Secrets of Paris 
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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
* Christmas in Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

Calendar of Paris Events

November 7-15
The 40th 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: produce, meats, cheeses, artisan oils, wines, essential oils, herbs, teas, cosmetics, beauty products, household cleaning products, clothing, shoes, accessories, home decor, books, gardening supplies, as well as stands for environmental tourism, different green activist groups such as Greenpeace, etc.

November 12 - Seattle
Heather will be at Seattle's Paris Eastside cooking school and French boutique for the November Sip & Meet event with copies of Naughty Paris for a special price of just $27 (cover price $39). From 6-8pm, wine and nibbles, €5/person. Come say hello if you're in the area!

November 18-22
Shopping for some supplies for your creative projects? Head down to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles for the annual Création & Savoir Faire show. Scrapboooking, knitting, gardening, baking, sewing, crafts, and decorating ideas for the holidays. Entrance €13-15, €22 for the two-day pass, open 9:30am-6:30pm (until 9:30pm Friday).  

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


Calm Down, There's No Baguette Crisis in Paris

In what could probably be a regular segment called "Busting the Click-Bait Misinformation", yet another "news" story circulating in the English-speaking press about Paris needs correcting.

France fears baguette crisis as bakers allowed to take holidays (Daily Telegraph, UK)

What a pain! Parisians are facing a baguette crisis after change to French law gives bakers the summer off (Daily Mail, UK)

Paris faces 'baguette crisis' as government axes archaic law banning mass exodus of bakers (Evening Standard, UK)

SACRE BLEU! Parisians fear baguette shortage as bakers go on vacation (NY Daily News, US)

Exaggeration and fear-mongering apparently get clicks (duh, no breaking news there). As usual, they all seem to have rehashed the exact same story (typical when reporters no longer do original research), all quoting some mysterious guy, Anthony Stephinson as the expert on the subject of Parisian bakeries (he happens to be a British desiger living in Paris). No actual stats or bothering to do even the most basic research to get the facts straight.

These are the facts:

- Yes, France had a law dating back to the end of the French Revolution that would assure access to bread by requiring bakeries to alternate their summer closing times (so only half would ever be closed at any given time), and to post the address of the nearest open bakery when they were closed. Pharmacies are subject to a similar law.

- For years many French bakeries who were losing money by staying open when too many of their clients were on vacation simply closed anyway and paid the fines. 

- In 2014 the French government decided to do away with the archaic law, thus removing the bureaucratic nonsense of having to enforce it, and allowing the bakers the freedom to decide for themselves what would best serve their clients and their bottom line.

Editorial aside: This is what should be getting headlines! 

Instead of the English-language press focusing on the newsworthy fact that France has modernized and streamlined their laws to give French boulangers the right to make their own business decisions, they look for the negative angle. And when there isn't one, they just make it up.

- Not only did half of the bakeries in Paris stay open anyway (particularly in any areas where there are tourists or a majority of the locals who stay and work all summer), the danger is that they still have too many unsold baguettes, not a shortage.

The French press had a lot of fun discrediting the badly-researched articles:

- Plenty of bread in Paris: French media deny reports of 'baguette crisis' (RFI English Version)

- Don't panic, there is no 'baguette crisis' in Paris! (Du Bon Pain)

- Tous les Boulangers du quartier fermes au mois d'Août, c'est normal (BFM TV, in French

- Non, Paris n'est pas menacée par une pénurie estivale de pain (Le Figaro, in French)

Cet été, les boulangers parisiens partent en vacances quand ils veulent (Le Parisien, in French)

- The France-based British tabloid The Local also "reported" on the supposed crisis with a whopping one reader quoted as proof of the "crisis", but had to "amend" their article due to all of the mocking by none other than Buzzfeed, who actually did their own research (I can't believe I'm saying anything nice about Buzzfeed) to demonstrate the sheer stupidity of this non-crisis. 

In my neighborhood at the edge of the Latin Quarter and the Butte aux Cailles, three of the four bakeries within a block have remained open all of August (two closed for a week or two in July). Within three blocks there are four more bakeries, two which are closed for two or three weeks this month. All of them are excellent, although of course I have my preferences and don't always like walking the extra block. 

Call it a First-World Problem, but don't call it a "crisis". 


Former Paris Policeman Creates Videos on Avoiding Travel Scams 

Like any large city, Paris has its fair share of scammers, pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Visitors don't need to be paranoid, but being aware of the most common tactics used by thieves will help you be prepared in case they decide to target you. 

Safety Scouts Advice is a series of animated videos created by former Paris policeman Christophe Gadenne to help visitors to Paris and other big European cities avoid becoming victims. During his five years of working with the Paris Police, he met countless distraught, traumatized tourists from around the world who had their vacations ruined by thieves and scammers, so he decided to do something about it (incidentally, Christophe also just a really nice guy, married to a friend of mine). 

