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


Les Halles Sixty Years Later

by guest contributor, Anne Daignault

In May, my visit to the Musée Carnavalet -- the City of Paris's museum of the history of Paris and its people -- nurtured a growing curiosity about the evolving political, social and  economic factors that created today’s Paris. However, it was a walk in the Forum des Halles -- the site of Paris’s central market until it was demolished in the 1970’s -- that took me out of a museum of history and landed me smack down in a construction site: a noisy, smelly, vibrant lesson about the changes in Paris over the past sixty years. 

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Some Tips on Using Vélib City Bikes in Paris

I love using the Vélib to get around Paris, especially now that it’s so nice outside (read: between sudden thunder showers it’s actually sunny and gorgeous). It looks a lot scarier to ride a bike in Paris than it feels when you’re actually on the bike. Maybe it’s the high of cruising through the capital with the wind in your hair, but it’s very quickly addictive.

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Summer Food & Fun at Grand Train 

One of the most interesting Paris events of the summer is Grand Train. Opened within a disused SNCF train depot in late April, Grand Train features 2000m² of covered halls, courtyards and outdoor space filled with over a dozen bars and eateries, lounge chairs and picnic tables, pétanque courts, a food garden and chicken house, vintage locomotives and different exhibitions about the history of the SNCF (French National Railway, a partner of the event), fuss ball tables, big screens showing fils and even Euro matches, a children's playpen, and daily events such as live music, a craft market, epicerie, yoga sessions, tattoo and barber shop, kids' activities, massage booth, gardening courses, book readings, etc.

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Changes to Paris Airport Bus Service

The Air France coaches that shuttled passengers between Paris and Roissy-CDG or Orly airports is now called Le Bus Direct (which is probably good because the old name made people think only Air France passengers could use it).

There are four lines with multiple stops: two to Roissy-CDG (€17 one-way), one to Orly (€12 one-way), and one between Roissy-CDG and Orly (€21 one-way). As usual there are stops at Gare de Lyon, Montparnasse, Porte Maillot and Arc de Triomphe, but now there are also stops at Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower, and La Motte Piquet. The buses have free Wifi and USB plugs at each seat. Open daily 5am-11:40pm, buy your tickets online in advance to save time.

Don’t confuse this bus service with the RATP-run RoissyBus (from Opéra for €11 one-way) or OrlyBus (from Denfert Rochereau, €7.70 one-way), which is basically a Paris city bus, so not as comfy but less expensive and possibly closer to where you want to be dropped off in Paris, and you can use your Navigo pass or 5-zone Paris pass. 


wonder.land: Musical in English at the Théâtre du Châtelet

Photo Brinkhoff and Mgenburg

Another world-class musical in English is playing at the Théâtre du Châtelet this month, wonder.land: the edgy modern-day take on Alice in Wonderland "that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives." Commissioned in partnership with the Manchester International Festival and the National Theatre, wonder.land uses a combination of live theatre and digital sets, as well as a score is by Damon Albarn (of the British group Blur), to create a very contemporary look at coming-of-age in the 21st century.

Photo Marie-Noëlle Robert

Aly is a modern British girl from a broken home being bullied at school who escapes her difficult life into a virtual world as her avatar, Alice. Here, where suddenly there is color, she meets an entire cast of misfit friends. Until a cruiel teacher confiscates her smartphone...and steals her identity. "Who are you?" the Caterpillar asks, underlining the theme of the story. 

Photo Marie-Noëlle Robert

After seeing Sondheim's Passion and then Carmen La Cubana, which I both loved, I didn't think I'd actually like this contemporary "audio-visual" show, but it was surprisingly fun and touching (not sure why I'm still surprised, but my "I don't like musicals" bias is stubbornly hard to kill).

Photo Brinkhoff Mgenburg

Throughout the show I kept changing my mind about who was my favorite character. Aly (Lois Chimimba) and Alice (Carly Bawden) are the stars, but her mother's voice is stunning (Golda Rosheuvel), Mrs. Manxome's evil glee is contagious (Anna Francolini), the and the White Rabbit (Joshua Lacey)...well, who wouldn't want to follow him? Hal Fowler's character actually morphs throughout the show from the MC to the Cheshire Cat to the Caterpillar, with an entire choir for a body. 

Photo Marie-Noëlle Robert

Through June 16th, in English with French surtitles. Tickets from €10 to €55. 


Almost Back to Normal: Sunshine and the Seine in Paris

It has been gorgeous and sunny in Paris since Monday. I went out for a morning run in the Jardin des Plantes Wednesday morning and thought I'd have a look at the level of the Seine along my usual running route on the quays, and was surprised to find cyclists and pedestrians already enjoying the Quai Saint-Bernard (5th arrondissement). 

On the Quai St-Bernard near the Batobus stop for Jardin des Plantes. 

The Resto du Coeur (soup kitchen) boat along the Quai St-Bernard back in service.

A bit of gravel and mud along the lower end of the quay.

The little amphitheatres where people dance on summer nights are still underwater. Click for the Instagram video I filmed here.

Quite a bit of mud here, but most of the flowering shrubs on the right seem to have weathered the submersion without problem.

Municipal gardeners are out planting the summer annuals now that the rain has stopped. 

Closer to Notre Dame Cathedral, the water is still above the lowest paths along the quays. 

You can see here on the right the benches peeking out from the water, which is still knee-high here across from the Ile-St-Louis. Note that the only roads that flooded in Paris were these auxiliary quays along the water. The Seine never rose above that wall on the left. Click the photo for the second video from Instagram.

This photo taken from the Théâtre du Châtelet Sunday night shows the first rays of sun shining on Notre Dame in the early evening. You can see more clearly here the pedestrian path along the river is still flooded, but the water, even at its highest level, never got close to the top of the main wall protecting the city (where you see all of the cars, buses, pedestrians).

Some cellars and the RER C, which runs rights along the river, were infiltrated by water, but the museums didn't suffer any flooding, even though as a precaution they closed for the weekend while moving crates of art works from lower level storage into the upper galleries. Sunshine predicted in Paris through Saturday, we should be back to normal in no time!