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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
* Christmas in Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

Calendar of Paris Events

November 7-15
The 40th annual Salon Marjolaine, the largest organic fair in Paris, takes place this week at the Parc Floral (Bois de Vincennes) with 550 stands selling everything organic you could imagine: produce, meats, cheeses, artisan oils, wines, essential oils, herbs, teas, cosmetics, beauty products, household cleaning products, clothing, shoes, accessories, home decor, books, gardening supplies, as well as stands for environmental tourism, different green activist groups such as Greenpeace, etc.

November 12 - Seattle
Heather will be at Seattle's Paris Eastside cooking school and French boutique for the November Sip & Meet event with copies of Naughty Paris for a special price of just $27 (cover price $39). From 6-8pm, wine and nibbles, €5/person. Come say hello if you're in the area!

November 18-22
Shopping for some supplies for your creative projects? Head down to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles for the annual Création & Savoir Faire show. Scrapboooking, knitting, gardening, baking, sewing, crafts, and decorating ideas for the holidays. Entrance €13-15, €22 for the two-day pass, open 9:30am-6:30pm (until 9:30pm Friday).  

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


The Paris-Paris New Year


As many of you know, the New Year doesn't always start January 1. In France some would argue it starts in September. In Chinatown it starts February 18. At the Paris-Paris club it was officially celebrated last night with a private party for all off the Ullmann Cabarock regulars (hey, don't blame me if you weren't invited; how many times have I told you to check out the Ullmann Cabarock bands on Tuesday night?!)

Nicolas, aka "N", introduces the evening's entertainment.

Nicolas wouldn't tell anyone who was playing, just that it was someone who usually sells out Bercy stadium. So like good acolytes we all showed up on time (for once) and the teeny club was packed by 10pm. There was an amazing woman who opened (I know her name was Anna, but I didn't catch her last name), and then Nicolas announced our surprise of the night: Mathieu Chedid, aka "M".

The superstar of the evening, "M".

Now, if you're French or listen to Le Mouv' (and you *should* if you want to hear any decent French rock music), you probably know M, since he is one of the biggest rock stars of the moment. I know most of his songs from the radio, but have to admit his Eddie Munster on Crack hairdo thing has always freaked me out a bit. Thankfully, last night he came onto stage 'au naturel' -- who would have guessed such a hottie was hiding under all of that hair gel?!

"M" and Adanowsky on bass.

I have to say that the evening was probably one of the best I've had in Paris in a long time. The sound was perfect, the crowd in an ecstatic mood (rare for the cool and collected Parisians), and M was just simply fabulous. He has a really personable connection with the audience, and kept asking the light people to turn up the room lights so he could see us (keeping in mind that the club is smaller than most American living rooms). Usually the French go a tad overboard on the "emotion" when they sing, but M manages to avoid the sap trap that most fall into. By the middle of the first song the crowd was pushing so much to see (I was about two people away from the mini-stage) that I could only stand on one foot at a time. Thankfully people seemed to be smoking less than usual (we were so close people's hair would have surely caught on fire), and the concert went on for about three hours.

Dick Rivers -- a calm moment before he gets everyone dancing to Hound Dog.

Other performances were by Oxmo Puccino, Arthur H, the 60s French rock legend Dick Rivers, and Adanowsky. Nicolas did one of his karaoke favorites, and finally it turned into a huge jam session towards the end, with M calling up his friends out of the audience to play (sorry, didn't catch their names). Nicolas's adorable mom even came  -- considering how young she looks, Nicolas must be 18! Afterwards while we were all at the bar, I saw M's girlfriend, none other than the elfin French actress Audrey Tautou (we go way back).

Puccini starts the jam session.

Adanowsky (and the famous Mr. A in neon).

There was a DJ playing for the rest of the evening, so people were dancing, but I had an early appointment, so around 4am I thought I should probably get to bed. But I lost my little coat check ticket during the night (d'oh!) and had to convince the coat check girl to let me go in and find it (she wanted me to wait until the end of the night). Thankfully I had left my metro pass (with unflattering photo) in the pocket so I could prove it was mine. They are actually very nice, the Paris-Paris staff -- just make sure you're on that list for next time!!

Video of M singing with Anna (above) and Dick Rivers singing with M and Adanowski (below). 



