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

Marchés de Noël - Christmas Markets are well underway! 
There are lots of them, and they're in full swing.  The two largest are opening mid-month this year:

- till January 8 on the Avenue des Champs Elysées
- till December 27 at the Esplanade de La Défense

Other Christmas Markets will be opening around Paris in December, see the full list (en françaishere. Click through to our full calendar to get more details.  

December 15-early January 
All of the Manèges, aka Carrousels de Paris, in the 3rd through 20th arrondissements of Paris are free for children for the holidays (my favorite is in the Jardins du Trocadéro, but the lines are longest). See the full list here. Open daily 11am-9pm.

December 7-11
Winter is circus time in Paris! Lots of options--for example the Cirque du Soleil (Dec. 7-11) with this year's Varekai performance. At the Accorhotels arena (12e), seats from 37€ to 80€. But there are lots of others. See the complete list for other circus and circus-like spectacles. 

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 Naughty Paris Guide!

Since so many of you have been asking, the Naughty Paris Guide is currently in production mode. Just got the cover from the designers today! Woo hoo! Stay tuned for the launch date, estimated May 2008...



Ringing in the Smoke-Free New Year with Absinthe and Parisian Punks

After drinking more than my weight in Champagne over the holidays (okay, that's not that hard), I decided to give up drinking for 2008. I was doing great until I was invited to an absinthe tasting last weekend at a local punk bar, Le Cantada II. How could I resist?

It was my first outing this year, and as I walked past the bars, cafés and restaurant of the Oberkampf district, I couldn't believe that it was actually true what I was seeing: all of the Parisians were smoking outside. Even though it's cold and raining, the terraces are packed full. I arrived at Cantada II (13 rue Moret, 11th), where goths, punks, and other mohawked misfits were also smoking outside the door. Inside the wonderfully smoke-free bar, I immediately spotted my group, looking slightly out of place among the regulars.

Adrian, Daniel, Louisa, Olivier et moi

Among the gang are a few familiar faces, including pastry chef and cookbook writer David Lebovitz (on a much needed break from finishing his latest manuscript), "Mister Wine Tasting" Olivier Magny, restaurant reviewer and palace hotel concierge Adrian Moore, and Spring owner and chef Daniel Rose. Our hosts for the evening are food journalist Louisa Chu (you've probably seen her hosting food shows on American TV) and our absinthe expert (and maker) Peter Schaf.

Absintheur Peter (and his wife behind the dripper).

Not only does Cantada II have the largest selection of absinthes in France (each one has its own unique taste), it also has all of the cool accessories, including the water dripper, slatted spoons and the right glassware. Peter brought a few bottle from his own collection for us to try, including a 100-year-old bottle made before the absinthe prohibition (the ban was lifted in France in 1992, FYI). As the glass was passed around, I asked "Anyone here have a cold?" But David pointed out that the 70% alcohol content would probably kill any germs anyway. Of course, he and Olivier were drinking wine, sheesh!

David, looking particularly wicked with those glowing devil horns.

After our tasting (it doesn't take much!) a few people decided to try the bar's "Medieval cuisine". I thought I'd have a peek before ordering myself. Well, it smelled good....

Ye olde grub (some sort of game stew).

Tried without the flash to see if it looked better...

"Get a close-up photo," says Olivier. Yeah...

I ate up the street at Nono instead. ;-)



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!)