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

May 13-16
The 27th annual Artists' Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (11th, 19th & 20th arrondissements). It's a great chance to see some neighborhoods tourists don't normally see, to meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! Pick up a map and program at the Espace Jordain (3 rue Jean-Baptiste Dumay, 20th, M° Jourdain). Free entry. Open 2-8pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. 

May 21
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 12th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until midnight...for free! Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum.

May 21-22
Attention equestrian fans: it's time for the one of the legendary horse racing events in Paris, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at the Hippodrome d'Auteuil (16th). There will be food trucks, snack stands and you can also dine in the panoramic restaurant overlooking the racetrack. Tickets are €8. 

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


Gibus Club 40th Anniversary This Weekend!

The Gibus is a popular dance club in Paris that has managed to survive four decades of changing musical tastes from Punk to French rock to electronic music and hip hop. Friday and Saturday night, midnight until 6am, entry €20 (free for ladies until 1am, print out the pass on their website). Sunday night from midnight until noon, free entry all night.


Get "heckled" at the Quai Branly

I love it when the English translation of PR French can get a good laugh out of me. This week's winner is the Quai Branly museum's website (funny bits in bold):

"Dedicated to African, Asian Oceanian and american civilizations the Quai Branly museum, gather more than 3000 works. Created with the initiative of Jacques Chirac, and constructed by the architect Jean Nouvel, the museum is made of four distinct buildings. At the museum outside, visitors are heckeld by 29 colorated "boxes". Each one gather works from the same origin, to discover in details the identity of one culture or one population.
Free access gardens are around the museum, to make differents people meet each other."


Rugby & French Lessons...a good laugh!

In view of France's defeat to the English in last night's World Cup Rugby match (ahhh...nice and quiet around here, at least), I thought this ad on the C'est So Paris website quite amusing. This is a British company promoting travel to Paris. Even funnier are the four French language lesson commercials (here's one below):



Planning New Year's Eve in Paris

I've already had at least three inquiries about where to spend New Year's Eve in Paris. It certainly seems like a good idea to start planning now, but in reality, it's just too early. Most Parisians don't even know what they're doing until maybe a couple of weeks in advance, and only the most touristy (or commercial) restaurants have their menus posted (like Brasserie Flo and Chez Clément...not two places I'd recommend for the night). The Eiffel Tower restaurants are not even taking reservations that far in advance.

Some things to keep in mind:

- The majority of restaurants will be open (the smaller, family-owned places are most likely to be closed).

- Almost every single restaurant that is open on the 31st will have a special, set menu for the night, usually very pricey.  

- Try and stay close to your hotel (or wherever you're staying), because after midnight the metros, RERs and busses will be packed beyond belief (and this is Christmas again for pickpockets), and taxis will either be impossible to find or will be stuck in traffic.

- If you can brave the cold (and one never knows how cold it will get these days), the best way to pass the evening is to pack a picnic and a bottle of Champagne (don't forget glasses) and find a place with a view of the Eiffel Tower (NOT on the Champ de Mars...unless you love crowds).

- Clubs and bars will also usually have a special New Year's Réveillon soirée (BTW it's also called "Saint Sylvestre" in France) that will not be cheap. You could also just join the revellers on the Champs-Elysées or along the pedestrian  bridges of the Seine.

- Make sure you're standing near someone cute at midnight...there will be a lot of kissing -- bisous, or air kisses, that is!

Start calling restaurants or checking clubbing websites around the first week of December. I'll start posting anything I see here on the site.  


Things People Do in the Metro

I usually try not to pay too close attention to what other people are doing in the metro. I do what I do, which is: a) read, b) look at my map to figure out where I'm going, c) listen to my MP3 player, d) sleep (or pretend I'm sleeping), e) try and discreetly check my hair in the glass reflection, or f) look for eye-candy to distract me.

But once in awhile I actually notice some bizarre things. And I don't mean the usual bizarre things, like people making out or drunks throwing up or gypsy kids pick-pocketing tourists. I mean things that enter into the personal hygeine realm...

For example, putting on eye-liner. I can't even do this in my bathroom without smudging, let alone on a crowded, moving metro. But whatever. It doesn't make others cringe (unless maybe an eye got poked out in the process...that would be gross). But last week I heard a noise (it was an MP3playerless day) that, at first, I thought sounded *exactly* like...clipping. NAIL clipping, to be precise. It's such a distinct noise. But ewwww....how gross is THAT in public? Couldn't possibly be that. I turn around. Yes it could. And it was. Ewww.

And only two days later, different metro line, I hear another familiar noise. Zzzzzzzzzzz.....So familiar, yet completely out of context. For a moment I think it's an electric razor, but then again, there are so many electric devices that buzz. I turn around. Apparently if there was ever a game show for "name that hygiene routine sound", I'd win. A guy was actually shaving his FACE on the metro.

Now I know why metro workers go on strike.



New Shops...

I always notice new boutiques while giving tours, so I don't always get a chance to go in (and I've given up the idea that "I'll go back when I'm not busy.") This month I saw that a boutique called Liberty opened in the Jardins du Palais Royal...I thought it was Liberty of London, but I didn't get a chance to have a closer look, and I can't find any information online that the brand has any locations in France. It's right by my gym, so I will get back there soon to confirm, but if anyone else has the scoop, do tell.

One shop that I will  definitely be checking in on soon is the Nine West shop at the top of rue Boissy d'Anglas, 8th (right off the Place de la Madeleine). Nine West isn't a big deal in the US, but for those of us who can't get to NY as often as we'd like, it's very promising indeed to finally get a boutique here (whether the prices remain affordable after their cross-Atlantic journey is another story...Guess bags are obscenely priced here compared to what they cost Stateside).

I did manage to get inside the new multi-brand shop, Le 66 (at 66 ave des Champs-Elysées). It's right next to Guerlaine, but you'd almost miss it because the entrance is quite discreet, shared with Benetton. You go inside and past a sort of fishbowl section with books and a few of the latest arrivals, and then down some steps is the shop. There are men's and women's clothes and accessories, arranged by designer (many up and coming labels, as well as French brands like BA&SH and Antik Batik). Some cool things, very unique for the Champs, which is usually chains (Gap, Zara, Mango, etc). Unfortunately, the basement-like atmosphere was a bit oppressive after awhile and I had to go (maybe it was a low blood sugar moment....maybe I'm already sick of the slouchy clothes of the season).