Secrets of Paris Newsletter #68: March 31, 2006


IN THIS ISSUE:

* News from the Home Office
* Smoke-Free Hotels
* Budget Hotels
* Dining Recommendation: Le Parisien
* Food with Feeling: Wine and Fooding Tour 2006
* Takeout & Delivery Recommendations
* Sightseeing: New Paris Museum Pass
* Sightseeing: Asian Film Fest
* Nightlife: DJ Wannabes
* Nightlife: Unusual Jazz Venue
* Responsible Shopping
* Responsible Dumping
* Décor Help for the Hopeless
* Get Involved
* Activities: Medieval Arts Sketching
* Free Garden Entrance
* Arts & Entertainment: Unusual Art Gallery
* FYI on New Telephone Numbers

* News from the Home Office *

I’ll bet you all thought I forgot about the March newsletter, eh? Things have been busy, busy, busy at Secrets of Paris HQ, but I stayed home this Saturday just so I could give you all your fix.

AND….the new website is finally up! I’ve moved all of the info from the old Secrets of Paris onto the new host site (temporary URL: http://secretsofparis.squarespace.com). I’m still in the process of entering information into the new Resource Guide section of the site. As soon as it’s finished (I’m hoping by mid-April) I’ll be changing the URL over to www.secretsofparis.com (the old site will stay up until I do). So go ahead and have a look around and do let me know if there are any dead ends, bad links or other glitches and misspellings (my space bar sticks sometimes). I’ll be sending out another brief e-mail when the site is officially “up”.

If you’re curious about the “riots” (really, they’re protest marches; the thugs causing trouble are a very small percentage, a few hundred out of millions of protesters), see the latest pics from the frontlines (below my window) at my blog.

Don’t worry about canceling your trip to Paris until you see me posting photos of my airlift to safety from the roof of the American Embassy. ;)

Finally, thanks to everyone who sent in literary agent recommendations. Carolyn and I have signed with the New York agency Sterling Lord Literistic. Read all about it on the Naughty Paris Blog.

Paris is finally warming up, spring is definitely in the air; see you on the terraces!

A bientôt,

Heather

* Smoke-Free Hotels *

Everyone thinks it’s impossible, but the smoke-free movement is creeping up on Paris, not through legislation (everyone ignores the no-smoking signs) but through businesses. There are now two 100% smoke-free hotels in the Parisian region in the Accor group chain, Ibis. Of course, they’re in La Défense and St-Denis (ie not areas where the average tourist would stay anyway), but it’s a start! Read more here.

* Budget Hotels *

Hotel des Batignolles (www.escapade-paris.com) is in the up-and-coming Batignolles district, a few blocks from the M° Place du Clichy. Nothing spectacular in terms of décor or services, just a clean, safe place to crash at night. Doubles with bathroom are €62, “renovated” rooms with bathroom and satellite TV €72, and triples with bathroom and satellite TV are €88. Great little bistros and cafés in the area. In the same group but a bit more central is the Hotel des Arts, right next door to me (across from the police station and three metro lines, five bus lines, cafés, cinemas, walking distance to the Latin Quarter). Rooms are €54 for a single and €88 for a triple (all with private bathroom, cable TV and direct dial telephone).

* Dining Recommendation: Le Parisien *

Le Parisien: 54 Rue du Four, 6th, M° St-Germain-des-Prés)

I’ve liked this little brasserie-café ever since I used to work around the corner on the Rue du Dragon (at a muffin shop that’s now a brownie shop). They serve traditional French café food like croque monsieur’s, francforts and fries, goat’s cheese salads, and heartier dishes like pepper steak or rack of lamb. The service is always very friendly (the same two brunette women have been working there for the past 8 years), the prices are less than most places in St-Germain, and the décor is typically Parisian. The non-smoking section is in the back mezzanine area (where there’s a lovely mural of an Art Nouveau street scene). A great address to remember when you’re on a shopping frenzy on the Rue du Four.

* Food with Feeling: Wine and Fooding Tour 2006 *

Each monthly “gastronomie alternative” event presents a special wine and the food from the same region, prepared by a star chef (usually of Michelin star status), served in a branché restaurant or bistro around Paris. The next is April 10 at Delaville Café: gewurztraminer wine + bonbons d’agneau + music by Tania Bruna-Rosso and Cécile Togny + chef Flora Mikula. To attend you’ll need the password, available on the Fooding site from April 6.

* Takeout & Delivery Recommendations *

I’m not a big fan of take out or delivery food, but it’s always good to have a flyer handy when you’re starving but too busy to change out of your nightie to get dinner. I tested two places that are excellent:

Planet Sushi (www.planetsushi.fr; 08 26 00 33 33) has five locations in Paris open 11am-11pm. Obviously they deliver sushi in all its forms at reasonable prices; delivery is free with a minimum order of €15. I like their cute delivery bag, too. Best thing is, you can ORDER ONLINE! No need to call, pas mal eh? One disappointment: my hot miso soup was sitting right on top of my maki rolls, creating an unpleasant circle of warm sushi. Let’s hope it was a fluke.

I live right on the edge of Chinatown, but finding decent Chinese food isn’t that easy. Le Lotus Bleu (www.lotus-bleu.fr; 01 45 32 24 20 or 01 43 55 57 75) has two restaurants in Paris, Rive Gauche and Rive Droit, and they make the Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food fresh when it’s ordered. Sticky rice comes wrapped in a huge banana leaf, the side order of noodles is enough to feed four people, and everything just tastes so darned good! They deliver 11:30am-2:15pm weekdays and 6:45pm-10:30pm every day; free delivery from €12.

Another interesting service I haven’t actually tried yet is Allo Apéro, a wine and spirits delivery service open until 2am on weekdays, 4am on weekends. Handy for when you’re party has run out! Call 01 71 71 69 69.

* Sightseeing: New Paris Museum Pass *

The “Carte Musées-Monuments” is now, conveniently, called the Paris Museum Pass. http://www.parismuseumpass.fr Aside from the new name and look, the cards are now good until the day you use them (meaning you can buy them in advance and they won’t expire). They’re good for entrance into 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris, including the Château de Versailles for 2, 4, or 6 consecutive days. The card allows you to skip the ticket window lines in “most” cases. Some museums still require you to get a “free” ticket at the window with your card or pass through the security line, so don’t get too excited about breezing past the suckers queuing up. Details are on their website.

* Sightseeing: Asian Film Fest *

The Musée Guimet (6 place Iéna, 16th; M° Iéna) shows films every Wednesday and Friday at 12:15pm for €4 (in the auditorium). Until June they’re featuring “New Wave” Taiwanese films made in the 1980s. www.museeguimet.fr

* Nightlife: DJ Wannabes *

Think you’d be a great DJ if you just had a chance to prove yourself? The Australian bar Café Oz (18 Rue St-Denis, 1st, M° Châtelet) has “Open DJ” nights every Wednesday. To sign up call 06 82 81 52 33.

* Nightlife: Unusual Jazz Venue *

Catch an international jazz concert in an original venue. The Czech Cultural Centre (18 Rue Bonaparte, 6th, M° St-Germain-des-Prés, www.centretcheque.org) hosts “Paris Prague”, jazz acts from around the world every Friday from 7pm in their vaulted stone cellar. Entrance €5.

* Responsible Shopping *

The organic-ethnic supermarket Markethic (44 Rue de la Folie Mericourt, 11th, M°Oberkampf, tel 08 72 19 28 79) specializes in organic, equitable commerce products: environmentally-friendly laundry detergent, African stuffed animals, organic honey from Normandy, dried mangos from Burkina Faso, pasta with spirulina, and Palestinian olives. There are also wines from all over the world, baby foods from the German brand Hipp, Moltex organic cotton diapers, and organic beauty products.

* Responsible Dumping *

Do you live in Paris and need to get rid of some “junk” like outdated clothes, broken furniture, a car that barely runs? Don’t leave it on the sidewalk, give it to www.recupe.net. Unlike sites where you can sell (Craig’s List) or exchange (Sel de Paris), Recupe.net is for giving things away that you would normally throw in the trash. The rules are simple: no money or exchange is involved, and the person receiving the “donation” should make the effort to pick it up. Oh, and no animals are allowed to be listed. If you’re an incurable dumpster diver yourself, log on to see all the great junk that’s available.

* Décor Help for the Hopeless *

Do you want to redecorate your Parisian pied-à-terre and don’t know where to start? Does the Sous Sol at BHV give you hives? Help is available, for a fee of course! Printemps has a special “Conseil Déco” service where, from €145/hour to €745/day you get your very own home visit by the hip young architect Fabrice (of course his name is Fabrice) Bejani for advice on how to redo your space, lighting, colors, décor, etc. within your own budget and incorporating the existing furnishings if you prefer. A shopping list and contacts for “artisans” is provided as part of the service. Call 01 42 82 66 11.

* Get Involved *

Non Au Nombrilisme (No to Navel Gazing): links to donating your time, your money, your (gulp!) organs

* Activities: Medieval Arts Sketching *

Take a sketching class at the Cluny Museum of Medieval Arts (www.musee-moyenage.fr). Open to all levels, with a professional artist, “students” spend a Saturday afternoon sketching the collection, sculptures, tapestries…the sketchpad and entry to museum is included in €12.60 price; April 1st, 8th, 22, 29. Reserve your space at 01 53 73 78 16 (15 people max).

* Free Garden Entrance *

Spring is in the air, and now that the entrance to the city’s municipal gardens is free, there’s no reason not to stop and smell the roses. The newly free gardens include: Jardin d’Enfants des Halles, 1st; La Ferme de Paris, 12th; l’Arboretum de l’Ecole du Breuil, 12th; JArdins du Serre d’Auteuil, 16th; and the Maison de l’Air (actually an educational center in the Belleville Park), 19th. The Parc Floral and Parc de Bagatelle are still €1 to enter (€5 and €3 when there are concerts). For more info, see the website.

* Arts & Entertainment: Unusual Art Gallery *

Parking garages aren’t the most attractive places in the world, but now contemporary art lovers can park in the Galerie Serpentine, an art gallery within the underground parking garage at 155bis Rue de Rennes, 6th, M° St-Placide. The director hopes the concept will help democratize the gallery by being accessible to everyone without the stuffy atmosphere usually associated with galleries. The gallery is open 24/7 to those who are using the garage, or from 6:30am-1:30am for everyone else. For more info check out the site www.galerieserpentine.com

* FYI on New Telephone Numbers *

For those of you used to dialing “12” (or even 222, 712, 3912, etc.) for directory assistance, as of Monday that number will no longer be valid. There are many new directory assistance companies, and in order to be “fair”, they all now consist of six digits, beginning with 118. The Pages Jaune number is 118 008, others include 118 012, 118 000, 118 712. All of the numbers are listed at www.appel118.fr.

Also, if you seem to notice a lot of “08” numbers, it’s because all of the new ISPs offering free Internet-based phone lines (like Free.fr and AliceADSL.fr) give their clients a 08 number. Within France, the only 08 numbers that are free are the ones followed by “00” (ie “08 00 34 34 34”).

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