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...

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to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

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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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