Newsletter #81: January-February 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
Heather Stimmler-Hall in Newsletter

IN THIS ISSUE:

* Heather’s News
* Customer Service at Last?
* Bobin’O: The City’s Newest Cabaret
* Dining & Nightlife News & Reviews
* Other Paris Blogs: Food & Wine & Attitude
* Later Metro Hours
* Hotel News
* Vacation Apartment Rental Link
* Live in
Paris ? Plant a Tree
* Strike Info Website
* Organic Food Delivery
* Naughty Deliveries after Midnight
* Customize Your Own French Stamps
* More Newsletters, Please!
* Heather’s
Tours and Vacation Planning

* Heather’s News *

So far 2008 has started off on the right note. I finally have a cover for the Naughty Paris Guide after 81 different versions submitted by the design team in San Francisco (!!) and this week I was interviewed about the guide for Playboy TV’s new series debuting in the spring called “69 Sexy Things to do Before You Die” (Paris being one of them, obviously). Dad is proud…and probably relieved that I’m fully clothed!

* Customer Service at Last? *

The French government, who gets a large portion of my income, was kind enough to promptly return my €116 TV tax (which pays for public television in France ) when I wrote a letter stating I didn’t have a TV. Automatically deposited back into my bank account, isn’t that nice? And, for the first time in the 11 years I’ve been here, the RATP (Metro/Bus company) decided to compensate commuters for the days lost during the transportation strikes in November (computed automatically based on whether you had a weekly, monthly, or annual pass). In a country where 99% of customer service helplines are charged *more* than a regular phone call, this is a welcome improvement!

* Bobin’O: The City’s Newest Cabaret *

The Bobin’O Cabaret opened during the summer, and I finally got a chance to go check it out last weekend. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it after a visit to their website because it looked impossibly cheesy and “Vegas”, whereas I prefer more of the sexy, intimate atmosphere of the Crazy Horse. But I was happily surprised at how much fun I had! And afterwards the cabaret becomes a nightclub so you can stay and party until the wee hours (you didn’t have to attend the show to get into the club; just come after 11pm ). Get the full details on my Paris Cabaret Page and in the Nightlife Reviews.

* Dining & Nightlife News & Reviews *

I also reviewed Le Tania Club, a minuscule but cool bar/club for the 20-something crowd off the Champs-Elysées, and Le Pin-Up, a cute retro bar in the Montorgueil district. Rumors of the next big nightlife shakeup on the Champs-Elysées seem to be that the ailing Planet Hollywood and its more exclusive neighboring club, The VIP Room, will be closed so that the FNAC store can expand to compete with the Virgin Megastore. Personally, I won’t miss either.

If your French is up to snuff, check out the nightlife clubbing news and photos from local soirées at www.soonnight.com

In Dining Reviews, I’ve added Nono, a cool wine bar in Belleville ; Le Lup, the new boudoir-like all-night restaurant ( 9pm-5am ) near St-Germain-des-Prés; hot chocolate at the Bar à Chocolat in the Mauboussin Jewelry Boutique on the Champs-Elysées; and lunch at my favorite neighborhood trattoria, Les Cailloux

* Other Paris Blogs: Food & Wine & Attitude *

Sometimes I’m so impressed with other people’s blogs that I end up reading them all night instead of writing my own (ahem). I don’t know how I missed Adrian Moore's blog; it’s hilarious and has a lot of great restaurant reviews. Unfortunately Adrian ’s not getting enough fan mail, so he’s threatening to remove the blog completely. Maybe he’d have more hits if he revealed a bit more gossip from his day job as concierge at one of the Parisian palace hotels (not telling which one).

Another good laugh is the videoblog Wine Rendez-vous from Olivier of O-Château, a seriously irreverent look at the wine world that will either make Olivier famous, or get him slapped. Maybe both.

On a completely different note, those looking for a more newsy type blog about France in general will like the French Journal.

* Later Metro Hours *

If you haven’t been following my blog (yeah, I know, everyone’s so busy), you may not have heard that the metro now runs an hour later on Friday as well as Saturday (approx 2am). Halleluja. With the horizontal rain we’ve been getting this week, standing in a line for the taxi (or flying down the streets on a Vélib’) is out of the question.

* Hotel News *

The Plaza Athénée now has a smoking area outside, La Terrasse Montaigne, overlooking the avenue Montaigne, food served, no reservations.

Le Bristol has their next Fashion High Tea on February 16, featuring Versace, €45 includes teas, sandwiches and pastries (reservations a must).

St-Christopher's Inn, the city’s first custom-built youth hostel, opened this month with a huge party in their Belushi’s Bar (on the ground level overlooking the canal). Cocktails €6.50, lunch menus €10. See my review of the hostel here.

The Five Hotel has its own Facebook-type website called The Five Spirit where “modern travellers who stayed or wish to stay in unique Five Hotel in the Quartier Latin of Paris share information and photographs about cool travels.” Someone asked me if people who meet through the site actually hook up…I’ll keep you posted. ;)

Le Meurice had Philippe Starck completely redesign the public spaces. So the Bar Fontainebleau is now called Le 228 (from the address of the hotel) but looks no different to me, and the beautiful Jardin d’Hiver has been given a surrealist makeover and is now called Le Dali. And it looks weird. The gorgeous Art Nouveau glass ceiling was replaced by an immense painting by Ara (yep, Philippe’s daughter…but supposedly her painting was chosen anonymously…read here.

* Vacation Apartment Rental Link *

If you’re looking to rent a furnished apartment for a week or so during your vacation in Paris, check out Paris Apartment Info, a supposedly independent site rating the different agencies (I say “supposedly” because I still haven’t received a reply to my email asking to clarify a few things…like whether she rates agencies based on experience or just from looking at their site). In any case, a good resource.

* Live in Paris ? Plant a Tree *

The mayor has launched an environmental campaign called “Un Parisien, Un Arbre” (One Parisian, One Tree), in partnership with the National Office of Forestry (OFNI), to plant Two million trees (or one for every Parisian) in deforested Francophone countries like Cameroon, Madagascar, and Haiti. So if you’re among the two million lucky enough to live in Paris , do your part and donate a tree (€5) through the official website: Un Parisien, Un Arbre.

* Strike Info Website *

A new website was created during the last strikes in November to help those of us who need to get around despite public transport interruptions, called Malgré la Grève. It’s not updated regularly so no info on the home page about today’s interruptions (I believe line 6 and 2 are partial service), but there are handy survival links for RATP, SNCF, Air France , InfoTrafic, Vélib, and ridesharing sites. Even when there is no strike, ride-sharing is a great idea for you suburbanites out there, so check out www.123envoiture.com (French only).

* Organic Food Delivery *

Most supermarkets deliver your food in Paris (handy if you’re on the 7th floor without a lift), and I’ve tested Telemarket, Ooshop and my local Champion. But I like my organic veggies for juicing, so I usually go to the outdoor market on my street. But f course, now that it’s cold and wet, this Arizona girl cringes at the idea. So I tested out Natoora, a food delivery service that specializes in organic and/or local produce and gourmet foods, often coming directly from the farms to maintain freshness. Best of all, to save the environment (and a bit of cash), the delivery people unpack your food from the boxes so they can reuse them. A bit pricey, but worth it.

* Naughty Deliveries after Midnight *

So, say it’s 1am and you need some ice, or Champagne , or a “sleepover kit” for a “friend” who’s visiting. If you were in the US , you’d just drive out to the 24-hour supermarket or drugstore (or even a well-stocked gas station). No dice in France , where people tend to go home at night rather than work ungodly hours. Luckily, in a pinch you can have it delivered to your door, along with prepared meals, liquors, flowers, and breakfast. Just visit the website Nemo and place your order between 7pm and 6am; credit card payments now accepted.

* Customize Your Own French Stamps *

La Poste now has a really cool service where you can create your own stamps: Mon Timbre à Moi. Just upload a photo, format it, decide if you want it to be valid for mailing letters within Europe or elsewhere in the world, et voilà! You can buy them in books of ten or thirty, and they cost €1/each for mailing in Europe and €1.40 each for mailing to North America . They deliver overseas, so maybe you can be proactive and order some in advance to use when sending postcards on your vacation. 

* More Newsletters, Please! *
I actually started writing this newsletter in December, then continued in in January, and dang it, February snuck up on me! So, yes, the newsletter has not exactly been monthly. However I do tend to add information to my Secrets of Paris blog and calendar on a more regular basis, so check in at www.secretsofparis.com, or subscribe to the RSS feed and you won’t even have to remember to check in!

* Heather’s Tours and Vacation Planning *

Coming to Paris and want to make the most of your trip? Don’t have any friends here to show you around and give you the lowdown on all of the best places to eat, shop and go out at night? Read about my custom tours and vacation planning services on the Secrets of Paris website: http://www.secretsofparis.com/customtours/

* Are you on the list? *

If you’ve been getting this newsletter forwarded from a friend, please consider subscribing yourself. It’s free, and all you have to do is enter your e-mail address in the box at: http://www.secretsofparis.com/subscribe.htm . The benefit? You’ll get your own copy sent directly to your inbox every month, and I’ll have a better idea of how many of you are actually reading. Thanks! –Heather

* STILL Want to Change Your Subscription Address? Read this… *

This is an opt-in and opt-out newsletter managed by YourMailingListProvider.com ( www.YMLP.com ). If you want to change the address that this newsletter is sent to, then you need to click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the newsletter, the go to the subscription page http://www.secretsofparis.com/subscribe.htm to enter your new e-mail. I’m still getting emails from people asking me to do this for them. Or at least that’s what I hear, because it seems those emails get lost to the Spam Recycle Bin before I get a chance to do anything about it…. ;)

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Please send all comments and questions to: secretsofparis@gmail.com

Secrets of Paris Newsletter is written and maintained by Heather Stimmler-Hall , copyright 2008, and may only be reproduced with written permission.

Article originally appeared on The only authentic insider guide to Paris. (http://www.secretsofparis.com/).
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