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

July 13-14 Bastille Day
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" Click here to read the defintitive guide to what to see and do in Paris on July 13th and 14th, what's open, what's not, how to get around, where the parties will be, and insider tips on being prepared: http://bit.ly/BastilleDayPAris

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). 

July 26
Since 1975, the finish line for the Tour de France has been at the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysées. Join the crowd of Parisians and tourists alike to see the winner of the race. Expected arrival time: 5:30pm.

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 (37)

Thursday
Jul162015

Parking in Paris: Important Changes

Parking in August is no longer free anywhere in Paris, but you can now use any phone to pay for parking.

Not Free in August
It used to be free to park in residential areas of Paris in August, but in order to encourage more circulation of the available parking spaces on the city streets (which make up 18% of all Paris parking places; the other 82% are parking garages), now everyone has to pay. It's part of the City of Paris' overall plan to promote public transportation, cycling, and shared car systems like Autolib' and Zipcar, both to reduce the levels of pollution and to improve the overall quality of life for Parisians and visitors. 

Long-Term Parking
If you're looking for long-term parking options in Paris, you can either get a Carte de Stationnement Résidentiel (good for up to 7 days at a time for just €9 before you need to renew the payment ticket), or pay for private or underground parking space if you're not a legal resident or are going to be gone longer (€75-€250 for a month). If you have ever been towed in Paris, you will suck it up and pay to have a legal spot rather than the hassle and fines of retrieving your car from the fourrière. Note that residential parking rates only apply on streets where the meter has a large yellow dot sticker, otherwise short-term parking rates apply. 

Pay with Your Phone
It's not all bad news, though. Now, in addition to paying the street parking meter with a credit card or a pre-paid Paris Carte de Stationnement (available at Tabacs), you can now use your phone to make meter payments through a voice server (tel 01 74 18 18 18), with smartphone applicatons such as P Mobile, PayByPhone and MYVINCi Park (all three available on iPhone or Android), or with any device that has internet access at the P Mobile website.

Short-Term Parking Rates and Rules
Parking is €4/hour in the 1st through 11th arrondissements, and €2.40/hour in the 12th through 20th arrondissements

Other articles on parking in Paris:

Parking in Paris: The Good News & the Bad News

- Driving and Car Rental Tips 

- Penser à Payer Votre Stationnement en Août (in French)

Wednesday
Jul082015

Interview with a French Dining Expert

Alec Lobrano's latest book, Hungry for France (author photo by Steven Rothfeld).

The contributing editor of Saveur magazine reveals how he continues to love Paris, the Parisians, and French cuisine after almost 30 years in the City of Light.

Click to read more ...

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 ...