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

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

April 24-May 22
April 26th is the Journée Nationale de la Déportation (National Day in Memory of the Deportation) in memory of the victims and the heros of the Nazi deportations during WWII. There are several events in Paris commemorating the solemn event, including a ceremony at the Mémorial National des Martyrs de la Déportation at the Square de l’Île-de-France (the eastern tip of the Ile de la Cité, behind Notre Dame) at 9:45am; a ceremony at the Mémorial de la Shoah (17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 4th) at 3pm; and a ceremony at the Memorial Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe at 6:30pm. 

April 25
Internationally renowned peace activist Ravi Shankar will be in Paris tonight for a presentation, "Discourse, Music & Meditation" from 7-9pm at the Maison de la Mutualité (24 rue Saint Victor, 5th), tickets €15-€50.

April 30
Paris is the host city for the 2015 International Jazz Day, with a live broadcast performance at the grand UNESCO headquarters (7th) with internationally renowned jazz artists including Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves. Other events will take place around Paris including at the Club Rayé. Check out the website for the program. And read this Guardian article for a rundown of the best jazz clubs in Paris.

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 (48)

Tuesday
Jan062015

Christmas in France

A guest post by Sharon Autry (click on any photo to see the full size image).

Traveling to France is exciting anytime of the year, but going for Christmas is a vacation you won't soon forget. Paris and all of France dresses for the occasion with lights and decorations which transforms the cities and shopping areas into nothing short of a magical winter wonderland. Having just spent two weeks visiting Paris and Strasbourg, I can say my own decorating skills pale in comparison; the French know how to do it up big!

My Christmas journey began in Paris and took me through the decorated cobblestone streets where the shopkeepers put on their best look for the holiday. I visited several churches to see the Nativity scenes, and then strolled through Luxembourg Gardens. They’re sleeping until spring, but the Medici Fountain is a still beautiful even in the throes of winter.

I have been to Paris before and each time I stood UNDER the Eiffel Tower but never could convince myself to go up into it. This time I decided I would see what all the fuss was about. I highly recommend taking the elevator up because unless you carry an extra pair of legs with you, it will be a long way up and quite a muscle workout. The view from the tower – even just the second level -- cannot be beat: all of Paris is at your feet!

I took a daytrip one hour south of the city to the Chateau Vaux-Le-Vicomte, an absolute must see on your Christmas itinerary. There is nothing to compare the exquisite decorations in each and every room. If you're looking for inspirational holiday decorating ideas for your own home, this is the crème de la crème. The current owners live on the grounds in a different part of the château and as I toured the gardens and the rooms I couldn’t help but envy them for living in such a magical place.

There is a growing anticipation, I am told, every year when the private Musée des Arts Forains (aka Museum of Carnival Arts) opens to the public for the holidays. I was there when the doors opened and I can understand the enthusiastic crowds because this was one man's collection of antique carnival rides, memorabilia, statues and fun games of chance (which you can play).

The main draw of France for me was the idea of visiting the many Christmas markets that are everywhere, filled with regional foods, mulled wine, pastries and those coveted ornaments and decorations that you just can't find anywhere else. I browsed through quite a few in Paris, including the large one along the Champs Élyseés with its magical lights and people going about their gift shopping. But the ultimate destination was to Strasbourg for three days of shopping, sightseeing and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.

Strasbourg is called the Capital of Christmas, and for good reason: the very first Christmas Market opened there in 1570. Today there are actually 11 markets spread out throughout the town, and in between them every single inch of the town is decorated with lights and ornaments, including the streets, alleyways and buildings. In the main square is the largest Christmas tree in all of Europe! Standing watch at the center of it all is the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. If you are a brave soul and want to experience the town and all the surrounding landscape, you can walk up the 333 steps to the top of the cathedral’s tower and enjoy the view.

While in Strasbourg, I visited the Strasbourg Historical Museum that told the story of the region from the Roman times through the Middle Ages and the French Revolution. A newly opened section highlights the struggle the Alsatians endured when they were annexed to Prussia in 1871 and then occupied in WWII by the German Army. I also visited the Alsatian Museum of Art and Folk Tradition, which shares the unique heritage of the Alsatian people. I highly recommend seeing both of these.

Even with the chilly, wet weather, both Paris and Strasbourg are worth a visit during the holidays when they’re full of Christmas cheer in every shop, restaurant, museum and outdoor market. Come with your warmest mittens and an appetite for mulled wine and foie gras!

Sharon Autry lives in Gettysburg, PA, where she takes photos of the historic battlefields for her website Gettysburg Beat

Saturday
Apr272013

Parisians still rude to tourists? Share your kindness stories instead.

In today's edition of the French newspaper Le Parisien you'll find a front-page headline "Dur d'être touriste à Paris!" (Tough to be a tourist in Paris!), with a two-page spread featuring differing opinions from both tourists and locals. But haven't we beat this horse dead already? Yes, Parisians can be rude, like anywhere in the world. Let's share the stories of Parisian kindness instead.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb122013

10 Reasons Paris is still the Most Romantic City

Updated on Friday, January 16, 2015 by Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

A cruise on the Seine, kissing on the Eiffel Tower, a show at the Moulin Rouge, dinner at the Tour d’Argent...despite the tired clichés, Paris still has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable rendez-vous that fits any couple’s definition of romance.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov052012

Discovering the Gaïté Lyrique

The Gaïté Lyrique is an elusive place. Not physically: the building is grand, impressive and situated an easy walk from the centre of town. It is what lies behind the façade that is not easily categorised. For the curious, however, it turns out to be one of the most individual tourist attractions in Paris: a forward-thinking haven of digital culture and modern music, currently welcoming art collective H5’s Hello™ exhibition as well as recent concerts by international groups from Maximo Park to Jagwa Music.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct102012

Bon Marché 160th Anniversary Expo

I took a short cut through the Bon Marché Department Store last week (well, it's big), and was surprised to find the 160th anniversary decorations are actually pretty cute. Catherine Deneuve is the muse for this Rive Gauche event, with her cartoon caricature accompanying you in a fun little photo booth (€5) and a moody video of the actress traipsing around the Left Bank. There are quite a few "Limited Edition" products for sale created especially for the event, including a Jean-Paul Gaulthier sailor shirt, a cute Lapin Ange stuffed animal, a chocolate bar in the image of the shop, and plenty of home decor and clothing. The scootering Lacoste shirt, I quite like. Have a look if you're in the hood. Through October 27.

 

Tuesday
Oct092012

Jewelry by Famous Artists

 

The Credit Municipal de Paris (Marais, 55 rue des Francs Bourgeois) is hosting an exhibition "Bijoux d'Artiste, Une Collection", featuring 180 rare peices of jewelry designed by great artists such as Picasso, Man Ray, Giacometti and Dali, today through January 8th, entry €5. Open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm.