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
* Private Secrets of Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

June 12-14
The Salon du Vinatge is always a fun event in Paris, whether you're shopping for clothing, accessories, vinyls, and home decor, or just to hear the retro DJ tunes and the festive atmosphere. Free entry, at the Halle des Blancs Manteaux (48 rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd). 

June 12-14
The Portes d'Or is a chance for all the artistic workshops in the Goutte d'Or (18th arrondissement) to open their doors to the public. Over 80 painters, sculptors, jewelery-makers and many others who live and work in the Goutte d'Or wish to share their creativity. Please come support the community and experience these unique productions. 

June 13-14
The artists of the 5th (Mouffetard) and 13th (Butte aux Cailles/Gobelins) districts knows as Lézarts du Bièvre open their studios to the public for two days, 2-8pm. Free entry. Info points and maps here.

June 14
Get out your fancy hats and picnic baskets for the annual Prix de Diane races at Chantilly Hippodrome (just 45 minutes north of Paris from Gare du Nord). Read more about the event here. 

June 21
Celebrate Fête de la Musique in 17th-century aristocratic style at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte for their annual costumes dance event, La Journée Grand Siècle, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the original owner, Nicolas Fouquet. There will be an elegant picnic in the chateau gardens, live music and dancing, as well as carriage rides and sword-fighting shows. If you don't have a costume gown you can rent one on-site from €17. 

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 Expats and Locals (35)

Saturday
May092015

What French Expats Find Weird about America 

There are many blogs by American expats in Paris that like to point out all of the "weird" things about France. Things that the French, of course, don't find strange at all, for example:

- The toilet is always separate from the bathroom

- They put the bread directly on the table, next to the plate, when eating

- They require fitted, speedo-style bathing suits in public swimming pools

- They wear scarves even in the summer, with a t-shirt

- Medicine is all behind the counter at the pharmacy

What most Americans don't realize is that the French living among them in the United States also find a few things to be rather strange.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar132015

Renewing Your American Passport in Paris

Every ten years I have to renew my US passport. When you live in Paris, you do it through the US Embassy by mailing in your old one with the fee and photo and special forms you need to fill out and print. There are very specific directions on how to do this, so it's not a mystery, but it is time consuming and requires a bit of running around and QUITE a bit of cash. 

Passport Photo (only a few places in Paris will do the "approved" format) €9.95 + 60 minutes to get there, get photo and return home.

Mandat Cash (money order) €105 + fee €7 + 20 minutes at the Post Office banking counter getting the Mandat (you can't do it at the mailing counter).

2 Chronopost envelopes (one to mail my passport to the Embassy, one self addressed for them to send my new one) €50 + 20 minutes to get the envelopes and pay at the Post Office (including arguing with the clerk who wouldn't let me tear off and keep the top copy, as directed by the embassy).

Plus 20 minutes to find, read, fill out the online forms and print them at home. 

Total cost: €171.95

Total time: 2 hours (plus "4-6 weeks" to receive my new passport)

Annoyance level: High

The US Embassy is only 20 minutes from my flat, but they won't let you come to the Embassy in person to renew and pick up your passport, which would save on the Chronopost envelopes and cash mandat fees and the trips to La Poste (I'd rather wait in line at the awesome US Embassy than my boring neighborhood post office). The only time you can go to the Embassy is to get a new passport, if your name has legally changed, or to replace a stolen or damaged passport, and even then, if you live here (ie it's not urgent) you need an appointment. And taking a peek, I see the earliest one available is April 17th. 

So now I'm waiting to see if my new passport will arrive before my next trip to the US in June! 

As an aside, I'm also getting my first French passport. I currently have a French National ID card (issued free to all French citizens as proof of ID, and can be used traveling in Europe). My appointment for that is April 2nd, at the police station a block from my flat, and the cost is €86, which I can pay with Timbres Fiscaux (special stamps you can buy quickly with cash at any tabac or even online). Official French passport photos can be purchased in any photomat in the Paris metro (usually €5 for 4). So why not just get a French passport and use that instead of my US one? Because it's illegal for me to enter the United States with a foreign passport (one of the rules of double nationality). Still, I think in a pinch it's nice to have both on hand. Plus I won't have to wait (or go in a roundabout way) to go to Cuba. :-) 

Monday
May132013

An English Hair Salon in Paris

How many tales of woe have we all shared over trying to find a hairdresser in Paris who listens? When I want what I ask for and advice I can trust, I go to Victoria at StylePixie. Over the years I've been cut, colored and -- most importantly -- taught how to best take care of and style my own hair, something I rarely get from other stylists.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar032013

Testing AutoLib’, the Paris Car-Sharing System

This adorable little electric, automatic transmission Blue Car can get you around Paris for as little as €10/hour with an AutoLib' subscription. I tested it out this weekend, and maybe I'm infatuated with new love, but I'm already hooked...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb282013

Making Sense of My French Healthcare Coverage

I spent my weekend balancing my French healthcare checkbook. I’ve been a bit remiss in doing so, and now that I’ve done the tedious calculations, it looks like I’ve paid the price for my head-in-the-sand attitude.

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Friday
Oct282011

A Cemetery Plot in Paris

Forget Halloween. In France, November 1st is much more important. Toussaint, or All Saints' Day, is when French families visit the graves of their departed loved ones. Many tourists have visited the cemeteries of Paris to photograph the historic tombs of famous and unknown Parisians, but have you ever wondered how to get your own permanent resting place in Paris?

Click to read more ...