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
* Travel Writing Workshops
* Calendar of interesting Paris events 
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Tours & Travel Planning

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here




Calendar of Paris Events

Through February 27
The 100% Packaging-Free Organic Pop-Up store by BioCoop, originally just slated to run through COP21, has been such a success that it's not extended through the end of February.  There are over 250 itiems available in bulk, including produce, fresh bread, dairy (butter, yogurt and cheese), fresh ground coffee, nut butters, and other items, 20% from local sources. If you don't bring your own reusable glass jars and other containers you can buy them at the shop. At 14 rue du Châteu d'Eau, 10th, open 10am-8pm Mon-Sat. 

December 1 - January 31
Skate on the Eiffel Tower! This year the ice skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower is back, free for those who already have a ticket for the Tower, open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. Skip the line by taking the stairs, it will help you warm up, too! Skates size 25-47 (EU), sleds and scooters for kids, gloves are required. This year's theme is COP21, so expect to see an eco-friendly decor.

Through February 28
Bartabas' Zingaro shows combine equestrian theatre, dance, world music, poetry and many other disciplines. After having pounded the ground of his Théâtre Equestre Zingaro for more than a quarter of a century, Bartabas is now tackling the skies with his new show "They shoot angels, don't they? (elegies)". Get your tickets €42-50 at FNAC

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

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur


Cold Fanatsy Meat


The waiters at the little outdoor café in the Jardins du Luxembourg carry around little laminated cards with the special of the day on them. Today's special? Cold fantasy meat...I should have ordered it just to photograph it for you, but alas, dear readers, I'm just not that much of a journalist. ;-)


The New France with Sarkozy

Thought you might all like a little insight into the new French regime under Nicolas Sarkozy, as seen by longtime expat writer Mort Rosenblum: A New France, Sixth Republic -- or Sarkostan?


Paris Gets Naughty

The Naughty Paris team has been all over town shooting photos for the guidebook this week. See my behind-the-scenes photoblog of the sessions here.


Hot in the City -- Summer Arrives in Paris!

Well it's about time! Just last week we were all wearing our spring trench coats and hats, with the thermometer outside hovering in the 65-70°F range during the day, lower (with wind and rain) at night. I mean, what kind of July is that?!

But of course the French always manage to pull off a good parade and fireworks display, so it just had to be sunny on the Saturday the 14 of July (Bastille Day, BTW). And at dawn the new Vélib' bikes were delivered. By that night, the first hot and humid night of the year, the city center was already teeming with new Vélib' riders of all ages. Seems to be working fabulously. But one concern: am I the only one wearing a helmet in this town?


The Stars in Paris

The city lights are too bright to see any of the stars in the sky, but even the darkest clubs can't hide the eartl-bound stars who've been spotted around town. Last week the city was overrun with the wedding guests of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria (who, incidentally married in the same town hall where your truly got hitched), including actor Terrence Howard, spotted by Petite Brigitte at the VIP Room. I even ran into one lost guest on the metro at midnight, a cousin of Eva's, who had been trying to find her hotel for almost an hour (not everyone gets a car and driver apparently).

This week CSI Vegas star Gary Dourdan hit every happening nightspot in town, including  Le Baron, Black Calavados, and Neo, and he even sang a Zeppelin song at the final Kararocké soirée of the season at Le Paris Paris with Sean Lennon (check out his new clip sung with French musician M). His entourage stopped at the Babylone Bis on Rue Tiquetonne (2nd) for a very late dinner (the sun has just come up in this photo, below), a legendary Afro-Caribbean restaurant with an impressive list of famous clientele (from Marvin Gaye to Denzel Washington) and an even more impressive braised chicken...mmmmm. The French rap star Mac Tyer (aka Socrate) was also there, wearing sunglasses in the dark restaurant, like you do.

Gary, not too cool to pose with fans, looking all French with that scarf.

 PS: CSI Miami (the one with David Caruso) actually sounds better dubbed in French (they call it Les Experts here in France).



Clarification on the Vélib Bike Rentals

So I got a letter from Bruce who disagreed with my newsletter statement that American tourists would not be able to use the new Vélib bike service. Just in case any of you are also confused, here's some clarification:

Hi Heather,
My understanding of the bicycle rental program is as follows:

Users will obtain a Velib card from a Post Office, Tabac etc and leave a
refundable deposit or credit card commitment, and the cycles  can be used for up to half an
hour for free, and returned to any location.

The way it actually works is that you go to the Post, a tabac, any town hall, etc. and get the FORM, which you would then need to fill out with: your bank account number, authorization for Vélib' to automatically withdraw the deposit if you don't return the bike, and your address (the online form only allows you to choose the following countries as your residence: France, UK, Belgium, Spain, Germany). You then have to send this in to a post office box in the 'burbs along with your check for €29. They then send you your Vélib' card in about 15 days.

Thus, there is nowhere to pay a human being for the Vélib' card. And the card is only available for those subscribing for the year. 

There will also be 3 subscriptions for time periods: 1 euro per day, 5 euros for 7 days, or 29
euros for a year. It sounds as though a rider can just pick up and return as
many times as he/she chooses during the time period, which would be great for
sightseeing. A visitor could see a lot of Paris with a map and one euro!

This is not true either. Those who would like to use the 1-day or 7-day subscription do not get a Vélib' card, they simply insert their credit card (WITH the microchip) directly into the machines at the Vélib' stations. If you do not have a card with the microchip -- and US cards do not -- you cannot use these machines.


Apparently they will be available to anyone, visitor or resident. I don't
think a US credit card would be a problem, because the Velib card is issued by a
person who presumably could take a US card with a signature, or cash as a deposit.

 Again, the card is not issued by a person, but by an office after you've filled out the forms and sent in your check, automatic payment form, and something called a RIB (issued by French banks with the details of your account).

 Yes, this is a bummer for tourists, but the system wasn't set up for them. It's for the residents. And

 Also wonder what the impact will be on "Fat Tyre Bike Tours" or some of the
other bike tour operators. Fat Tyre also run Segway tours, so maybe they'll have
to concentrate more on that.

Doubt it. They offer guided tours with commentary, not just cheap bike rentals. Seems to be two completely different things.

There's a station right below my building, so I've been watching each morning for the bikes to arrive....apparently they're coming next week. Will keep y'all posted.  Thanks for the email, Bruce! Hope this clears up a few issues.