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...

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to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Entries in French Culture (58)

Thursday
Jun182015

Pétanque (or Boules) in Paris

Whether you call it pétanque or boules, the traditional French game with the shiny silvery balls has made a comeback. It used to be the only people you'd see playing in were old men in berets sipping pastis. Now everyone plays, particularly Parisian hipsters (les BoBo's) who don't have to worry about breaking a sweat. 

In the mood to try your hand? You can learn the rules of pétanque here, and find a great list of places to play here, but what about les boules? You can either buy inexpensive sets of balls at sporting goods store like Decathlon or from pro shops like Obut. You'll probably see another game with little wooden pins, almost like bowling. That Jeu de Quilles, a Finnish game that has become more popular around Paris, possibly because the equipment is lighter and less expensive, and little kids can play. Not sure where they rate on the cool-o-meter, though. Stick with boules unless you're devoid of hipster aspirations or immune to subtle Parisian mocking. 

Casual pétanque games in the Arènes de Lutèce, for all ages (click here to see a cheeky angle to this pic). 

If you're just passing through and don't need the extra kilos in your suitcase you can also rent them from Paris Ma Belle for just €10/person for the day, and they even deliver and pick-up the balls when you're done. Another option if you don't want to have to do anything yourself is to hire Paris Localers to take a Pétanque Tour including an apéritif and a match on the Place Dauphine. 

Note that many people say you can play in the dedicated pétanque courts in Luxembourg Gardens, but they are usually reserved (and obsessively raked like a zen garden) for the local pétanque club. So feel free to play elsewhere in the park, there is plenty of space, but don't play in the reserved areas unless you get permission. 

Serious pétanque player in the immaculate Jardin du Luxembourg.

 

Wednesday
Jun032015

Paris Street Art of the Week

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll notice I take a lot of photos of the Parisian street art (and yes, I'm a bit obessesed with the Lo-Fi filter). I live in the 13th, where many internationally renowned street artists have decorated buildings, usually at the invitation of the local Mairie (town hall) or art galleries in the district.

The brown electric boxes which normally go unnoticed (which I assume are for street lights, traffic lights, etc.) make great canvases. So far I've only seen them decorated in the 13th. 

The first four below are by Pimax, who usually does the Marilyn Monroe graffitti around town.

The street artist Moyoshi has a very distinct style, seen in the two boxes below. This series is numbered (here #05 and #07 of 13 total). His work is often in street art galleries, such as Le Lavo//Matic.

This artwork below is part of my neighborhood's artists' network Lézarts de la Bièvre, which is having their Portes Ouvertes June 13-14. Sorry, I'm not sure who the artist is! 

And here are some other interesting street art works I've seen around Paris this week, the first two from a large street mural in the 13th, Rue Boussingault in the 13th.

This one is from the Rue des Recollets in the 10th.

And this below was seen on a funky 1950s (?) building along the Petite Ceinture rail-to-trail path in the 15th.

These painting below of Dali and Serge Gainesbourg are on the facade of a tattoo shop next to the Jardin des Plantes (5th), so they're not technically street art, but they convey the same feel and I like them.

If you're a street art fan, there are several events coming up that you might like:

-  June 5th: wrap-party for the end of the Artiste-Ouvrier exposition at Lavo//Matik, 6-10pm

- June 7th: a street art auction of 93 lots at the Blancs-Manteaux Auction (Marais), from 3pm

- June 13th: 10th annual Murs Ouvertes opening night at at Lavo//Matik, 3-9:30pm

- June 14th: the annual Salon Emmaüs flea market for charity will have street artists on site to decorate any items of your choosing, at Porte de Versailles Expo Hall 9:30am-7pm, €3 entrance

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. 

Friday
May222015

Two French Period Films in English 

If you like French history but can’t understand French and hate subtitles, there are two recent British films worth watching. And by coincidence they have the same male lead (who's neither French nor British). 

Click to read more ...

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 ...

Saturday
May162015

Hand-crafted Artist Pastels in a Hidden Boutique 

Despite being the oldest manufacturer of artist pastels in the world, there are many reasons why you've probably never heard of La Maison du Pastel. Like any true luxury item, these pastels are expensive and rare. And not because of marketing. These pastels are crafted with the highest quality ingredients, each one hand-rolled using the same technique the Roché family has been using since they started the company 1720.

Click to read more ...