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

October 8-12
The theme for the 81st annual Fête des Vendanges, the grape harvest festival, is Montmartre Fête les Poètes. Events include a parade, grape stomping, the food & wine tasting village, cooking demos, live music, and tons of other fun stuff. Check out the entire program, the online boutique (get your commemorative bottles of wine!) and other info about the festival here.

October 12 
Stock up on fall reading material for a handful of euros and support the English-language SOS Helpline at their Autumn Book Sale today from noon-4pm at Orrick Law Offices (31 ave Pierre Ière de Serbie, 16th, M° Alma-Marceau). Paperbacks €1, hardcovers €2, all categories for adults and kids, as well as bake sale items. Those who want to donate books can drop them off during the sale.

October 16-17
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Mendelssohn and Brahms exquisitely performed by a brilliant ensemble of young professional musicians. At the Institut FInlandais (Latin Quarter, 60 rue des Ecoles, 5th) from 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it's in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited. 

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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