paradis Latin
Saturday morning, a treasure hunt all over Paris had been organized by the Club. We all met at the new arc of La Defense
and started the hunt in groups of 10 to 15 people. Our group was called The Blue Penguins:
Trish (she manages swatch the club USA) always makes nice jackets for the US club members, this time, the color was blue as you can see on the picture. During the treasure hunt, we had to solve six questions at six different locations about Paris. One stop was at the Trocadero where you have a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower:
The questions during the treasure hunt were really easy, it turned out that everyone was a winner in the end. I think that this was good because there was no rushing and running for rare prizes... The solution of the treasure hunt was "16, place Vendôme". This is the location of a new, very special swatch store which just opened on 30-JUN. As one other stop of the treasure hunt was at place Vendôme, we could see that the store was still being built:
Roy Porello, Esther Montagner, and Roberto Quadrini dreaming of getting into the store :-)
The treasure hunt ended on a pirate ship on the Seine near Notre Dame. Upon entering the boat, Ton gave one special (Anticonstitutionellement from the new fall / winter collection with a special paper loop around the sleeve) to each club member, so everyone was a winner...
Queuing for the special...
At last: A family photo!
Even the blue penguins made it!
On the boat, a delicious buffet was served. Really a great location for lunch.
In the afternoon, spare time for all club members: shopping, sight seeing, museums, whatever...
Saturday night was party time. We went to a nice bar where Swatch
had reserved the upper floor. Drinks and small "tapas" were served.
Very relaxing. I have made a special
page about the party (Warning: If you haven't been there,
the "party" page is probably even more boring than this one!).
Nice party which ended much too early. We went to the Eiffel tower again, spent midnight on the second floor of the Eiffel tower (great view! but the "sparkling" Eiffel tower looks better from the distance). We managed to catch the last metro to La Defense. I guess that finding a taxi in Paris at 1AM wouldn't be easy. So we were lucky...
On Sunday, it was time to say "goodbye". It really took hours until the lobby of the hotel was somewhat empty. People still had to make some "deals", had to exchange stories, or just said "see you soon". The spirit of the event was really relaxed. Thanks again to all hard working team members of Swatch The Club who made this event possible. You did a great job!
Thanks to Lionel Vasselle and Roberto Quadrini for many pictures!