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The Paris event is La Biennale Des Antiquaires, the 20th edition of which will be held in the Carrousel du Louvre from September 15 to October, 2000.

While one does not expect a surfeit of modesty from the French, other international fair organisers might blanch just a little at the introduction to a press handout about this year’s Biennale which states unequivocally: “Once again Paris will host the most prestigious event in the international art fair calendar.”

However, few will argue that it is one of the most prestigious and certainly it can lay claim to being the grandest.

Around 120 top-of-the-tree dealers from France, America, UK, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Monaco and Italy will stand in a sumptuous event which in the most stylish way offers stock from antiquity to the 1950s. Unlike some other top international fairs the Biennale remains quintessentially a fair of its country.

The majority of dealers are French and traditionally the whole ambience is very French. Non-French visitors have occasionally found the fair forbidding and non-French exhibitors have sometimes found the going tough.

But the quality of this fair has never been denied and this year there is no doubt that the organisers, the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, a body of French dealers under the presidency of distinguished Parisian book dealer Claude Blaizot, have gone out of their way to emphasise that this is a truly international meeting of culture and commerce.

Having appointed professional public relations people both in America and the UK, this French fair is making the effort to be not an exclusively French affair, which was always a justified jibe in the past.

There are 10 UK exhibitors, among them London picture dealers Richard Green, Derek Johns and John Mitchell; books and manuscripts dealer Sam Fogg and Jorge Welsh Oriental Works of Art.

Obviously, the cream of the French trade will be on parade and they have saved up some real treasures to unveil at the fair. The other nine countries will obviously try to emulate them.

Aware of current trends the Biennale is offering a larger than ever quota of more modern works and the influence of designers will be felt.

The quality and vetting is superb, and we can look forward to a top world-ranking event which attracts a staggering 90,000 visitors.

Admission at the Biennale des Antiquaries is Fr75.