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

December 6-14
The annual Féeries d’Auteuil takes place at the non-profit children's organization Apprentis d'Auteuil (40 rue Jean de la Fontaine, 16th, M° Jasmin or Eglise d'Auteuil) with a Christmas market, food stands, flea market, concerts, vintage carrousel and nativity scenes, from 11am-7pm. Live singing performances on St-Sun at 5:30pm. 

December 10-14
"Le Noël des Créateurs", highlights up-and-coming designers and artisans selling ther crafts "Made in France". Come for original and unique holiday gifts! You'll find 15 chalets along the Petit Ceinture (former railway) at Located at 83 boulevard Ornano, 18th (direct access to the Petite Ceinture through la Recyclerie, right outside metro Porte de Clignancourt).

December 20-21
The Village St-Paul (entrances along Rue St Paul, 4th) is having its winter brocante (flea market) this weekend, with outdoor stands in addition to the antique and vintage shops and other fun shops in the cobblestone courtyards. 

Through December 21
The newest musical comedy at the historic Folies Bergère is a high-energy burlesque show around the theme of love with dancers, acrobats, and singers performing French, American and British songs (many which you'll recognize in the preview below). Love Circus is the perfect alternative to the Moulin Rouge (including its busloads of tourists and high prices). Tickets €29-€84 (by seating area), no dinner included, discounts for booking online. 

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
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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