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

May 13-16
The 27th annual Artists' Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (11th, 19th & 20th arrondissements). It's a great chance to see some neighborhoods tourists don't normally see, to meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! Pick up a map and program at the Espace Jordain (3 rue Jean-Baptiste Dumay, 20th, M° Jourdain). Free entry. Open 2-8pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. 

May 21
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 12th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until midnight...for free! Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum.

May 21-22
Attention equestrian fans: it's time for the one of the legendary horse racing events in Paris, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at the Hippodrome d'Auteuil (16th). There will be food trucks, snack stands and you can also dine in the panoramic restaurant overlooking the racetrack. Tickets are €8. 

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

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Hand-Made Wool Mattresses in Paris

I’ve been on a long quest to find a new mattress in Paris, and got a bit obsessed about all-natural mattresses after spending the night on the Coco-mat bed at the Hidden Hotel. Of course, these fabulous mattresses cost a few thousand euros, so looking for something more affordable (ie, under €1000), I scoured the web. But I found nothing in Paris, nor in that price range. I considered natural latex (available at La Redoute), and drooled over the fancy, all-organic combinations of the two sold at Matelas sur Mesure. I was hoping an natural mattress would cut down on my allergies, help regulate the cold and heat throughout the year, and last longer than the sorry-excuse-for-a-mattress that the owners of my flat got for me when I moved in five years ago. I also thought it would be nice to sleep on something non-toxic, made locally.

Totally by chance, I found two places in the city that still make their own 100% wool mattresses by hand. I found the Literie St-Germain des Prés (8 rue Grégoire-de-Tours, 6th, tel 01 43 26 57 92) a few weeks ago when having a drink with a friend at the Café du Marché on Rue de Buci. When I mentioned casually I was looking for a hand-made mattress he replied, “There’s a mattress place right around the corner" (bonus points to Jeff for stumping the Paris expert). And there, in a totally non-descript atelier, was a man almost hidden under a pile of wool, prepping it for the mattress he was making. He quoted me €850 for a small double bed, and told me it would take about ten days. Then he left for summer vacation.

Then last week, when I was sitting at a café in the Marché d’Aligre with tour clients (showing them how to be locals, of course), I noticed a shop across the street that I had walked past countless times, Les Laines du Nord: Special Literie (19bis rue de Cotte, 12th, tel 01 43 43 61 77). I popped in and asked the price, and the same mattress was just €680 (the rent is probably cheaper in the 12th) delivery up to my 7th floor flat included. And the owner said he was around for at least the next few days. He even took me downstairs to show me the machine that fluffs the wool, the rack where the fabric is stretched and stuffed, and the special table with a sewing machine that goes around the edges. Pretty low-tech, I love it! So I put in my order for an extra-firm wool mattress in a classic slate-striped cotton ticking (you can also choose damask patterns in pastel colors), and it was ready two days later.

They told me to come back in 10 years to have the mattress redone: they pick it up in the morning, take out the wool stuffing, clean and refluff it, put a new cover on it, and then deliver it back to you before bedtime. So instead of hauling the old one away to the dump (like the one they hauled out of my flat this morning), you reuse and recycle. Not a bad deal.

Of course neither of the shops mentioned here have websites. These are artisans, not bloggers. ;-) But you can have a peek at the process here.

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Reader Comments (12)

I would be interested in knowing if the wool matress helps your alergies and how it is for sleeping upon.

I hope that you will report on your progrress.
August 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRick Wagner
August 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRICHARD
Does such a mattress exist in the US, or only in France? I can find wool mattresses, but they aren't quite like this--tailored and full and with the promise of restuffing. Maybe I could come and learn the trade from these guys and start doing it in the states...
September 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane
I just came across this fabulous mattress while searching for a wool mattress source. The only type available in the U.S. are like futons and must be piled one on top of the other to achieve the height of a regular mattress. They cost more than double what this mattress costs. And they require a special platform bed. There were some being made by the Amish, but they're no longer available. Jane, please bring this craft to the States. Just think of the mattresses no longer clogging the landfills.
September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
jane is there any way to order form the US? I live in CT and would venture that even with the shipping it would be less expensive than the wool mattresses sold here. They are a rip off! Thanks, Sue
November 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue Taylor
I wish to order one like this...can you send me the contact info for these stores?
December 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
The websites are in the article for shops that have one; otherwise I have posted the address and phone, you would have to call or stop in to order.
December 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
Does anyone know anyplace in the south of France that make this kind of mattress…..Nice or anywhere
March 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersharon
Great post & site Heather! How have you liked your mattress?
July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgiana A.
I am in Europe.
If I get to Paris, can I hire you as my tour guide for a few days?
And YES! I need to buy a real wool mattress!
June 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Bluehawk

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