*** Secrets of Paris Newsletter #20: January 15, 2002***

IN THIS ISSUE:

*From the Home Office
*Carpe Diem!
*Not Just for Kids
*Big Screen Film Fest
*L'Art de la Beauté des Mains
*Life in the Grands Boulevards!
*Couture Chocolate
*Fashionista Hunting
*French Touch MP3

* From the Home Office *
Another New Year's come and gone, and nothing but the bleak days of January ahead? Not in Paris! The winter 'soldes' (sales) started last week, which in Paris is something like the day after Thanksgiving sales in the US, but they last for five weeks. And if you can wait long enough for those Gucci shoes, the prices just get cheaper as the weeks pass by. If full-contact competitive shopping isn't your thing, don't worry. There's many other ways to be entertained during the dark days of winter when it's just too cold to stroll. January also brings us Fashion Week (coincidence?) from January 19 for Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2002. If you're dying to catch some models and fashion royalty in their natural habitats, see below for the list of places to camp out. Happy New Year! -H

* Carpe Diem! *
Claire sent in a very glowing review of the new Carpe Diem Café. It used to be an Irish bar called the James Joyce (you'll still see the Guinness sign outside), but has been completely redone inside and now has a sort of international ambiance. Here's her take on the food:
"Delicious starters, the Camembert rôti au caramel de cidre is divine food of the gods, all around €6.10 (40f). The rest I have not tried, includes Smoked trout on bed of potatoes, marinated Haddock with cranberries(!), Foie gras maison with fig marmalade (10.70 €). Main dishes all around 10-12€ (65-80F), nice roast magret duck with cèpes mushrooms, Bavette poliée with red shallots, etc. Desserts include sabayon de Champagne au fruits, gratin de babane caramelise, fondant au chocolat crème de thym, and pear and prunes with wine and cinnamon." French food with modern twist, and they even have South African and Californian wines. And, she happily reports, very friendly staff and good music.
Carpe Diem Café
Corner of rue du Bourdonnais and rue des Halles, 1st arr.
Tel: 01 42 21 02 01.

* Not just for Kids *
Perhaps the last time you saw a circus it was all big top, funny clowns, elephants and peanuts. Well forget all of that. Paris attracts the most innovative modern circuses in the world. One in particular, the Cirque du Grand Céleste, has been in the limelight for the past two years for its daring entertainment. Imagine a cross between danse, theatre and high-flying circus fun, and you've got the idea. For more circus listings (yeah, there's more than a couple), check out the weekly Pariscope at newsstands. Go ahead, go to the circus! You don't have to tell anyone…
Cirque du Grand Céleste
Porte des Lilas, 19th arr.
Until February 15
Tel. 01 53 19 99 13.

* Big Screen Film Fest *
Tomorrow is the opening day of the Festival de la Géode. The Géode is that big screen cinema experience that makes you feel like you're part of the show. Catch the latest films, some never shown in France, including a few world premiers. Everything from dramatic nature documentaries to scientific odysseys. You don't have to be a Discovery Channel to fan to be impressed.
La Géode.
26, avenue Corentin Cariou, 19th arr.
Tel. 01 40 05 79 99.
From January 16 to February 3.

* L'Art de la Beauté des Mains *
Wearing gloves all of the time is no excuse to let the hands go to pot. If you're no stranger to the Shu Uemura cosmetics line, then you'll want to stop by the Bon Marché department store to see their new Nail Bar. Set inside the newly expanded world of Shu Uemura on Bon Marché's ground floor, you can get expertly pampered hands and nails painted with the latest in the season's colors -- and not just for the ladies! There are Express treatments, Japanese manicures, and a 75-minute hand overhaul for those who need some extra pampering. From €8-55.
Shu Uemura at Le Bon Marché
At Sévres-Babylone, 6th arr.
Tel. 01 42 22 33 49
info@shu-uemura.fr