Paris Nightlife and Rubber Balls Don't Mix (Illustrated Version Part II)

The outdoor "bar" at La Miroiterie

On Saturday I go back out into the now cold, wet, and windy Parisian night with my friend Laura to check out a punk concert at La Miroiterie (88 rue de Ménilmontant, 20th). This is an artist's squat up in the Belleville district, predictably covered in graffiti and concert flyers. They started doing rock/punk concerts about a year ago, but I hadn't made it to any until tonight. It's supposed to start at 5pm (I was hoping to get home early), but we get there at 7pm and it still hasn't started. Of course. So we pay our €5 and get an "X" on our hand. I almost expected a plastic cup for the keg, considering the average age group there. Concerts are held in a big cardboard (okay, maybe wood) box that's soundproofed to keep the neighbors happy. Outside is a guy selling vintage records on a folding table, and a bar that we'd hang out at if it weren't outside in the freezing, wet, windy night. So we wait inside the box. The smokey box. Teenagers and young 20-somethings (some were probably older, but it was hard to tell) in black grungy clothes have nothing to do while waiting but smoke. The band finally comes on and spends a bit of time setting up. "Sorry, we had to go to Montreuil for a battery" says the singer. They look about 18. I can't recall the name or why I even wrote the date on my calendar (it has been there a long time), but they actually turned out to be quite good. Well, I liked the music. The singing was of the screaming metal genre that I find hard to get into. But we admire their energy.
Band playing in the "box" at La Miroiterie January 19.

Soon after we get the munchies, so we head off in search of something edible along the street of kebab, coucous and panini shops. We pass Manhattan Pizza and it smells so good we go in. They don't take credit cards. We continue and find California Pizza further down the street. They don't take cards either, so we end up going all the way down to the bottom of the hill to get cash, then try to find a different pizza place (we REALLY wanted pizza at that point) without going back up the hill. We go as far as Père Lachaise cemetery, and only find Pizza Hut (take-away only). I'm frozen all of the way through and so delirious with hunger that I don't care where or what I eat at this point, but poor Laura -- who you recall I've drug all over town at this point -- seems to have her heart set on California Pizza (she's from the Bay Area, of course). So we go all the way back to Ménilmontant and up the hill, get two small pizzas and Cokes (so much for the healthy food diet) and go eat them in the metro station because it's the only warm, dry spot to eat. I feel a billion times better afterwards, and life is good. We take the metro home and my dogs finally get their dinner and walkies at 10pm.

Sunday I do penance for my sins with a trip to the organic produce stand at my local market. I make some veggie juice back home and then head to the gym for something called Swiss Ball class. It's basically like Pilates (ie ab torture) but on top of giant rubber balls. I want to bounce around on it but there's no handle. Those of you who grew up in the late 70s know what I'm talking about. My muscles are still stiff from Thursday, and you need those muscles to be able to stay "balanced" on the ball while doing crunches, push ups, obliques, and levitating somersaults. I'm very pleased to see that I'm not the only one who keeps sliding off my ball. I think goals are good when you go to the gym. My new goal is to be able to just stay *on* the ball for one entire class. Whether I can stay on *and* do crunches at the same time while flexing my abs and breathing properly...well, there's always 2008.

baron1.jpgThat night I drag my friends Jeff and Gentry to Le Baron (6 ave Marceau, 8th) for karaoke night. Both of them are transplanted Americans who have been in Paris several years, but they've never been before. Only I know how much super duper fun we're going to have. We arrive just as it opens at 11pm (essential if you want a decent seat near the "stage") and chat with the organizer Nicolas Ullmann (that's me and Nicolas on the left) while waiting for the band to set up. Entry is free to Karaoke night, and drinks are about €7-€12. Coat check is surly, but highly recommended because the tiny club fills up quickly with people and -- can you guess at this point? -- smoke.

Nicolas on back up vocals, Daniel on guitar.

Karaoke with a live band is a completely different experience than with pre-recorded music. If you suck, the band will play a bit louder. If you need a shot of whiskey mid-song, you can signal a drum or guitar solo. And of course, it's nice not to be up there all alone! The band at Le Baron is excellent. And, even to my surprise, so are most of the singers. We heard Prince's "Kiss" and James Brown's "Sex Machine" (followed by a moment of silence) amazingly done in the correct octaves. A preppy guy sang an excellent rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love"   -- and I'm very demanding when it comes to my favorite band! -- and another did Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name". Awesome!  But of course the Best Performance Award goes to Gentry, who sang "These Boots Were Made for Walking" along with all of the appropriate dance moves. As most people know, in karaoke it's the "show" that's important, not the voice (most of us were singing along to loudly to hear the lyrics anyway). Go Gentry! (see her sing and dance here).

