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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
* Private Secrets of Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
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Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

July 20 - August 16/23
Paris Plages: sand, beach trees, volley balls and bikinis -- on the Seine! Along the Right Bank quays and Hôtel de Ville until August 16th, at the Bassin de la Villette until August 23rd. This year's edition of the Paris Plages will feature many fun activities. Free entry, 9am-midnight. The 2015 schedule will be up here on opening day.

July 22-August 23
The annual Open-Air Cinema Festival takes place Wed-Sun nights at the Parc de la Villette's Triangle Prairie (M° Porte de Pantin), starting at sunset (around 10pm), free entry (deck chair rentals from 7:30pm). This year's haunting and spooky and horrific theme is "Home Cinema" (all films can be downloaded to watch at home from the website), including: Last Days, Beetlejuice, shutter Island, The Shining, Moulin Rouge, the Ghost Writer, and many French and international films (all in VO with French subtitles). 

Through August 23
The 30th annual Fête des Tuileries funfair with carnival rides at Tuileries Gardens starts today, free entry, rides with individual tickets. Plenty of food stands, too!

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

Entries in Entertainment (52)

Saturday
Jul112015

What to do in Paris on Bastille Day 

There's much to see and do on and around La Fête Nationale, aka Bastille Day, July 14th. This is a rundown of just some of the best options, including the dance parties, parade, and fireworks show, as well as some logistical tips on using public transportation, when you can legally drink alcohol on the Champ de Mars, and what shops and museums are open. 

Most of these events (except where noted) are free and open to the general public. Be aware that with large crowds come pickpockets! Only carry what you absolutely need and have a bit of cash hidden in your shoe in case you need emergency taxi fare!

Les Bals des Pompiers aka The Firemen's Ball:
July 13th & 14th

The traditional Bals des Pompiers take place in fire stations (or casernes), all over France. They are modeled after the guinguettes, informal outdoor festivals with food and live music, a bit like a countryside wedding reception where family members of all ages would spend the afternoon eating, drinking and dancing. The Bals des Pompiers in Paris fire stations are for entertainment and for charity. There's always a small entrance fee, food and drinks to purchase, and the firemen also sell tombola (raffle) tickets, all proceeds going to charities. By midnight most of the younger children have gone to bed and the party becomes more of a dance club with a DJ, young people (and firemen) dancing well into the wee hours (note that the metro will be open until 2:15am on July 13th and 14th).

These are open to everyone, space permitting. Here is a short list of the major ones in Paris (translated from the Que Faire Paris site): 

  • Paris Center (near the Louvre): Caserne Rousseau, 21 rue du Jour, 1st,
    M° Louvre-Rivoli or Les Halles
  • Paris Marais (near Place des Vosges): Caserne Sévigné, 7 rue de Sévigné, 4th, M° St Paul
  • Latin Quarter (Near Place Monge): Caserne des Arènes de Lutèce, 47 rue Monge, 5th, M° Monge (ONLY July 13th)
  • Rive Gauche (near St Sulpice): Caserne Colombier, 11 rue du Vieux Colombier, 6th, M° St Sulpice 
  • West Paris (near Eiffel Tower): Caserne Grenelle, 6 place Violet, 15th, M° Commerce or Emile Zola
  • Paris 9th (near Trinité): Caserne Blanche, 28 rue Blanche, 9th, M° Trinité (ONLY July 13th)
  • Canal St Martin: Caserne Landon, 188 quai de Valmy, 10th, M° Jaurès (ONLY July 13th)
  • Montmartre (near the cemetery): Caserne Montmartre, 12 rue Carpeaux, 18th, M° Guy Moquet (ONLY July 13th)
  • East Paris: Caserne Chaligny, 26 rue de Chaligny, 12th, M° Reuilly-Diderot
  • Port Royal (near Observatoire): Caserne Port Royal, 55 blvd Port Royal, 13th, RER Port Royal 
  • East Paris (near Père Lachaise): Caserne Ménilmontant, 47 rue Saint-Fargeau, 20th, M° Porte des Lilas (ONLY July 13th)
     

Défilé Militaire aka Bastille Day Parade: July 14th

One of the big events of Bastille Day is the military parade on the Champs-Elysées. The theme for 2015 is "Ordre de la Libération" to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris. The Champs-Elysées and all of the streets around it will be closed to traffic starting at 7am. Troops will start arriving from 9am. Then from 9:30am until 10:30am there is a succession of "inspection off the troops" by the officers and the French president Hollande, the placement of the Republican Guard, and then finally the "parade" begins at 10:40am with an Air Force flyover (you can see this from almost anywhere in Paris with a view of the sky). Then there is a succession of troops parading between the Place de la Concorde and Place de l'Etoile (Arc de Triomphe), a helicopter show, parachutes, and horseback troops. The guest country of honor this year is Mexico, so you will also see Mexican military troops in the processions. The president makes his exit at 11:55am ending the ceremony. 

