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
* Travel Writing Workshops
* Calendar of interesting Paris events 
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Tours & Travel Planning

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

 

 

 


Calendar of Paris Events

Through February 27
The 100% Packaging-Free Organic Pop-Up store by BioCoop, originally just slated to run through COP21, has been such a success that it's not extended through the end of February.  There are over 250 itiems available in bulk, including produce, fresh bread, dairy (butter, yogurt and cheese), fresh ground coffee, nut butters, and other items, 20% from local sources. If you don't bring your own reusable glass jars and other containers you can buy them at the shop. At 14 rue du Châteu d'Eau, 10th, open 10am-8pm Mon-Sat. 

December 1 - January 31
Skate on the Eiffel Tower! This year the ice skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower is back, free for those who already have a ticket for the Tower, open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. Skip the line by taking the stairs, it will help you warm up, too! Skates size 25-47 (EU), sleds and scooters for kids, gloves are required. This year's theme is COP21, so expect to see an eco-friendly decor.

Through February 28
Bartabas' Zingaro shows combine equestrian theatre, dance, world music, poetry and many other disciplines. After having pounded the ground of his Théâtre Equestre Zingaro for more than a quarter of a century, Bartabas is now tackling the skies with his new show "They shoot angels, don't they? (elegies)". Get your tickets €42-50 at FNAC

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 Recommended Reading (10)

Sunday
Dec202015

Recommended Reading for Francophiles

For this month's recommended reading list, I've got something old, something new, and something that will probably make you want to pack up and move to Paris if you're not already here. 

To start off with the most magical of the three, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs is not, in the words of its author Elaine Sciolino, "a chick-lit expat book about how I discovered sex, fashion and life in Paris". It is, however, a story about how this highly honored international news journalist fell in love with a market street in Paris, its people, its history, its food and the way it slowly but surely transformed her into a "local" in her adopted neighborhood south of Pigalle. Yes, this book will make you die of envy if you don't already live in Paris, and make you nod in recognition if you do (because like Elaine, we all can't help but fall in love with our own market street in Paris). 

When my long-ago intern, running buddy, and tour guiding colleague Bryan Pirolli finished his doctoral thesis and obtained French citizenship this fall, I wanted to find the perfect gift. I stopped into the Abbey Bookshop and one of the other clients recommended Sudhir Hazareesingh's new book, How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People. Perfect! Only when I started reading it on the way home, I quickly realized I'd need a second copy for myself. Even after 20 years in France, I can pretend I know the French, but the "why" remained a mystery. This book, heavily researched by a British academic, finally clued me in. I'm only two chapters in (Descartes, the cult of Napoléon, Victor Hugo's occultism) and I already feel the little pieces of insight I've collected over the years are finally falling into place with the right context. It may be a bit heavy for the casual visitor, but if you live in France, this should be required reading. As an aside, I find it amusing that the UK cover has a suave-looking man smoking a cigarette, but the US cover is just the cigarette on its own. 

The last book is one that I never actually thought I'd read. Secrets of Paris is a novel by Luanne Rice, one of those prolific romance writers who comes out with a book every year. This one came out in 1991, and I hadn't heard about it until I started using Google search around 2001 (anyone remember metacrawler?) I'm not really a romance genre reader, but when I was at my aunt's house in Arizona last month she had a pile of paperbacks and told me to take one, and guess what was in the pile? I hate badly-researched books set in Paris (yes, I'm looking at you Dan Brown), but this one is faultless. Either the author lived in Paris or did her homework. It's a perfectly entertaining airplane or poolside read, and you can probably find it at your local library. 

Wednesday
Sep302015

Recommended Books: US(a.) and Paris Pas Cher

There are countless books written by Paris expats since Hemingway and the Lost Generation mastered the genre. But there are few that really offer an original look at how being an American affects our experience overseas. But after four years of experiencing “American privilege” while living in Paris, acclaimed slam poet and rapper Saul Williams casts a new, critical eye on both France and his home country: US(a.) Published by Simon & Schuster, the book examines what attracts many African-American expats to Paris (including, most recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates), without candy-coating any of the very real issue of racism in France. Read this excellent review from the Washington Post.

On a totally different planet, if you live in Paris I highly recommend picking up the latest edition of Paris (Vraiment) Pas Cher 2016. This book has been published by the same family since 1974. It’s not sexy or cute or trendy. It doesn’t think a €150 designer tee shirt is a “steal”. It’s simply a practical guide for finding the best deals on restaurants, hotels, clothing, beauty, entertainment, food shopping, electronics and high-tech, as well as everything for kids, the home and everyday living in Paris. Where to find parts to fix your dishwasher, the cheapest way to cater a large party, free classes at the local community center, where to rent furniture, how to get half-price theatre tickets, free legal advice, outlet shops and private sales, and much, much more. You even get a discount card to use in many of the places in the guide. Think of it as your secret weapon, or your System D manual for surviving Paris on a budget in style. There is also a blog with extra info.

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 ...

Sunday
Jul052015

Fun Maps of Paris

Herb Lester, a British company that makes beautifully-designed maps printed on recycled paper with a quirky retro feel, has come out with a new specialty map, Paris: Small Shops. Written by the Paris-based writer Anne Stark Ditmeyer of Prêt à Voyager. It includes 40 small boutiques, many of them dating back several hundred years or hidden in secret passages. Other Paris maps in the collection include Paris en Famille, Paris for Pleasure-Seekers, and It’s Nice to be Alone in Paris. All maps are available on the Herb Lester website for £4 each, or you can ask for them at your local bookstore.

Monday
Sep162013

Deciphering French Menus

Trying to find a decent place to eat in Paris is only half the battle. Then you have to figure out what's on the menu. Even when you're fluent in French it's not always easy to understand exactly what to expect in a dish when you order, even if you're sure it's "something with duck and potatoes" or "a white fish with vegetables". Menus translated into English by well-meaning establishments often provide some good laughs, if not appetizing or even accurate descriptions. "Burnt cream" for crème brûlée is one thing, but translating a crottin de chèvre salad as a "goat turd salad" might dissuade most diners. 

Bon Appétit is the latest English-French food dictionary from Gourmet Guides destined to help decipher French menus: "The purpose of this small volume is to aid the memory, to describe what gastronomic delight, or the opposite, is awaiting those who might order that otherwise unknown. It is also intended to help the adventurous, who seek out new or unusual dishes, to make the most of whatever is on offer. And it aims to avoid those sometimes comical translations often to be found even in the finest establishments." They sent me a copy of the pocket booklet to check out, and I've found it quite handy and easy to carry in a small purse. The print guide is currently on sale for €3.25 (usually 4.99) through the Gourmet Guides website. If you have an iPhone there's also an app in iTunes for €0.99. 

Win a Free Gourmet Guide

Share your own French menu translation mix-ups or mistranslations in the comments section below before September 23rd and we'll send a free copy of the Bon Appétit print guide to the two we like best (we ship anywhere in the world by La Poste). 

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 ...