Star of the evening, Mademoiselle Gentry Lane (and her boots).


Since the three of us work for ourselves, we had planned on just staying an hour or so and getting to bed early. I had an appointment with my accountant at 10am to prepare for. But it was so much fun that by the time we left if was almost 4am. I would have stayed longer, but my contact lenses had fused onto my eyeballs and I had to extract Gentry from her new adoring public before they ripped her clothes off (she's still mad at me for that, but hey, what are friends for?!)

So I didn't get to the gym on Monday for obvious reasons...although I did remember to ask the accountant if hangover massages could be deducted as professional research expenses. Or maybe by the end of winter I'll have finally found the perfect balance between smokey, late nights on the town and self-inflicited torture sessions at my heavenly-scented gym. Is is possible to have both killer abs AND under-eye circles? I'll keep y'all posted.



Paris Nightlife and Rubber Balls Don't Mix (Illustrated Version Part 1)

I'm not a huge one on New Year's Resolutions, it just happened to be a coincidence that I joined the gym the same month I decided to finally finish the "nightlife" research for my latest guidebook.

I've got a huge list of places to check out: bars, soirées, clubs, etc. It can be exhausting. I have to force myself to sleep in so I can stay up past midnight (most places are sooooo uninteresting until at least 2am). I have to inhale large quantities of cigarette smoke (at least until 2008, heh heh) and try not to drink more than one cocktail if I want to get any work done (or remember what on Earth I was doing the night before). If there was ever a class at the gym for nightlife training (and there should be), my gym would have it.

I love my gym (Usine Opéra). It's never crowded, even at night and on the weekends, and it has mood lighting so I don't have to see my twiggy legs glowing under glaring fluorescent lights. Oh, and it smells good. :) It always seems like there are more trainers walking around than clients, which helps when I'm trying to figure out how to use one of the machines without pulling something. They did some sort of test on me when I first joined, and I found out I only have 16% body fat, which would explain why my fingers turn blue when the temperature in my flat goes below 22°C/72°F. So they recommended I do a bit of strength training and lay off the cardio machines (which are more fun for watching TV while working out -- they had Men in Black II on yesterday). I was doing some sort of leg lift thingy when a trainer walks by and stops to watch. "You need more weight," she says. I try and explain that my own trainer told me to start off easy so that I don't pull anything. She sorta huffs at that and asks how long I'd been coming. "This is my second day," I reply. Still, she tells me to at least add more weight for the third set. So I do, and the next day most of my body aches. I can't open the heavy iron door of my building without my pectoral muscles screaming (I use both hands, like the little old lady on the 2nd floor).

But there's stuff to do! It's a Tuesday night, which I bet you'd think would be a boring night to go out in Paris. You'd be wrong. I start off at the super-cool Hôtel Amour in the 9th (8 rue Navarin) for a reception launching IcoNoMix #2, the magazine of the contemporary art tour people, Art Process. If you're into contemporary art -- or would like to be -- these are the people to know (and Eric and Isabelle are cool cats).

Java1.jpg I couldn't stay too long because I had to make it to La Java for the Phil Nichol stand-up comedy show (organized by Anything Matters) with my friend Karen. I like La Java, a cozy little club between Oberkampf and the Canal St-Martin (at the end of a slightly seedy-looking passageway, photo on the left). The show (in English) was hilarious. Scotland-born Canadian Phil plays the guitar, sings, rants, and ends up in his birthday suit, asking us to all do the same (in the name of world peace, of course). If you live in the UK try and check out one of his shows. A good summary can be found here. If you want to see more stand-up comedy in English, check out Anything Matters' website.

The award-winning "Naked Racist" Phil Nichol, at La Java.


Afterwards, I drug Karen to the Paris-Paris to hear the Love Gods, a Franco-Australian band with some excellent catchy tunes. We were there quite late, but didn't miss a thing because the show started right on time an hour later as usual. ;) By 2am I had to shovel the smoke out of the way to get some Perrier at the bar (having already passed my two-drink limit at La Java -- where the wine and spirits are a tad more affordable). Every Tuesday night (except the 30th January) is the Ullmann Cabarock. Free entry, great bands, drinks from €10 -- just be sure to send in your name to get on the list! Luckily, it was still in the low 60s that night, so waiting for a taxi was no big deal. Gotta love global warming.

Love Gods kicking butt at Le Paris-Paris.