What you should know:

  • Expect huge crowds. They will start gathering at 8am, and be impassable by 10am.
  • Expect that you won't be able to see over anyone's head (some people bring stools to stand on).
  • If you get there early enough you may get a seat in the upper level of one of the cafés or restaurants along the Champs-Elysées (they all have window seats overlooking the street, no idea if these will fill up fast or be closed until the parade is over).
  • Many of the metro stations on and around the Champs-Elysées will be closed for security reasons from 8am-noon: Tuileries and Concorde will be closed completely; Champs-Elysées Clemenceau, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George V and CDG-Etoile will have only one entrance open. These will be mobbed, so avoid if you can.
  • The Vélib' stations were closed last year on and around the Champs-Elysées (for drop-off or pickup). No news yet for this year, but don't expect there to be any access this year (or use your Vélib' app to check before you leave home). 
  • The Avenue des Champs-Elysées will be pedestrian-only until 6pm. 

Concert & Feu d'Artifice aka Fireworks Show:
July 14th

Parisians and visitors will be picnicking all day on the Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, not just because it's a fun place to picnic, but also because they're staking out their spot for the July 14th music concert at 9:15pm and fireworks show at 11pm. If you decide to join them, here are some tips:

  • Alcohol is not allowed on the Champ de Mars after 3pm (so get your drinking done early). 
  • The very few public toilets in the area will be inundated, and nearby cafés won't tolerate non-paying visitors using the facilities, so have some cash handy to buy a drink if you need the bathroom, and have a Plan B in case of emergency (the Berges de Seine will have public restrooms). 
  • The fireworks start at 11pm (when it's finally dark enough!) They last 35 minutes, and will have the theme, Paris Welcomes the World. The show will be broadcast live on the site Quefaire.paris.fr.  
  • The metro stations Dupleix, Passy, and Ecole Militaire will be closed from 7pm. The stations Iéna and Trocadéro will be closed from 9pm. Station La Motte-Piquet-Grenelle will be closed from 23pm. Other stations may be closed if a secutiry risk is determined. In general other stations will be open until 2:15am. They will ALL be very crowded, so if you can manage, try to walk instead of taking the metro (don't even think a taxi or Uber is an option). 
  • The Vélib' stations around the Champ de Mars will all be closed (no pickup or drop-off). 
  • You can see the fireworks anywhere in Paris that you can se the top of the Eiffel Tower (you might not hear the music though). Bridges and the banks of the Seine and Trocadéro are popular spots where you can watch. A friend with a balcony is better (or anywhere with bathroom access!) 

 
Retrouvez l'intégralité du feu d'artifice du 14... par mairiedeparis

Other Entertainment on Bastille Day (July 13th and/or 14th)

  • Bal Populaire on July 13th in the North Marais in the square of the Mairie du 3ème (2 Rue Eugène Spuller) from 8:30pm, free.
  • Grand Bal Populaire on July 13th at the Butte aux Cailles (Place de la Commune de Paris, 13th) from 7:30pm, free entry.
  • Place de la Bastille? Normally there is a Grand Bal here, but I haven't been able to find any legitimate information for this year so I don't think it's scheduled.

What's Open on Bastille Day, July 14th? 

Food & Dining: In general, more things are open than in past years. The open-air markets are open as usual (although some stands may be absent), most supermarkets and convenience stores are either open all day or just for the morning, and the majority of restaurants and cafés are open as usual (but do call to make a reservation before crossing town). Basically, you're not at risk of starvation! 

Shopping: The soldes (summer sales) are still going strong, and shops aren't about to miss out on a day when no one has to work. So many larger shops will be open, including: 

  • Carrousel du Louvre (10am-8pm)
  • BHV (11am-7pm)
  • Le Bon Marché (10am-8pm)
  • Galeries Lafayette Haussmann (10:30am-8pm)
  • Printemps (10:30am-7:30pm)
  • Bercy Village (11am-9pm)
  • Italie 2 (10am-9pm)
  • Beaugrenelle (10am-8pm)
  • Passy Plaza (11am- 7pm)
  • Quatre Temps La Défense (10am-8pm)
  •  

    Parks & Pools: Some municipal services will be closed like libraries and town halls (mairies), but the parks are all open, and a few public pools will be open as well: the Piscine Pontoise in the 5th, Roger Le Gall in the 12th, Josephine Baker in the 13th, Aspirant Dunand in the 14th, Aquaboulevard and Keller in the 15th, Champerret in the 17th, Pailleron and George Hermant in the 19th, and Georges Vallerey in the 20th. 

