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
* Private Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

November 5-8
The boutique charity organization Emmaüs (105 Boulevard Davout, 20th) is having a "Kilo Sale" where mens, womens and childrens used clothing are sold for €10/kilo (that's a lot of clothing). Daily 11am-7:45pm. 

November 8-16
The 39th 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. There are also plenty of food stands for lunch onsite, a vestiaire, and a little shuttle from the metro Château de Vincennes to the entrance of the Parc Floral. Open 10:30am-7pm. Entry €9, but you can get a €3 discount voucher on the website to print out in advance. You can also see my article and video from my visit in 2010. 

November 8-11
The Château Vaux le Vicomte is hosting its annual Palais au Chocolat. The palace will be decorated with chocolate artworks created by some of the biggest names in chocolate. Tickets are €16.50 (€13.50 for kids 6-18), which includes access to the château and gardens and exhibits throughout the estate; you can reserve them in advance online. Open 10am-6pm.

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Secrets of Paris Newsletter #147 was sent October 31st to subscribers. Sign up here to get it emailed direct to your inbox. 

Wednesday
Jun142006

Celebrities in Paris: Leo, Chris, Vince and Jennifer

I'm not really one to follow celebrity news, so I usually have no idea who is dating who or where they happen to be staying while in Paris. Once I had to take a photo of the Paris Ritz for ELLE Hong Kong to illustrate a travel article I wrote. I was standing outside trying to get a decent pic of the main entrance, but there was a small crowd forming, ruining my view. Just as I stepped in front of them to get a clear shot, Hugh Grant and a blonde stepped out. Needless to say, my editor didn't put that photo in there. That was three years ago,and I haven't seen too many stars since then. But this week I saw four in one week.

Audioslave singer Chris Cornell was at his bar, BC (Black Calavados, 44 Rue Pierre 1re de Serbie, 8th) on Thursday night when I arrived, and about 30 minutes later Leonardo DiCaprio arrived with his entourage. No paparazzi, of course, in such a tiny place.

Then (admittedly tipped off by some friends), I saw the foxy Vince Vaughn and his girlfriend Jennifer Aniston right around the corner, going into the Plaza Athénée Hotel (Avenue Montaigne, 8th) on Tuesday. Being in Paris, it's just sooooo uncool to acknowledge stars in the street, let alone scream, throw panties, or ask for an autograph, so I just pretended I didn't notice like everyone else. But just for the record, in case I miss some essential celebrity news, could someone tell me if Chris or Vince get dumped by their ladies? ;)

 

Wednesday
Jun142006

Construction at the Jardin des Plantes

The roses have just peaked this week, but the sweltering heat of the past few days has already wilted quite a few. So I made a point of getting over to the Jardin des Plantes to see their beautiful rose garden before it was too late. The last time I had visited was in February, and the garden was a huge, muddy construction site. The works still aren't finished (supposedly by the end of summer), but there's plenty to see and smaller crowds.

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The Rose Garden is made up  of a long alley with rose-covered  archways.

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One of the stunning specimens.

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The Botanical Garden is still open (the Alpine Garden is only open weekdays).

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This tiny little froggy in the Botanical Garden was making a  lot of noise (looking for a gal froggy).


 
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Many of the alleys of trees remain open. Here you can see where new trees have been planted to replace ones lost during the heat wave of 2003.

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The historic greenhouses (this one from the 1920s) are also being renovated.

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The  central area (where there are usually gorgeous flower beds) is closed; they are installing automatic water systems, finally!

The gardens are open 7:30am until 8pm through September. The Menagerie (zoo), snack stands and the Natural History Museum remain open during construction.


Wednesday
Jun142006

Italian Week at the Place d'Italie

avenicemasks.jpgIn case you didn't see the note in the Calendar, this week is La Semaine Italienne, celebrating 50 years of "sisterhood" between the cities of Paris and Rome. There's free Lavazza coffee, €1 pasta, plenty of stands selling wines, candies, meats, and books from Italy, and stands promoting cultural organizations and clubs such as Paris Carnaval (they organize Venetian carnivals in Paris). Come check it out!

 

Wednesday
Jun142006

Vegetarian Rastas at the Marché aux Puces

aveggie.jpgThe sign said "Végétalien", but I figured it out anyway. Considering most food at the St-Ouen Marché aux Puces is either friend and served from a truck or heavy French cuisine served in one of the scruffy restaurants, it's actually kinda nice to find this Jamaican/Rasta vegetarian restaurant. There are freshly-squeezed fruit/veggie juices served in a bamboo-like cup. I had a carrot/pineapple juice.

 

There's only one special of the day, and the day I was there it was very spicey-hot steamed cauliflower with bean sprouts, followed by a carrot and cucumber salad and a slice of banana cake (no brownies, in case you were going to ask). This meal and a nice seat on a quiet terrace comes in at just €13.

 

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This is the main dish; they put the spicy stuff on the side for me. That wooden curvy thing is the spoon.

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My refreshing carrot-pineapple juice.

Zabulon is at the Marché des Puces de St-Ouen (Clignancourt), at 35 Rue Paul Bert (towards the Rue Jean Henri Fabre). Open for lunch Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

 

Wednesday
Jun142006

Cooking on the Côte d'Azur

Interested in learning how to cook typical Niçois dishes like grilled peppers, stuffed zucchini flowers, or Provençal-style tomatoes? Join one of the many informal cooking classes available in and around Nice. Read my article (appearing in the summer edition of Redhot, the inflight magazine for Virgin Express Airlines). Includes two traditional recipes to try yourself.
Wednesday
Jun142006

Gross Paris

"Gross" isn't usually a word used to describe the Eiffel Tower, but when I met with a family visiting Paris yesterday, that was the first thing out of the father's mouth. "That was gross."

It was 33°C yesterday (about 91°F). It's been about that hot since Saturday. Just a week ago it was still chilly enough that I wore a spring jacket to walk the dogs and a light scarf when going out at night. But as usual in Paris, the weather seems to go straight from chilly to sweltering. Paris is pleasant at 25°C (77°F), and tolerable up to about 29°C (84°F). Anything above that is nasty, nasty, nasty. And gross.

The family had decided to go up to the top at about 3pm, the hottest time of the day, and even though the line outside (in direct sunlight) was only 15 minutes, once inside they were squashed like sardines into the elevator with all of the other hot, sweaty bodies. 

Luckily, the weather should cool back down to "normal" Parisian summer weather of 25°C this weekend, after a few storms to cut through the humidity. Until then...don't forget to bring a parasol or handheld fan. 

To go to the top you have to switch to another elevator on the second level. The line there is long and cramped, so they skipped it and came back down. I don't recommend anyone go up in the Eiffel Tower when it's hot. I don't even recommend it when it's not hot! LOL But seriously, do remember how tightly packed you will be before heading up there.