There are 39 videos currently in the series (with new ones posted regularly), searchable by city or country (Paris, Italy, Spain, Berlin, and Lisbon) or by topics such as:

- The 10 worst pickpocket tricks revealed

- The 5 ATM scams to avoid while traveling

- The 5 worst taxi scams revealed

- Fake apartment rental

- Preventing female assault

- Drink spiking

- Loitering hotel thief

- Unsolicited ticket helper

- Train distraction thief

- Fake petition pickpocket

- Flat tire scam

You can also read Christophe's interview in The Guardian article, "French former policeman turns to animation to warn tourists of crime" and because you can never be 100% safe from pickpockets, be sure to re-read my article from 2011 "Do Yourself a Favor: Be prepared for Pickpockets."


Can You Wear Shorts in Paris? 

Laurent, a stylish Parisian in picnic mode.

I get asked this question a lot. Especially this summer, which has been unseasonably hot (between 85°F-102°F off and on since early July). I always answer the same way: yes, of course you can! But then I have to go into the more extended version of that answer, because it's not a simple question. 

Click to read more ...


Escape the Heat in Hidden Paris Courtyards

Everyone loves a good hiding place, especially when it means escaping the crowded, noisy, hot Parisian streets in the middle of a summer heat-wave to enjoy a cool drink in the shade. Here are two favorites in the heart of St-Germain-des-Prés

Café Da Rosa at Coiffirst

Da Rosa has opened a small café in the courtyard of the Coiffirst Hair Salon at 44 rue du Four (6th arr., Metro Mabillon). You just stroll through the salon (which is gorgeous itself with the large windows and chandeliers), and step outside into a calm little oasis of green in the brick-lined courtyard garden. There are little cakes, coffee, teas, focaccia, and other sweets for a lovely afternoon tea (items also available to go). Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. If you're more in the mood for wine, Da Rosa also has a hedged-in terrace nearby at 62 Rue de Seine (just across from GROM, which is on Da Rosa's menu so you don't have to stand in the line).  

Bar Ephémère by L'Eté de Saint-Germain 

Just for a few weeks, the historic Palais Abbatial of the St-Germain-des-Prés church, usually only open to the parish priests, is hosting an ephemeral bar in their large garden courtyard. Open daily 9:30am-10pm through August 23rd with pastries from Hugo & Victor, cheese and charcuterie platters, coffee, tea, wine, beer, live music and even a pétanque court.  L'Eté de Saint Germain at the Palais Abbatial de St-Germain-des-Prés (3 rue de l'Abbaye (6th arr., Metro Mabillon). All of the proceeds go to help fund the renovations of the church. 


Stay with a Parisian in a Real Bed & Breakfast

There's no better way to experience what it's really like to live like a Parisian than to live with one in an authentic Bed & Breakfast, aka Chambre d'Hôte in France. There are many vacation rentals in Paris, but since so many of them are remodeled in a generic fashion to be used just for weekly tourist rentals, they are usually nothing more than glorified hotel rooms without a trace of Parisian authenticity.

Staying with a Parisian as a guest is not only totally legal (most vacation rentals are not, as we're all now finding out thanks to crack-downs by the local authorities), it also means you get to actually meet and interact with a local, see how they really live, eat, and welcome guests into their home. There are few B&B's in Paris because of a general lack of space, but you can find a good selection through Une Chambre en Ville, a bilingual website approved by the Paris Tourism Office and the Federation of Professional Parisian B&Bs, with many properties awarded the Eco-Friendly B&B label. With this company, you don't need to worry about who you're staying with and the quality of the welcome because they personally check each place and act as the go-between for the hosts and guests.

They have a few rooms listed on their website's home page (click on one of the five areas of Paris to see more in each neighborhood), and some which aren't listed publicly, but are shared once you fill out a request form. The prices are reasonable, and of course always includes breakfast. There are often minimum stays, and descriptions of the language(s) spoken by the host in addition to the description of the room facilities. 


Free USB Charger at Paris Bus Shelters

Paris has been steadily rolling out the sleek new bus shelters since the spring, and all 1850 of the old ones should be replaced by the early fall. Not only do the new AbriBus shelters (which are paid for by the billboard ad compay, JCDecaux) have easier-to-read signs, better digital signs displaying the waiting times, and free USB charger ports for when your gadget starts to lose juice (be sure to carry your charger cord with you), but some of them also have green rooftops, solar panels, and even touch-screen computers with searchable maps and nearby services and activities.

Not everyone is impressed. These are bigger, taller and brighter than the old ones (urban “eyesores” for some), and in order to allow wheelchair access some are only closed on two sides instead of three, which lets in more rain and wind. Here’s a detailed complaint on (en français).