    Paris and Nearby Museums and Monuments Open on Bastille Day:

    Getting Around:

    The RATP and SNCF will be running as usual, although as mentioned above there will be certain station closures around the Champs-Elysées and the Eiffel Tower on the 14th. The RATP (metro) will be running until 2:15am on both the 13th and 14th. Vélib' stations may be locked down around the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées. Taxis will be very difficult to get (Uber as well) because of large crowds and road closures, all which can change without notice. Pack an extra pair of comfy walking shoes in your backpack!  

    Wednesday
    May272015

    Paris on Periscope

    This is a short video of my friend Claire about her experience as an early adopter (and #superuser) of the cool new livestreaming app Periscope. The sound isn't great, but you can hear her better than the interviewer.

    If you're on Periscope you can see Paris in all its glory on Claire's feed, @clairewad (she's a #superuser with over 3000 followers). She streams sunsets, walks along the Seine, and visits of Paris monuments and museums. You can see Paris through her eyes, ask her questions, and make comments (the screenshot here is from my inaugural peek on the Periscope). Unlike many "Scopers" who just broadcast without interaction, Claire is constantly chatting with her followers, answering questions and saying hello to each new person who logs on as she strolls along.

    Claire is originally from New Zealand with a French mother, and has been living in Paris for 20 years (we've known each other for almost 19 of them!), so she really knows the city like a local. You can learn more about Claire and her Periscope tours on her website Paris with Claire.  

    FOR PERISCOPE NEWBIES

    Even though my dad sent me to computer camp when I was just 9 years old,  I'm always the last one to know about any cool new technology (still bitter Texas Instruments stopped making computers right after I learned to code my TI99/4a). If, like me, you don't know anything about Periscope, you can read What is Periscope? and Periscope: Four Ways It's Shaking Up Media. The free Periscope iPhone app launched a few months ago, and the Android version came out a few days ago. You log in using your Twitter account (they created the app). After that, it's a bit crazy surfing around and watching videos. I recommend figuring out how it works before accidentally turning your own camera on and broadcasting your morning face to the world. 

    Tuesday
    May262015

    Where to Watch the Cannes Film Festival in Paris

    You may not be able to walk the red carpet on the famous Croisette to watch the films in the 68th Cannes Film Festival, but you can see many of the films in Parisian theatres this week (May 27-June 7).

    The films of the Director's Fortnight (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) at the Forum des Images in Les Halles (1st) (program here) through June 2.

    The films from Un Certain Regard are showing at the Reflet Medicis (5th) through June 7.

    All films are in their original languange with French subtitles. 

    Tuesday
    May192015

    Does anyone still read the Pariscope?

    I was going through some old files this weekend and found a Pariscope I had saved from May 1996 (above left) with a page on classic films dog-eared (I like to think I was going to watch The Bicycle Thief since I was obsessed with Italian neo-realism in college, but it's more likely I was planning to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show). For some reason I imagined the Pariscope was no more, like the Minitel or the Bi-Bop mobile phone. But passing by the newsstand on the way to the market, there it was (above right), neatly stacked, and still a steal at just €0.70. So I bought one, and it was like traveling back in time.  

    Click to read more ...

    Friday
    May082015

    Exclusive Ticket Giveaway for Piaf Show in English

    French chanteuse Caroline Nin has been wowing crowds around the world with her bilingual Edith Piaf tribute show, Hymne à Piaf. Now she’s back in Paris to honour the 100th birthday of France’s most famous chanteuse in the intimacy of a unique Parisian 13th century theatre in the Marais district.

     

    Breathing new life into legendary  anthems such as La Vie en Rose, Hymne a l’Amour and Padam while captivating audiences with stories in English woven throughout, Caroline Nin’s award winning show has been Voted TripAdvisor’s #3 Best Thing to Do in Paris.

     

    Ready to book your seat? Secrets of Paris readers get an exclusive deal of one free ticket for every ticket booked through August 1st. Regular prices are €30 (€25 for seniors).

     

    To benefit from this great offer, just email: info@carolinenin.com and say you are from Secrets of Paris. You can also phone the English box office number in Paris on 09 50 13 61 00.

     

    Shows in English every Friday and Saturday at the Essaïon Theatre, Rue Pierre au Lard, 4th (behind the Pompidou Centre). Performances start at 7.30pm. Theatre opens at 7pm.

     

     

    Monday
    May042015

    Last-minute Tickets at Opéra Garnier


    Although the Opéra Bastille has had the discounted last-minute tickets for €5 available since their opening, the Opéra Palais Garnier has only just started offering the option this season. Known as “6thcategory seats”, they cost €10 and go on sale one hour before the curtain at the Palais Garnier box office, while supplies last!

    There are also special rates for students under 28 (with student ID) who purchase tickets at the box office 30 minutes before curtain. Note that seats regularly go back on sale on the official Opéra de Paris website, so even if a show you wanted to see is unavailable, keep checking back, or look at the official Bourse d’Echange to see if anyone else is reselling their seats (at face price).