Slept in and barely had time to shower the smoke out of my hair on Wednesday for lunch at the Angl'Opéra Restaurant/Café (39 ave de l'Opéra, 2nd) with a cool PR woman who gave me a tour of the adjoining Hôtel Edouard VII. I went nuts (having skipped breakfast) and got an entrée, main dish AND dessert (well LOOK at it! Could YOU say no?!).

Dessert at L'Angl'Opéra.

We had such a good time chatting (we both have freelanced for the Time Out Guide) and then looking at the rooms (great balcony views over the Avenue de l'Opéra), that I ended up skipping the gym and going straight to my friend David's. He was working on a hot-chocolate-with-salted-caramel recipe and asked if I could come taste it. Despite the impending crise de foie, I waddled out of the Angl'Opéra and hopped on a metro to the other side of town. I could never turn down a friend in need. Especially one offering chocolate AND caramel!

Wednesday night was a bit more laid back. I attended a talk titled "What’s Happening on Capitol Hill" at AARO by Patricia Woods (of the Woods Institute). After all, an election year is coming up, good to keep tabs on what's going on back home.

Thursday starts off tranquil enough. I go to the gym to try out one of the Pilates classes. I had done Pilates with a friend before, but never in a class. In Paris it's relatively new and hard to find (and usually very expensive). This was one of the reasons I joined, so I show up without any idea how excruciatingly painful the following 60 minutes would be, both for my abs and my ego. Being thin doesn't mean you're in shape! If you've never done Pilates, let me describe how it goes: you contract your lower abdominal muscles until you can barely breathe, then you proceed to crunch every othermuscle around it until your "inner core" is a quivering, burning piece of pathetic meat. I wasn't sure I was breathing correctly "from my diaphragm", so I asked the instructor after class (there were only about six of us in there, like most classes). She told me to come early for the next class (in two days) and she'd work with me. I didn't make it back to the gym for three days, despite the relaxing half hour spent in the sauna afterwards trying to unclench the muscles. They were still hurting so much I couldn't laugh or sneeze without falling over in pain for the next two days. I love the gym.

The Gentlemen Dancers of Régine's "Au Bonheur des Dames" (and their willing participants)

I went home and made some pasta. That evening I had a networking meeting and then was going directly to meet with some girlfriends for the ladies' soirée at Régine's, "Au Bonheure des Dames". About half way through my meeting I started to feel "funny". A bit sick like I'd eaten a huge vanilla shake (I'm lactose intolerant, ugh). I didn't think too much about it. At 9pm I meet my friends on the Champs-Elysées and we head over to the soirée. "AU Bonheur des Dames" takes place every Thursday night. It's a FREE show open to women only from 9:30pm-11:30pm. The line-up is something like this: free drinks (we started off with Bailey's shots, moved onto wine, then cocktails, then more Bailey's), free buffet dinner (that night there was some sort of giant meatball, lentils with pork, and cooked spinach), then a free male-stripper show. It was Bridget Jones theme night so there were bunny ears on the tables for the girls' to wear. When we had drank and eaten as much as we could (I only sipped and nibbled, as the growling tummy was getting worse), the show started: there was a Cuban dancer, a Arabian Shiek, and an acrobatic Zorro who did some pretty amazing flips in the air.

Unlike the US Chippendales shows, in Paris there isn't a "no touch" rule. The male dancers pick ladies from the audience to participate in the show -- and boy do they participate! My recommendation if you want to go up there: wear pants! But not much more, because it gets very hot in there. Whoo! I have to say that we were all quite impressed with the moves. Scandalously fun!

"Let me just give you a hand with that wedgie..." (Note: That's not MY hand!)

After the show, men are allowed in and the drinks are no longer free (my Perrier cost €10, for example). But it's an attractive 'after-work' crowd of men, a bit older on average than the 25-35 age range of the women. At this point everyone was dancing. I interviewed some of the dancers. Apparently tipping isn't prohibited, but considering the smallest bill in France is €5, you rarely see it! If you'd like to go to the show, I recommend wearing the sexiest outfit you can (there's limited space, so you have to get the doorman to let you in just like a nightclub), bring €2 for the coat check, and drink fast. And invite some of your male friends to meet you afterwards for the dancing.

Feeling like I'd seen enough to write my review, I said good night to my friends and head out (the coatcheck girl handed me a real moleskine journal, a gift for the Bridget Jones theme, I'm guessing). I caught the last metro home, where I proceeded to lose the pasta lunch and everything that followed. Maybe I'm oversharing here, but I think y'all should realize that while this job is fun, it's also a job that one has to do no matter how I feel. Freelancers don't get to call in sick!I sleep the next day until 2pm, convinced I've got the gastro (stomach flu) bug going around, but after a few bananas I'm back en forme. Maybe it was the pasta sauce, camping out in my fridge for an undetermined amount of time. Maybe it was the Pilates crushing my digestive tract. Maybe my body is trying to tell me to slow down. So I stay in Friday night.

Continued in Part II... 


A Soirée in Paris

The "wobbly" building across from the Fouquet's Hotel, avenue George V. It's actually covered with scaffolding and this is a "picture" screened onto it (see how the trees and cars are "straight"?). Pretty hallucinogenic!

Okay, now that the hangover has worn off, let me tell you about Saturday night. After spending fall updating hotel listings for Fodor's and Eurocheapo, I've decided to take a break from tour guiding this month to get some research done for the Naughty Paris guide. Visiting lingerie and "naughty toy" boutiques is easy enough during the day, but I also have a huge list of bars and clubs to check out (no, not those clubs...I've got someone else researching that). Basically I'm trying to find the best night spots for the following categories:
  • sexy, low-lit bars where couples can feel like they have a bit of intimacy
  • upscale -- but friendly -- bars and clubs where women traveling solo would feel comfortable hanging out for a drink
  • stylish bars and clubs where women can meet the locals (the type of place that the Sex & the City ladies would hang out, not student pubs with beer-by-the-metre).

I already have a good list that I can count on, but it's good to check places that I haven't been in awhile, as well as test out some of the new ones that have been getting some press. But bar and club hopping tout seul isn't always very interesting. I like to have a sceond opinion, too. So I recruited a sidekick for the night.

When I tell people what I do for a living, I get a lot of offers to "help with the research". It's a good thing I always find new people to help out, because most of my cobaye (that's "guinea pig" en français) don't last very long! LOL After all, I'm not there to have fun (ie get drunk, hit on the bar tenders and dance on the tables). I'm there to work, darnit! I have to pay attention. And I have to see a lot of places in a short period of time. So here's how it went:

The Cobaye/Sidekick: Monsieur A (no, not the Monsiuer A, but a cool frenchie nonetheless!)

The List: Bar Fleur's (Marais), Soirée Loft Party (Salons du Louvre by,  Soirée Tzars (At Le Marqui/Slow Club by, Inauguration Soirée of the Galerie du Parc (near St-Sulpice, by, Le Bar (St-Germain des Prés).

Bar Fleur's

Act I: The dashing young Monsieur A arrives to pick me up at 8:30pm. We head over to Bar Fleur's (3 rue des Tournelles, 4th, M° Bastille), a very original hybrid combining an exotic florist boutique and a Champagne/Vodka bar in one place, open noon-2am. One of the owners is Russian, so they were celebrating the Russian New Year. Monsieur A and I had some Champagne and a plate of cheese/meat coldcuts. Great atmosphere, nice selection,and not too pricey (bottles of premium vodka to go could be purchased for under €20). There's currently an exposition of sketches by artist Vincent Structure on the walls. Highly recommended place for an apéro or a nightcap. Solo-female friendly (get a spot at the bar).

Act II: So we needed food, and me being American (and in "work mode") suggest we grab crêpes on the Place de la Bastille. Monsieur A, the consummate Frenchman, steers me into a proper restaurant/bistro across the street, Gaspard de la Nuit (6 rue des Tournelles) because it has a cute name and looked like it had a nice atmosphere. The decor is very old-fashioned, almost like you'd imagine your French grandma's house would look, with lace curtains and lots of dried flowers. We both had the lima bean and fig soup (yummy) and then I had ravioles (like mini raviolis) and A had the "Trio Mer" (three different kinds of fish). The food was nice, or "correct" as the French would say, and the prices not too high (about €30 per person without wine). We ended up talking about the French elections (but that's another blog) until I ordered my cappuccino to refuel for the evening and called an end to the foodie detour.

Gaspard de la Nuit

Act III: Soirées are a very popular occurrence in Paris. They're basically "private" parties organized in well-known clubs or other venues. Most are only private in that you have to pay to get in. Most have no other requirements (even if they ask you to "register" online to get on The List). I had printed out the invitations to three soirées, all €12 to enter. Two offer a glass of Champagne only if you get there before midnight. It was already 12:30am by the time we got to the Soirée Loft Party at the Salons du Louvre (just behind the Eglise St-Eustache and Montorgueil). The crowd outside seemed a bit young (I'm looking for places that a 30-45 crowd would hang out, not teens), and when Monsieur A asked about the music, they replied "general". I also hate it when people use the word "loft" for anything. The Salons du Louvre are underground, not in a loft. We hesitated, then decided to pass.

