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

April 24-May 22
April 26th is the Journée Nationale de la Déportation (National Day in Memory of the Deportation) in memory of the victims and the heros of the Nazi deportations during WWII. There are several events in Paris commemorating the solemn event, including a ceremony at the Mémorial National des Martyrs de la Déportation at the Square de l’Île-de-France (the eastern tip of the Ile de la Cité, behind Notre Dame) at 9:45am; a ceremony at the Mémorial de la Shoah (17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 4th) at 3pm; and a ceremony at the Memorial Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe at 6:30pm. 

April 25
Internationally renowned peace activist Ravi Shankar will be in Paris tonight for a presentation, "Discourse, Music & Meditation" from 7-9pm at the Maison de la Mutualité (24 rue Saint Victor, 5th), tickets €15-€50.

April 30
Paris is the host city for the 2015 International Jazz Day, with a live broadcast performance at the grand UNESCO headquarters (7th) with internationally renowned jazz artists including Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves. Other events will take place around Paris including at the Club Rayé. Check out the website for the program. And read this Guardian article for a rundown of the best jazz clubs in Paris.

Click here to see the full calendar of events...

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to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Entries in Eating & Drinking (81)

Tuesday
Jan062015

Christmas in France

A guest post by Sharon Autry (click on any photo to see the full size image).

Traveling to France is exciting anytime of the year, but going for Christmas is a vacation you won't soon forget. Paris and all of France dresses for the occasion with lights and decorations which transforms the cities and shopping areas into nothing short of a magical winter wonderland. Having just spent two weeks visiting Paris and Strasbourg, I can say my own decorating skills pale in comparison; the French know how to do it up big!

My Christmas journey began in Paris and took me through the decorated cobblestone streets where the shopkeepers put on their best look for the holiday. I visited several churches to see the Nativity scenes, and then strolled through Luxembourg Gardens. They’re sleeping until spring, but the Medici Fountain is a still beautiful even in the throes of winter.

I have been to Paris before and each time I stood UNDER the Eiffel Tower but never could convince myself to go up into it. This time I decided I would see what all the fuss was about. I highly recommend taking the elevator up because unless you carry an extra pair of legs with you, it will be a long way up and quite a muscle workout. The view from the tower – even just the second level -- cannot be beat: all of Paris is at your feet!

I took a daytrip one hour south of the city to the Chateau Vaux-Le-Vicomte, an absolute must see on your Christmas itinerary. There is nothing to compare the exquisite decorations in each and every room. If you're looking for inspirational holiday decorating ideas for your own home, this is the crème de la crème. The current owners live on the grounds in a different part of the château and as I toured the gardens and the rooms I couldn’t help but envy them for living in such a magical place.

There is a growing anticipation, I am told, every year when the private Musée des Arts Forains (aka Museum of Carnival Arts) opens to the public for the holidays. I was there when the doors opened and I can understand the enthusiastic crowds because this was one man's collection of antique carnival rides, memorabilia, statues and fun games of chance (which you can play).

The main draw of France for me was the idea of visiting the many Christmas markets that are everywhere, filled with regional foods, mulled wine, pastries and those coveted ornaments and decorations that you just can't find anywhere else. I browsed through quite a few in Paris, including the large one along the Champs Élyseés with its magical lights and people going about their gift shopping. But the ultimate destination was to Strasbourg for three days of shopping, sightseeing and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.

Strasbourg is called the Capital of Christmas, and for good reason: the very first Christmas Market opened there in 1570. Today there are actually 11 markets spread out throughout the town, and in between them every single inch of the town is decorated with lights and ornaments, including the streets, alleyways and buildings. In the main square is the largest Christmas tree in all of Europe! Standing watch at the center of it all is the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. If you are a brave soul and want to experience the town and all the surrounding landscape, you can walk up the 333 steps to the top of the cathedral’s tower and enjoy the view.

