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
* Travel Writing Workshops
* 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

May 13-16
The 27th annual Artists' Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (11th, 19th & 20th arrondissements). It's a great chance to see some neighborhoods tourists don't normally see, to meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! Pick up a map and program at the Espace Jordain (3 rue Jean-Baptiste Dumay, 20th, M° Jourdain). Free entry. Open 2-8pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. 

May 21
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 12th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until midnight...for free! Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum.

May 21-22
Attention equestrian fans: it's time for the one of the legendary horse racing events in Paris, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at the Hippodrome d'Auteuil (16th). There will be food trucks, snack stands and you can also dine in the panoramic restaurant overlooking the racetrack. Tickets are €8. 

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


French Flags and Official Symbols

Updated on Monday, February 29, 2016 by Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

Have you ever seen a flag or symbol while walking around Paris that you didn't recognize? Here’s a little primer on the ones my tour clients ask me about most often. Some are fairly common and others may be unknown to even regular visitors to France.

Click to read more ...


Our Widespread Lack of Trust in Travel Writing 

By Secrets of Paris contributing editor Bryan Pirolli

Trust is a tricky thing when traveling. Between the stories from your cousin Kathy, your new Lonely Planet, and those endless lists printed from the web, it’s hard to know which sources get it right when it comes to a destination. It’s especially difficult for a place like Paris and its endless amount of blogs, books, and websites.

How can you actually trust anything you read? This was a central question in my PhD thesis at the Sorbonne (don’t worry, I’m not about to get all academic on you here). The answer, however, was relatively clear after an online questionnaire with over 230 people and multiple interviews with writers and tourists in Paris: Travelers don’t ultimately trust any single source.

Click to read more ...


A Fun Fashion Week Event for Normal People

In case you missed all of the hype, Paris Fashion Week is March 1-9. Most of the city’s trendy bars, stylish hotels, and designer concept stores will be overrun by fashion bloggers, models and editors dressed in outrageous outfits that only the fashion world understands. Enjoy the street scene, because regular plebes can’t actually get into the catwalk shows. 

But if you want to check out a fun alternative, head over to L’Archipel a charitable association housed in an amazing 19th-century convent near Gare St-Lazare. Although dedicated to assisting single mothers, they also host many events for the general public to raise funds and awareness in the spirit of solidarity, including yoga classes, knitting workshops, concerts, Sunday brunch in the former nave, and a Saturday "troc" to swap clothing (men’s, women’s or kids), accessories, books, CDs, DVDs, etc. (you get a credit for the Troc Shop for every item you bring). 

On Saturday March 5th Singa will be hosting an inclusive Fashion Show at l'Archipel from 2-6pm, where anyone can participate as a stylist, model, DJ or photographer, with hair and make-up by beauty school students and a photo booth to immortalize your look (sign up if you want to participate). If you just want to watch, the actual show is from 3-4pm, and while waiting you can check out the Troc Shop (bring your used items if you want to trade) or enjoy an organic smoothie from the bar; open noon-7pm. 


All about the Paris Food Markets: A Video Interview with Paris Paysanne Founder Emily Dilling

Emily Dilling is a California native who has been living in Paris now for almost a decade, where she’s become known for her blog and podcast Paris Paysanne (rough translation: Parisian Peasant) which covers the local farm-to-table and craft production movement in Paris. She has interviewed and written about the markets, farmers, and chefs as well as craft beer brewers, natural wine producers and local coffee roasters.

In late fall her new book came out, “My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes”, including 60 recipes you can make anywhere and a collection of all of the wonderful people, restaurants, and markets she has written about since starting Paris Paysanne.

Emily has recently migrated to the French countryside (in the Loir-et-Cher region just south of Paris), but she agreed to meet with me while in Paris last month for an interview. We originally were going to film in the Marché Bastille, but since it was pouring rain and rather chilly we decided to take shelter in the nearby Café de l’Industrie for a chat. Enjoy the Parisian café ambience (and some groovy jazz tunes…the sax calms down after a few minutes) while Emily reveals some insider tips to the Parisian markets, including:

* How to spot the real farmer’s market stands among the other fruit and vegetable sellers
* Why some family farms opt out of the “organic labeling
* Where to find the three main organic markets: Batignolles, Raspail and Brancusi
* Some of the exotic fruits at the Marché Barbès
* Why you should get in line behind the old ladies at the markets
* Some of the myths about Parisian food (and the coffee)
* And a peek inside her book!


