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

Through July 31
The 22nd annual Paris Jazz Festival: come enjoy traditional Parisian and international jazz music in the Bois de Vincennes's Parc Floral. Entrance to the park is 6 €.

Through August 21
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!

Through August 27
La Nuit aux Invalides is an impressive sound and light show in the courtyard of Invalides highlighting the monument's history (Louis XIV, Napoléon, Charles De Gaulle), in English on Monday and Thursday nights. Tickets €18 (adult price). See the teaser video.

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 (56)


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. 


Merde! American Broadway with a French Touch at the Théâtre du Châtelet

If you’re in Paris this week, you’ve still got a chance to buy tickets for an award-winning Broadway musical in one of the city's most beautiful historic theatres: Stephen Sondheim’s Passion is at the Théâtre du Châtelet, in English.

Sondheim is one of the greats of the musical theatre genre (with eight Tony awards, an Oscar, eight Grammy awards, and a Pulitzer, among others), and creator of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night MusicSweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story. After 280 performances on Broadway in 1994-1995, Passion became the shortest-running show to win a Tony Award for Best Musical. At least that’s what I read online.

Before we go any further, a confession...

Click to read more ...


Unique Cinema Experiences in Paris

Back in the US you might have Netflix and a flat-screen HDTV bigger than ones in most cinemas, but in Paris going out to the movies is still a lot of fun. Because of the variety of theatres – indie, art house, international, mainstream – there are more movies showing on any given day than in any other city in the world.

Specialist Cinemas

Some cinemas are just for classic films (Le Desperado, Christine 21, Le Grand Action) showing Hitchcock thrillers, Gene Kelly or Audrey Hepburn musicals, early James Bond or Fellini films. Others have gorgeous, historic theatres (La Pagode, Max Linder Panorama, Le Louxor Palais (above) and Le Grand Rex (below)), and others are known for their special collections (Le Fondation Seydoux-Pathé shows silent films from their massive archived collection, and the soon-to-open Cinéma Les Fauvettes across the street will feature digitally re-mastered and restored films).

Dr. Frank-N-Furter Turns 40

In the heart of the Latin Quarter, the Studio Galande just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has been screened at the tiny art house theatre every week non-stop since 1980. Despite its age, the “show” (with live performers, costumed movie-goers and plenty of toast and rice being thrown around) is usually sold out for both the Friday and Saturday 10pm screenings. Go a few days in advance to purchase your tickets in person (€10), then find your props so you can join in the fun. And if you’re not going to get up and dance the Time Warp with everyone else, don’t bother going.

A Chic and Exclusive Film Experience

On the complete other end of the spectrum (in terms of neighborhood, price, and atmosphere) you have the Royal Monceau Film Club at the Raffles palace hotel of the same name just off the Champs-Elysées. Twice-monthly, guests pay €40 for a glass of Champagne, gourmet popcorn, and one of the comfy leather seats in a screening room designed by Philippe Starck. Films are usually Hollywood cult classics like “Back to the Future” and current blockbusters like “Mission Impossible”. For more information and reservations visit the website

Dinner and a Movie

A fun little place near République, Les Bobines, offers home cooked meals plus a cozy screening room (with sofas, armchairs and even a few beanbags) where they show popular or classic films (in their original version with French subtitles) and animated films for Saturday brunch. The dinner menus are €15-€33, including entrance to the film at 10pm (you can only attend the film if you dined in the restaurant). The Saturday brunch film is at 2:30pm. You can also eat lunch at Les Bobines, but there are no lunch films during the week. 


Rock-en-Seine Festival Live Streaming

Didn't get tickets to this year's three-day Rock-en-Seine music festival in the Domaine de St-Cloud just outside Paris? You can now watch the concerts live in streaming and archived here on the CultureBox feed throughout the duration of the festival, including The Libertines, The Offspring, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand & Sparks, The Chemical Brothers, and Hot Chip, among many more. Starting Friday August 28th, stay tuned!


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!  


    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.  


    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.