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

October 21-30 A bit like a smaller, cozier version of the Foire de Paris, the Foire d'Automne at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles is a trade show of food and wine, home decor, beauty and fashion, and all French arts de vivre. Open 10am-7pm, entry €9. 

October 27-29
The last big electronic music festival of the year, the Pitchfork Festival, takes place over three days at the Grande Halle de la Villette (Parc de la Villette, 19th). One-day passes €54,  three-day passes €120.

October 28 - November 1
Stuff yourself with all kinds of chocolately goodies at the annual Salon du Chocolat, at the Paris-Expo - Porte de Versailles (metro line 12), 10am-7pm. Entrance €14. You can get advance tickets online or ask at your favorite chocolate shop if they have any extra invitations. Avoid the weekend unless you're a masochist! Here are some Salon du Chocolat tips from a previous article by Secrets of Paris intern Tara Oakes. 

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


Book Review: A Town Like Paris

A%20Town%20Like%20Paris.jpgLast month I went to the launch of Bryce Corbett's book, "A Town like Paris: Living and Loving in the City of Light".

The book is a memoir about how Bryce came to Paris as a 28-year-old Australian and had a grand ol' time (like you do at that age when you're single and in Paris), except when it came to French women. He finally meets and marries the woman of his dreams, a Lido dancer who happens to be....Australian! (That's them on the cover, which looks different from the cover I've seen on the publisher's site, strangely).

The launch party, at WH Smith, had the tallest crowd I've ever seen in one place in this town (all Lido dancers and Australians, no doubt). The book is hilarious, full of adventures that Bryce and his friends experienced over the years, both fun and....not so fun -- Paris isn't always an easy place to live! Highly recommended, check it out.


Holiday Spirit at Parisian Palace Hotels

You don' have to be a guest at the city's famous palace hotels to enjoy some of their unique holiday atmosphere, the elaborate Christmas decorations -- and the certainty that they're not closed nor packed beyond belief like Ladurée.


I'm a big fan of afternoon tea at the Four Seasons George V. This season they have a special cinnamon and spice Christmas tea. I had it with a slice of banana bread, but they have a whole cartload of pastries, cakes and cookies to choose from. I also heard a rumor (still unconfirmed) that the owner is a huge cheesecake fan, so I expect their cheesecake is superb (the French are not known for being particularly good at cheesecake, so yes this is a big deal). The hotel's Christmas trees, conceived by the Artistic Director Jeff Leatham, are decorated with garlands of hot pink neon and violet balls (inspired by the American artist Dan Flavin). It certainly makes for a change from the traditional French flocking!

Elsewhere around Paris, the Ritz has a new Ritz Bar (across the hall from the Hemingway Bar), with a darker lounge club atmosphere and -- on weekends -- electro lounge music (open from 6:30pm). Although the atmosphere (and the crowd) are a bit younger than their average gilded clientele, the cocktails are still €22.

The Plaza Athénée is always a good bet for drinks at the trendy bar (evenings only). They have new touch-screen drinks menus so you can see pictures of each cocktail. For the holidays there's an ice rink in the courtyard (open until December 31) reserved for guests of the hotel (but the PR rep told us that if you dine at the hotel you'd be allowed in...perhaps hot chocolate and pastries in the Galerie des Gobelins before a spin?)

Philippe Starck has redecorated the public spaces in the Hotel Meurice inspired by one of the hotel's most renowned clients, Salvador Dali. The stained glass Art Nouveau ceiling in the Winter Garden has been replaced by a surrealist mural, the chairs are now covered in mismatched materials like cowhide, and even the piano has a bizarre surrealist shape. The restaurant has also been redone, and is now called Le Dali. Thankfully, the Bar Fontainebleau has not been changed at all, and still has a wonderfully coy atmosphere for an evening digestif.



Nightlife Updates for New Year's Eve in Paris

I've added a few reviews to the Nightlife section, including a page of soirées on and around New Year's Eve. There are also a few new dining reviews here.

Joyeux Noël from Paris! 


My Christmas Eve Dom Perignon at Closerie des Lilas.


Global warming good news for English vineyards...

I'll bet some of you think wine tasting is for boring snobs. You obviously haven't met Olivier, the Ali G of the wine world. Check out his fun and informative (and often hilarious) Wine Rendez-Vous videos (slow-loading, but worth it!)


