About Secrets of Paris

Created in 1999, the Secrets of Paris is the oldest independent and locally-owned website about Paris in English, for both visitors and residents. Discover what you've been missing:

* Free Resource Guide
* 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 19
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 Ice Hockey, though it will be less brutal than the NHL!

January 11 - February 21
The annual winter sales, aka Les Soldes. Honestly, the rules about when and how sales can take place in France since the economic crise have essentially made the sales irrelevant. There are sales all of the time now (often called "promotion" or "7 Jours BHV" or something like that). 

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

Tuesday
Mar042008

An Ode to Heather's Beret

So I go to this party last night, and it's cold and raining outside so I wear my hat. I have a lot of hats, but I seem to favor one more than the other: my beret.

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Last night at the Experimental Cocktail Club soirée.

Such a cliché, isn't it, wearing a beret in France? I remember when I first arrived in August 1995, and a friend from home was teasing me, "So, you gonna buy a beret?" "Ha! Not!" was my reply. But then winter came, a particularly cold winter where it snowed, and with it the worst transportation strikes since May 1968. The flu was going around, and living in a big city for the first time in my life, I was a germ magnet.

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At the Marché aux Puces, 2005.

So I needed a hat. Specifically one that would keep my ears warm during the long walks to school each morning, that wouldn't blow off from the wind, and preferably wouldn't squash my head too much. I tried on every hat in town, and ended up buying my black wool beret on the Rue Mouffetard in November 1995.

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With the puppies in Avignon, 2000.

I have lost this beret in every bar, metro car, coat check room, and friend's apartment in Paris. Somehow it always finds its way back. I've tried many other hats over the years, and either they didn't fit well, blew off my head into the Seine (happens more often than you'd think), went out of style, gave me frizzy hair, or didn't look very good after being stuffed into my purse or thrown in the washing machine. So I always end up back with my beret.

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In front of the Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris, 2005.

"You look so French," say some of my tour clients. Sort of embarrassing when they say that. French people actually *do* wear berets, particularly the women in Paris. Only old men in the countryside tend to wear them. Only tourists wear ones that have "Paris" embroidered on the rim.

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A Parisian demonstrating the proper way for French men to wear a beret (hand-rolled cigarette and baguette obligatoire), 2004.

So last night at this party a guy couldn't help but comment on how he found my beret totally sexy and stylish.  Actually he said the opposite, but I refuse to repeat it. I don't want my beret's feelings to be hurt, it may not come back next time I lose it! "It's 13 years old," I  said. "Practically vintage." If I didn't have actual work to do today, I could probably dig up a few photos of my beret in its early years, touring the Loire Valley, keeping me warm in Minnesota, looking worldly in Budapest...for now here just a few digital pics from the past 8 years.

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On the "T" in Boston, 2006.

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When the heat died in my apartment, 2007.

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 I love my beret so much, that there's even a silhouette of a woman wearing one on the cover of Naughty Paris!

Monday
Mar032008

Can Ex-Patriots Be Trusted with the Vote?

Check out this essay by Gary Lee Kraut (published on his website, Paris Revisited). It brilliantly describes what it's like to be an expatriated patriot.

Saturday
Mar012008

Gettysburg Pennsylvania has nothing to do with Paris

But I'm going to tell you about Gettysburg Beat anyway, because it's my mom's very first website -- go Mom! -- and I've been trying to convince her to write about her town for years. She's going to be mortified to find out I put the link here. "But it's not done yet!" LOL! My website hasn't been "done" since I put it up eight years ago! ;-) 

She's a bit shy, but if any of you are going to Gettysburg for the big Civil War battle reenactments this July, tell her I sent you and you'll get the real insider's scoop and a southern welcome!


Thursday
Feb282008

Guided Tour of the Paris Film Sights

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The new Cedric Klapisch film, Paris, just came out last week, starring two of my favorite French actors, Romain Duris (sigh...) and Juliette Binoche. Even if you have to wait for the DVD to see it with English subtitles, you can still enjoy the Parisian scenes throughout the film, and there's even a *bilingual* self-guided tour of all the best sights in the film that you can printout from the Mairie de Paris website.

Sunday
Feb242008

Versace Fashion High Tea at Le Bristol

FashionteaBristol1.jpgLast weekend I went with my friend Sylvia to the Fashion High Tea at Le Bristol, one of the city's historic palace hotels. Every month they host a desinger fashion show in the elegant tearoom overlooking the private gardens. This time it was Versace's new spring/summer collection. You have to reserve in advance, since there's limited seating available. For €50 you get the show as well as tea, a platter of mini sandwiches and pastries. For the event, we even got a special Versace pastry and chocolates in a beautiful box to take home.

The next Fashion High Tea will be March 1 at 3:30pm, the designer Salta, and March 22 will be Elie Saab. Check the website calendar for future dates (look under "news" at the bottom of the page).

 


Wednesday
Feb202008

BHV Sous-Sol Gains a Map, Loses a Café

The famous Sous-Sol (basement level) at BHV (Bazaar de l'Hôtel de Ville) reopened recently, and it does indeed seem much easier to see than it was before. In fact, there are even SIGNS and a MAP!

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I was almost sad thinking of how I'll never get lost again amongst the towering aisles of bolts and faucets and garden pots, with nary a salesperson in sight. But as I'm looking at the map, I quickly realized the Bricolage Café was no more...so sad. It was a cute little place decorated to look like an old tool shed, a great place to catch a bite and recover from the trauma of being lost for days in that basement!