Marquis.jpgAct IV: The Tzar Soirée at Le Marquis/Slow Club seemed more promising because we both knew the venue already. Le Marquis used to be called Slow Club (the neon sign is still there), a series of old vaulted stone caves where Parisian jazz greats used to play. It was even a big rap venue in the 80 and 90s. These days it has a sexy boudoir decor of red velour divans, black chandeliers, and low lighting. We paid our €12, got more Champagne, and took a seat in the almost empty venue. "It's still early," says Monsieur A, but I can't keep from cringing at the DJs bad selection of music and even worse attempts at mixing. The small crowd that was there was very eclectic (and I don't think any of them would talk to each other under any circumstances). Monsieur A wants to dance, but I pull the plug on this evening and we head out.

Act V: I'm getting cranky at this point and don't feel like going to the third soirée on the Left Bank ("We'll see if there's any positive press about it before we go"), so that rules out Le Bar at St-Germain-des-Prés, too. I wantto dance, but not to crap music. I suggest we head over to BC near George V. On the way to the last Métro (they keep running until 2am on Saturday nights now), we pass by the Kenzo building on Rue du Pont Neuf. "Hey, let's go see if anyone is at Kong (1 rue du Pont Neuf, 1st; on top of the Kenzo boutique) tonight," I say. Monsieur A is learning to be flexible and follows along without complaint. There's a bouncer and a small group of well-dressed Parisians outside. We all go in and get into the glass elevator to go up to the 5th floor. "You're not going to eat, are you?" I ask the other in the elevator. They look horrified. "Oh non! You mustn't eat there! We're just going to the bar," they replied. So apparently nothing had changed since my last visit two years ago (or the fact that they made it into the last Sex & the City episode). The restaurant on the top floor was empty, but I showed it to Monsiuer A so he could see the famous glass domed ceiling and views over the Seine. Then we went down one flight to the bar -- absolutely packed full of 25-35 y.o. pretty things (very west Parisian-looking) -- and tried to "do a tour" (ie just walk all of the way through). It was hot and smoky, but the DJ's music was excellent and there were more than a handful of women dancing on their chairs to get above the crowd. I was tempted to stay and have a cocktail, but figured we'd probably be there for an hour just trying to get served at the bar (no different than when there's only 5 people there), so onward to the next bar.

Act VI: We hop on the night bus on the Rue de Rivoli, which takes up to George V and the BC (Black Calavados, 40 ave Pierre Ire de Serbie, 8th). I had been there several times on Thursday night (supposedly the most "rock" of all nights, and in general the best evening to go out in Paris**), but never on the weekend. It was Monsiuer A's first time. There was a giant American guy in a somewhat aggressive mood waiting to be let into the black door. When he and his three friends are escorted in, I try to follow but the doorman catches me hesitating (d'oh!) and asks if I'm invited. This is good, because he's not sure. If they just say it's a "private party", they're not letting you in. But since he asked me, of course I say yes. Well I actually say (in English), "Oh, I always just come by." He let us in. The bar was full, but not too crowded. It seemed brighter than I remembered it before (maybe too many people tripping in the black and chrome darkness), but the music was excellent as always (AC/DC, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Black-Eyed Peas, etc.) We had two Cosmopolitans -- steep at €14/each, but well made and plenty strong). The big American took off his shirt at one point, but the staff managed to convince him to put it back on "You're scaring the French people," I imagine they said).

The Final Act: It was 3:30am by the time we headed out into the damp evening to take our respective night busses home (yeah, I could have taken a taxi, but the night busses are free and they come every five minutes on Saturday night, so why not?). There was a fleet of tow trucks taking away a whole row of illegally-parked cars along the Avenue George V.


** Why are Thursdays best? Because it's when the "real Parisians" go out. Supposedly on the weekends it's when all of the tourists and suburban people come into Paris. If you're really, REALLY plugged in, then youmay have heard that Tuesday is the new Thursday. For you to decide...


Another great blog about France

Check out, a great blog written by a retired Dutchman living in the French countryside.



It's not the Rockefeller Center, but we like it

Ice skating at the Hôtel de Ville (this video shows the kiddie section...adults are in the larger area in the back), through March 4.