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

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

Calendar of Paris Events

November 7-15
The 40th annual Salon Marjolaine, the largest organic fair in Paris, takes place this week at the Parc Floral (Bois de Vincennes) with 550 stands selling everything organic you could imagine: produce, meats, cheeses, artisan oils, wines, essential oils, herbs, teas, cosmetics, beauty products, household cleaning products, clothing, shoes, accessories, home decor, books, gardening supplies, as well as stands for environmental tourism, different green activist groups such as Greenpeace, etc.

November 12 - Seattle
Heather will be at Seattle's Paris Eastside cooking school and French boutique for the November Sip & Meet event with copies of Naughty Paris for a special price of just $27 (cover price $39). From 6-8pm, wine and nibbles, €5/person. Come say hello if you're in the area!

November 18-22
Shopping for some supplies for your creative projects? Head down to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles for the annual Création & Savoir Faire show. Scrapboooking, knitting, gardening, baking, sewing, crafts, and decorating ideas for the holidays. Entrance €13-15, €22 for the two-day pass, open 9:30am-6:30pm (until 9:30pm Friday).  

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 Paris Essentials (27)


Free Offline Map App for Paris

If you usually rely on the maps on your smartphone or tablet to get around Paris, you've probably had moments where it simply won't load. I have 4G, yet I always seem to be in the metro on my way across town and I can't zoom in enough to find the street I need. Then there are all of you visitors who don't want to deal with roaming fees, but don't always have access to WiFi. My Plan B is the tattered little Paris par Arrondissement map booklet that's always at the bottom of my bag. 

But now you can use the completely free Maps.Me app to get detailed, offline maps of not just Paris, but every city in the world, big or small. You can zoom in quickly, no long delays and grey screens. You can see all sorts of points of interest, museums, gardens, restaurants, metro stations, etc. It's part of the OpenStreetMap project, and allows users to contribute information to improve the maps. 

Available on all mobile platforms including iPhone, Android, Blackberry:

I still highly recommend carrying an actual print map somewhere on you when traveling, because there's nothing worse than knowing your smartphone battery is dying and having to choose between taking more photos, finding your way to your hotel, or being able to order an Uber to get you there!


Free Mobile Offers 35 Days of Roaming in US 

Cell phone service in France keeps getting cheaper. This month the low-cost operator Free has become the first to offer commitment-free mobile phone packages under €20/month that include the new Pass Destination: 35 days of free roaming per calendar year when traveling to the US and Canada (it already covers the EU and 100 other countries in red on the map). That means you get the same service you’d have as if you were inside France (unlimited calls, texts and up to 3GB of data). 

The service is €19.99/month for the mobile phone service, or €15.99/month if you’re also a Freebox internet/landline/cable client. Once you go over 35 days the usual international roaming fees apply. According to most tech news sources, roaming fees will probably be a thing of the past in less than two years, so Free is just an early adopter of what will most likely be followed by the other operators. Read details here in English.

This news came just in time for me! I’m planning on a 36-day trip to the US this fall, so I’ll be switching operators this week . I’m currently with SFR Red, which is another commitment-free option, but with expensive roaming fees in the US. 


Former Paris Policeman Creates Videos on Avoiding Travel Scams 

Like any large city, Paris has its fair share of scammers, pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Visitors don't need to be paranoid, but being aware of the most common tactics used by thieves will help you be prepared in case they decide to target you. 

Safety Scouts Advice is a series of animated videos created by former Paris policeman Christophe Gadenne to help visitors to Paris and other big European cities avoid becoming victims. During his five years of working with the Paris Police, he met countless distraught, traumatized tourists from around the world who had their vacations ruined by thieves and scammers, so he decided to do something about it (incidentally, Christophe also just a really nice guy, married to a friend of mine). 

There are 39 videos currently in the series (with new ones posted regularly), searchable by city or country (Paris, Italy, Spain, Berlin, and Lisbon) or by topics such as:

- The 10 worst pickpocket tricks revealed

- The 5 ATM scams to avoid while traveling

- The 5 worst taxi scams revealed

- Fake apartment rental

- Preventing female assault

- Drink spiking

- Loitering hotel thief

- Unsolicited ticket helper

- Train distraction thief

- Fake petition pickpocket

- Flat tire scam

You can also read Christophe's interview in The Guardian article, "French former policeman turns to animation to warn tourists of crime" and because you can never be 100% safe from pickpockets, be sure to re-read my article from 2011 "Do Yourself a Favor: Be prepared for Pickpockets."


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 ...


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.

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Haute Cuisine Etiquette 

As a journalist I’ve had the rare opportunity to peek into the kitchen of many Michelin-starred restaurants over the years. But I saw something this week that surprised me, and I think it’s important to share with anyone who indulges in the occasional haute cuisine experience.

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