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 Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

March 10
Heather will be the featured guest speaker at Parler Paris Après Midi, discussing the topic "How Parisian Women Do It: Feminism & Femininity in the City of Light". Naughty Paris Guides will be available for €25 (cash only).  From 3-5pm, upstairs at Café de la Mairie, corner of Rue des Archives and Rue de Bretagne, 3rd. Free entry.

March 17
Sex & Booze: An Erotic Book Club at The Chamber, where we'll be reading Story of O by Anne Declos, drinking cocktails, and talking about...well, sex. Limited to 8 women only, 8-10pm in a private home; sign up while there's space!

March 20-21
You will have a rare chance  to hear Betthoven's towering masterpiece Missa Solemnis for a modest price at either Saint Eustache or the American Cathedral, and to see for yourself the high standard reached by the Paris Choral Society. Don't wait -- order your tickets online now at www.parischoralsociety.org

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

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Thursday
Jun252009

Open-air Drinking Ban in Paris

Enjoying a bottle of wine with friends on the banks of the Seine has long been one of the joys of living in France. No container laws here! But alas, oui, there actually are laws banning the consumption of alcohol in public. Up until now, the French police have simply turned a blind eye to the obvious open bottles (and beer cans) enjoyed by the picnic crowds, as long as everyone is well-behaved. And therein lies the problem.

Some people just don't know how to behave, and it's been getting worse (with about two dozen arrests on the Champ de Mars this week as French teens celebrate end of exams with a bit too much exuberance and destruction of public property). If you've ever seen the Champ de Mars in the morning, you'd understand. It's covered in bottles, cans, cigarette butts, garbage, and broken glass. Not nice.

Alcohol (and any glass containers) have long been banned in public parks, but now the police are openly enforcing the laws by either confiscating or pouring out any alcoholic beverages being consumed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is where it gets confusing.

The ban is not everywhere in Paris, and it's not a 24-hour ban. For example, open containers are not allowed on the Champ de Mars between 4pm and 7am. So you can drink there for your lunch picnic, but you won't be drinking there for the Bastille Day fireworks show (well, not legally, anyway).

Drinking on the street is banned after 9pm in several other neighborhoods including the Champs-Elysées, the Parvis Notre-Dame, all parks and gardens, Beaubourg, les Halles, the Marais, the Latin Quarter, rue du Faubourg Montmartre, Pigalle, the Canal Saint-Martin, Bastille, Oberkampf, and all train stations. The minimum fines are 38 euros, up to 750 euros.

If you're not sure, just don't drink after 4pm in any public places (or risk having to dump it out quickly if you see police handing out fines). And if you do picnic, remember to clean up after yourselves and encourage others to do the same.

Read more about the Paris drinking laws here (in French).


A well-behaved picnic on the Quai du Louvre with my little brother and friends.

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Reader Comments (3)

We found out about this about a month ago, when, picnicking on the Champs de Mars, the police swept through and growled at everyone... Then they did another sweep and everyone who had a visible open bottle got a fine. Harsh, but I understand why they have to do it.
(And in fact, we talked about this in length on a couple of episodes of the podcast!)
June 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatia
There always has to be that element that ruins things for everyone else. Quel dommage.
June 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstarman169
Great site! Does anyone know if restaurants are open on Christmas day? We would like to spend Christmas in Paris; we live in Ireland. A good time to go? (I hope)
August 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

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