While in Strasbourg, I visited the Strasbourg Historical Museum that told the story of the region from the Roman times through the Middle Ages and the French Revolution. A newly opened section highlights the struggle the Alsatians endured when they were annexed to Prussia in 1871 and then occupied in WWII by the German Army. I also visited the Alsatian Museum of Art and Folk Tradition, which shares the unique heritage of the Alsatian people. I highly recommend seeing both of these.

Even with the chilly, wet weather, both Paris and Strasbourg are worth a visit during the holidays when they’re full of Christmas cheer in every shop, restaurant, museum and outdoor market. Come with your warmest mittens and an appetite for mulled wine and foie gras!

Sharon Autry lives in Gettysburg, PA, where she takes photos of the historic battlefields for her website Gettysburg Beat

Monday
Sep162013

Deciphering French Menus

Trying to find a decent place to eat in Paris is only half the battle. Then you have to figure out what's on the menu. Even when you're fluent in French it's not always easy to understand exactly what to expect in a dish when you order, even if you're sure it's "something with duck and potatoes" or "a white fish with vegetables". Menus translated into English by well-meaning establishments often provide some good laughs, if not appetizing or even accurate descriptions. "Burnt cream" for crème brûlée is one thing, but translating a crottin de chèvre salad as a "goat turd salad" might dissuade most diners. 

Bon Appétit is the latest English-French food dictionary from Gourmet Guides destined to help decipher French menus: "The purpose of this small volume is to aid the memory, to describe what gastronomic delight, or the opposite, is awaiting those who might order that otherwise unknown. It is also intended to help the adventurous, who seek out new or unusual dishes, to make the most of whatever is on offer. And it aims to avoid those sometimes comical translations often to be found even in the finest establishments." They sent me a copy of the pocket booklet to check out, and I've found it quite handy and easy to carry in a small purse. The print guide is currently on sale for €3.25 (usually 4.99) through the Gourmet Guides website. If you have an iPhone there's also an app in iTunes for €0.99. 

Win a Free Gourmet Guide

Share your own French menu translation mix-ups or mistranslations in the comments section below before September 23rd and we'll send a free copy of the Bon Appétit print guide to the two we like best (we ship anywhere in the world by La Poste). 

Monday
Aug192013

Candlelit Evenings at Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte

Despite all of the wonders and delights of Paris that I've discovered in my 18 years of living here, even I have to begrudgingly admit that when it comes to "must see sights", the reality can often be a huge let down compared to the fairy tale image many visitors imagined. Crowds, lines, noise, confusing signage, no restrooms, years of scaffolding for renovations, a lack of any helpful information in English, Artful Dodgers making off with your wallet...it seems there's always something that ruins the "moment". 

But not at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr222013

Haute Cuisine Etiquette 

As a journalist I’ve had the rare opportunity to peek into the kitchen of many Michelin-starred restaurants over the years. But I saw something this week that surprised me, and I think it’s important to share with anyone who indulges in the occasional haute cuisine experience.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan312013

Valentine's Adventures in Paris

Paris is the perfect city for celebrating la vie en deux, with all of the requisite clichés covered:

Five Sexy Couples' Hotels in Paris from the upcoming second edition of Naughty Paris.

10 Romantic (and Sexy) Things to Do In Paris with photos and intro by David Lebovitz.

La Vie Parisienne for a fun and sexy alternative show to the Moulin Rouge (en français).

Pinup Attitude for burlesque strip-tease classes with Sugar DaMoore.

Valentine's Bellies on Foot themed food tour with La Cuisine.

Valentine's Day on the Eiffel Tower with dinner, wine & cheese, or chocolate & Champagne.

And if you're already sick of red hearts and chocolates, get your tickets for the Paris Rollergirls vs Royal Windsor Rollergirls on February 16th. Because what's more Anti-Valentine's Day than a women's rollerderby match?

Sunday
Dec232012

Paris Restaurants Open December 26th-30th

Many of you already have plans for dining on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve, but if you're looking for somewhere nice to eat in between the holidays, this is a short list of restaurants I checked earlier this week (some are also be open on the 31st and 1st, but do call to confirm):

Click to read more ...