Secrets of Paris 
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About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Secrets of Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

May 15-17
One of the biggest flower shows in France, Journées des Plantes de Courson, takes place this weekend at the Chateau de Chantilly, just 45 minutes north of Paris from the Gare du Nord. Entry €20 (or €17 if you get your tickets online before May 14).

May 16
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 11th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open all night...for free! 

June 21
Celebrate Fête de la Musique in 17th-century aristocratic style at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte for their annual costumes dance event, La Journée Grand Siècle, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the original owner, Nicolas Fouquet. There will be an elegant picnic in the chateau gardens, live music and dancing, as well as carriage rides and sword-fighting shows. If you don't have a costume gown you can rent one on-site from €17. 

Click here to see the full calendar of events...

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Wednesday
May272015

Paris on Periscope

This is a short video of my friend Claire about her experience as an early adopter (and #superuser) of the cool new livestreaming app Periscope. The sound isn't great, but you can hear her better than the interviewer.

If you're on Periscope you can see Paris in all its glory on Claire's feed, @clairewad (she's a #superuser with over 3000 followers). She streams sunsets, walks along the Seine, and visits of Paris monuments and museums. You can see Paris through her eyes, ask her questions, and make comments (the screenshot here is from my inaugural peek on the Periscope). Unlike many "Scopers" who just broadcast without interaction, Claire is constantly chatting with her followers, answering questions and saying hello to each new person who logs on as she strolls along.

Claire is originally from New Zealand with a French mother, and has been living in Paris for 20 years (we've known each other for almost 19 of them!), so she really knows the city like a local. You can learn more about Claire and her Periscope tours on her website Paris with Claire.  

FOR PERISCOPE NEWBIES

Even though my dad sent me to computer camp when I was just 9 years old,  I'm always the last one to know about any cool new technology (still bitter Texas Instruments stopped making computers right after I learned to code my TI99/4a). If, like me, you don't know anything about Periscope, you can read What is Periscope? and Periscope: Four Ways It's Shaking Up Media. The free Periscope iPhone app launched a few months ago, and the Android version came out a few days ago. You log in using your Twitter account (they created the app). After that, it's a bit crazy surfing around and watching videos. I recommend figuring out how it works before accidentally turning your own camera on and broadcasting your morning face to the world. 

Tuesday
May262015

Where to Watch the Cannes Film Festival in Paris

You may not be able to walk the red carpet on the famous Croisette to watch the filmsin the 68th Cannes Film Festival, but you can see many of the films in Parisian theatres this week (May 27-June 7).

The films of the Director's Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) at the Forum des Images in Les Halles (1st) (program here) through June 2.

The films from Un Certain Regard are showing at the Reflet Medicis (5th) through June 7.

All films are in their original languange with French subtitles. 

Monday
May252015

Bike Tours of the Parisian Countryside

 

You're not in Paris anymore, Toto (but you're not far, either!)

The weather in Paris is finally getting nice enough to enjoy the sunshine and start craving a bit of nature and tranquility. And while there are actually many green spaces throughout the city, some hidden and almost secluded, there's nothing like a bike ride through the countryside just outside Paris to escape the masses and reconnect with nature. 

So what is the best way to experience the Parisian countryside without any hassle? Contact Bruce from French Mystique Bike Tours, and he will take care of everything. Originally from Boston, Bruce moved to France in 2008 and spent his free time exploring the little towns, villages and countryside just outside Paris with nothing but a Michelin map and his bike. A few years ago he started French Mystique Bike tours to share his favorite routes with visitors (and Parisians) looking to truely get off the beaten path.

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Sunday
May242015

A Day at a Parisian Palace Pool

Photo courtesy Molitor

Sometimes it’s nice to escape the city for a day of relaxation, but the weather isn’t cooperative or you simply can’t get yourself organized enough to traverse the Paris périphérique. So what can you do right here in the city to feel like you’ve escaped the noise and crowds? Try a day poolside in one of the Parisian palace hotels.

Unlike the public pools, they are not cheap. But for about €200 you can spend the day lounging in luxury surroundings in pristine, heated swimming pools with spa facilities including steam baths and saunas. Combine it with a relaxing massage or facial and a light gourmet lunch and you’ve spoiled yourself rotten for the day without the bother of trains, planes or automobiles. Here are a few that offer day passes:

Photo courtesy Royal Monceau

Le Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel has a 23-meter indoor infinity pool and Clarins spa with detox treatments. All pristine white, designed by Philippe Starck, natural lighting from skylights. Day pass to pool, sauna, steam room and fitness €190 (free if you get any spa treatments of at least two hours). This is a very trendy hotel, so pack your most stylish bikini.

Photo courtesy Shangri-La Paris

Shangri-La Hotel Paris has a Greek-style 15-meter mosaic-tiled pool which opens to a huge outdoor sundeck for plenty of natural light, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon. Spa treatments by Carita. A day pass of €250 includes a 60-minute facial or body treatment and access to the pool, steam room and fitness. This hotel is known for its service, and has life guard on duty.

Photos courtesy Molitor

Hôtel MGallery Molitor just reopened in 2014 with two stunning Art Deco pools built in 1929, one indoors (33 meters under a glass roof) and one outdoors (46 meters, heated), along with a Clarins spa, steam baths, sauna and relaxation room. Day passes are €190, and at the moment it includes a 60-minute Clarins treatment (which was still offered when I called, even though the website said it expired in April). Lunch on the rooftop restaurant with views of the Eiffel Tower. Be sure to ask for a booking on a day when school kids are not using the pool! Note: the indoor pool is closed during Roland Garros. 

Photo courtesy Trianon Palace Versailles

If you don’t mind a short train from Gare St-Lazare, the Waldorf Astoria’s Trianon Palace Versailles has a large heated swimming pool beneath a glass atrium and overlooking the manicured hotel grounds. Spa treatments by Guerlain. A €150 Gold Club Beauté membership will allow you access to the pool, sauna, steam room, and outdoor deck, and includes a glass of Champagne and 60-minute spa treatment. 

Saturday
May232015

Daytripping to Country Chateaux and Hiking Trails

If you’re in the mood for bucolic country hikes, medieval fortress ruins, and secluded château visits, head to the Natural Regional Park de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse.

Vallée de la Chevreuse, Château Breteuil, Château de la Madeleine

Just under an hour southwest of Paris by train, this protected regional park is rarely visited by foreign tourists (which is probably how the French like it), but has many excellent sites easily accessible by RER and the seasonal Baladobus, a shuttle that circulates every Sunday in April through October. Starting from the RER B station Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, the Baladobus (€4 for a daypass) stops at several historic hiking trails leading to many unforgettable sites such as the 11th-century ruins of the Château de la Madeleine (with panoramic views over the valley and a visitors’ center), France’s oldest riverside mills, a house made of iron, charming villages hidden in wooded valleys, vestiges of the 13th-century Port Royal Abbey (now a museum), and the magnificent Château de Breteuil with its formal French gardens.

Note that you can also bring your bike and cycle many of these trails. Pack water and snacks (not much is open in the smaller villages on Sunday), and have an actual map in case your GPS reception disappears in the forest. All of the information is online in English with full descriptions of each trail, hours and prices for each site (you can also download the PDF leaflet).

Tuesday
May192015

Does anyone still read the Pariscope?

I was going through some old files this weekend and found a Pariscope I had saved from May 1996 (above left) with a page on classic films dog-eared (I like to think I was going to watch The Bicycle Thief since I was obsessed with Italian neo-realism in college, but it's more likely I was planning to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show). For some reason I imagined the Pariscope was no more, like the Minitel or the Bi-Bop mobile phone. But passing by the newsstand on the way to the market, there it was (above right), neatly stacked, and still a steal at just €0.70. So I bought one, and it was like traveling back in time.  

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