Le Lup or not Le Lup? Help!

This weekend I had two last-minute places to visit for the nightlife section of the Naughty Paris Guide. You'd be amazed at how tempting it is for guidebook writers to include places they haven't actually visited. Sounds crazy, non? But sometimes, like you regular folks, we read really convincing reviews -- good or bad -- and make a decision from there, figuring we'll eventually get around to confirming what we've already written.

Except you should never believe a word of what you read in the press these days, since most of it is rehashed PR or shamelessly copied from someone's blog.

The places I was considering:

Bobino%20CabaretBobin'o, the city's newest cabaret, recently opened in the 14th on a colorful street of theatres and sex shops. It promised to be the biggest, sexiest show in Paris. It looked, with its transvestites and tightly packed dining tables....well, silly. Entertaining, oui, but sexy? And maybe I was Googling up the wring tree, but I could find no independent press coverage (just the same PR talk repeated over and over). Different from other cabarets, is that this one becomes a nightclub afterwards so you can stay and dance. That seemed more promising...

- Le Lup, a new restaurant in St-Germain-des-Prés open only at night (9pm-5am), with a sexy boudoir style decor and live jazzy musicians. Now this, I was very excited. Lots of glowing reviews particularly from Girl & the City. Not hard to find someone to join me for a test drive.

So Friday night I went to Bobin'O for Champagne and the show (I skipped the dinner), and I was actually happily impressed (detailed review coming soon in Nightlife section). Sexy and funny, entertaining yet sophisticated. You could say it's sexier than the Lido and Moulin Rouge, and more entertaining than the Crazy Horse. Afterwards, high on my half-bottle of Champagne (I'm a lightweight), I watched from my mezzanine booth as the house boys cleared away the tables and chairs and the cabaret slowly transformed into a huge nightclub. The tour groups of Seniors filed out, and the part crowd arrived. By 1am it was so packed that I didn't think I'd ever find my dinner escort (cell phones don't work very well in the underground space), but I had a good time dancing. The sound system is impressive.

Finally, at about 2am I ran into Fred, the King of Parisian Nightlife. This mild-mannered Frenchman, known only at his UrbanNights soirées as Lord Brett, has rarely been spotted on the Left Bank. "It's a bit far," he said of the Bobin'O. I, personally, would like him to have at least one party on my side of the Seine, so to convince him that the Rive Gauche wasn't completely gauche, I figured dinner at Le Lup would seal the deal. So we leave the heaving, thumping cabaret-club and head to St-Germain-des-Prés, just a few minutes' drive.

Le%20Lup.JPGCruising past the doorway of Le Lup at about 2am, it looks....empty. "It's closed," announces Fred. I convince him it's open until 5am and that I have even reserved, just in case. We park right next door (that there was a place to park on Rue du Dragon should have been a sign). There are about three people inside, plus about seven staff members. The band, supposedly on until 3am, have stopped, and there is some dance music that would do better back at Bobin'O.

Still, the decor *is* cool, and the food is perfectly acceptable, even for the non-tipsy person at the table (ie not moi, three glasses of Champagne and a whisky-Coke in the hole). "It will be closed in two months if it's like this on a Friday night," declares the noctambule. The nice waitress said it was busy until about 1am. But every other restaurant that's open after 1am in Paris would be packed right now.

So...here's my dilemma: deadline is this week for my text. Do I assume that Le Lup will close (or simply never do well but hobble along anyway) and leave it out? Or do I gamble that it will soon be the cool place to dine after 1am and add it to the guide? (it opened two months ago, BTW). Normally, I would go back a few more times to confirm, or "wait and see", but I have to make up my mind this week...

 Have any of you been there? C'mon folks, I give you all my dirt...time for you to give me yours. ;)


King Fred et moi testing out the gilded throne at Le Lup.


Paris Gift Ideas

Looking for some gift ideas for the Paris lovers on your list? After many of your emails over the years, I finally started making a list of recommended Paris guidebooks and Paris-themed films in my new Amazon Shop pages. I'll be adding Paris Music, Food Guides, and Gifts over the next few weeks.


Did you know you can also buy foie gras though Amazon now? Totally random....