* Life in the Grands Boulevards! *
The latest cool place to see and be seen hanging out is De la Ville Café on Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, just on the border of the 10th and 2nd arrondissements. Once a 19th century bordello, it still retains its grand staircase and marble columns, but has been redesigned in a sort of industrial loft look. Lots of tables and corners to read the afternoon paper with a cup of tea or snacks in peace, but at night it becomes a bar with pre-club crowds. The second floor hosts live DJs like the famous Dimitri and friends, who host the Thursday night 'shows' from 8:30pm until midnight. Grab some friends and head on over, just two steps from the metro.
De la Ville Café
34 Blvd Bonne Nouvelle, 2nd arr.
Tel 01 48 24 48 09

* Couture Chocolate *
Only the Parisians can blur the line so fabulously between fashion and chocolate. You may know the Maison du Chocolate. You may have tasted the devine delights of LeNôtre. But until you've been to Pierre Hermé, you haven't lived. Gourmandises. Petits gateaux, glaces & sorbets. Macarons like you've been dreaming of. First of all, the newest boutique is in the fashionable St.-Germain-de-Près neighborhood, and from the outside actually looks like a fashion boutique with its dark wood and frosted windows displaying chocolates like works of art. Lined up are the beau monde, usually out the door (it's a tiny place). Inside you've got a wall of ready to go goodies, boxed up so pretty you could do all of your holiday shopping here (planning ahead for 2002). Standing in line isn't a bad thing, since it gives you time to ogle all of the amazing desserts. To see them boxed and placed in bags that blend right in with your shopping from Vuitton, Prada and Armani. The menu lists the "Collection Automne-Hiver 2001-2002". I had a Plaisir Sucré (with praline, hazelnut, the thinnest layers of milk chocolate, ganache and milk chocolate whipped cream). It looked like something that would make me ill right away, but it was heaven, and I wanted ten more. Their signature pastry is the 2000 Feuilles, which comes with its own presentation box. And they deliver anywhere in Paris as well as Europe. Dangerous for the wallet, this place.
Pierre Hermé
72, rue Bonaparte, 6th arr.
Tel 01 43 54 47 77

* Fashionista Hunting *
With the added security measures all over the world, I wouldn't recommend trying any daring stunts to sneak into the Haut Couture shows next week. But that doesn't mean you miss out on the fun. Everyone knows the audience at the collections are more interesting than the actual runway shows, so here's a few of the many places in Paris where you can 'bump into them":
Cabaret Club (Place Palais Royale, next to the Louvre) is one of the hottest clubs in Paris (how many times can one go to Les Bains?). Don't show up before 2am and wear your highest stilettos (or your most coveted pair of trainers). If you can't brave the doorman, the Cabaret is also open for lunch and dinner, book in advance. Tel 01 58 62 56 25.
Pershing Hall (49 rue Pierre Charron) is a hotel near the Champs Elysées with the coolest lounge bar. It's a place to sit, not wander about, so reserve ahead: www.pershinghall.com
Bleu Comme Bleu (2 rue Castiglione, 1st arr.) has a new chic Vendome location combining a beauty salon, clothing and home décor boutique for men and women, and an Italian bistro for fashionistas who lunch. A great place to catch those overworked models slipping in for a facial and zen massage. Tel. 01 58 62 54 54.
Korova (33 rue Marboeuf) is on the same street as the trendy Man Ray and Nobu restaurants, so you can't go wrong here. A very modern design and one of the few female chefs of note in Paris. Their specialty is Coke-Cola Chicken. But don't let that scare you off. Reservations 01 53 89 93 93 or info@korova.fr
You normally can't miss the fashion crowd if you hang out at the trendy boutiques of Rue St. Honoré, St-Germain-des-Près or Ave. Montaigne. The big name hotel bars aren't a bad place to celebrity spot either: Ritz, Crillon, Square Hotel (with their Zebra Square Bar & Restaurant), Hotel Costes, the Montalembert, Four Seasons…Happy Hunting!

* French Touch MP3 *
Keep up with the latest in French music from anywhere in the world at PeopleSound.com. A great site where musicians have agreed to allow their music to be available for listening on the computer or MP3. Check out the artist of the week, or search by music genre (they have them all). It's in French, but pretty straightforward. The best part is that they can match your tastes to recommend new artists you may have never heard before:
http://fr.peoplesound.com/index.htm

* The Latest at Suite101.com *
Thinking of moving to Paris? The latest article lists some of the best expat web sites to help you get a good idea of what you'd be getting yourself into! (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/4820/86117)

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