And don’t miss the latest episode of her podcast, Paris Paysanne Podcast Episode #10: Women in the Kitchen, Countryside Living, and the Parabere Forum where she talks to chef Alix Lacloche about healthy comfort food and women in the kitchen, Haven in Paris founder Erica Berman about leaving Paris for the countryside, and Maria Canabal, founder of Parabere Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing women's voices and views in the world of gastronomy. 

Fresh from the farm, at the Marché Bastille with Emily Dilling. 


The Forgotten Black Heroes of D-Day

"They stormed Omaha and Utah Beaches early on June 6, 1944. They've been written out of history. Movies don't show them. Most books don't mention them. But they were there." Watch the video to learn more about the men of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion. 

Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War is the riveting story about the African-American soldiers who landed on the beaches of France on D-Day, virtually written out of history, their faces missing from iconic WWII films such as Saving Private Ryan. This well-researched book not only covers the military history, it also takes a hard look at race relations in the Jim Crow South and the sad lack of recognition these brave men were denied when they returned home. 

American journalist and author Linda Hervieux, former editor of the New York Daily News now living in France, first learned about the 320th in 2009 when she attended a ceremony in Normandy for the 65th anniversary of D-Day awarding one of the soldiers from that African-American unit the Legion of Honor, France's highest honor. This began Hervieux's long and detailed research into the other men of the 320th that would eventually become the book Forgotten, published in fall of 2015 to much critical acclaim.

"Forgotten is an utterly compelling account of the African Americans who played a crucial and dangerous role in the invasion of Europe. ... The story of their heroic duty is long overdue." – Tom Brokaw, best-selling author of The Greatest Generation

"Hard to believe this story hasn’t been written before. Linda Hervieux’s Forgotten is essential, fiercely dramatic, and ultimately inspiring. All Americans should read this World War II history, which doubles as a civil rights primer, to learn the true cost of freedom." – Douglas Brinkley, best-selling author of Cronkite

I joined a fully-packed audience for the presentation of her book at the American Library of Paris earlier this month, and I doubt there was a dry eye in the room after she shared their stories with us. One of the most inspiring was about Corporal Waverly B. Woodson Jr. of West Philadelphia, a medic with the 320th.

You can read an excerpt from the book about his heroism and the many lives he saved on the beach that fateful day despite his own injuries, heavy firing from the Germans, and the slowly rising tide. But although Woodson was nominated America's Congressional Medal of Honor, no African-Americans would receive their own nation's highest honor in WWII. There is now an online petition to award Woodson the honor posthumously (he died in 2005).

Another fascinating part of her presentation were the stories of how kindly the African-American soldiers were treated in the small Welsh town where they were stationed before the invasions, and the friendships they formed with the locals who welcomed them into their community. Linda is currently touring the US for the book this February and March (including Washington, DC; the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia; Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; and Harvard Law School in Massachusetts). 

The publisher is also offering the Kindle eBook version of Forgotten for just $1.99 during Black History Month (February). For more information about the men of the 320th, progress on the Medal of Honor petition, author appearances and news about the book, sign up for Linda Hervieux's free mailing list here.


Parisians Get a Citizenship Card

The Mairie de Paris (City Hall) just announced a new “Carte Citoyenne-Citoyen de Paris” or a Paris Citizenship Card, free for any resident of Paris – of any nationality and at least 7 years old – “to promote civic pride and reaffirm adherence to the values of the French Republic”.

Some people may think it’s little more than a feel-good publicity stunt aimed at making the city’s multicultural kids feel more a part of the community, but I think it never hurts to err on the side of inclusion from an early age.

So what does this card actually do? It allows access to a diverse schedule of special events hosted by the City of Paris such as concerts, guided visits of municipal services and sights such as the Hôtel de Ville, official launches and sporting events, educational workshops and other interesting ways of making Parisians feel like they’re a part of the local community, and of course it’s also a way for City Hall to show off all the ways they’re working for the people of Paris (the entire spring schedule is already posted online).

The cards will be given automatically to school kids, but you can get yours by simply filling out the form online. Note: this card has nothing to do with the French naturalization process and has no legal value.