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Newsletter #109: August 6, 2011

In this issue:

Do-Gooder Shopping Fix #1: Retro Glasses
Free Museums This Sunday
Paris Airport Lounges
Do-Gooder Shopping Fix #2: Books & CDs
Restaurants Open in August
Paris Beach Atmosphere
Buy Your Tickets Now for Fall Shows
Get Someone Else to Pay Your Parking Tix
Back in the USA: Heather's Fall Tour
The Secrets of Chantilly & Disneyland Paris
FDR Metro Station gets a Face Lift


* Do-Gooder Shopping Fix #1: Retro Glasses *

I hate shopping, but I love being a do-gooder, so I could hardly resist these new pair of glasses (my first since 2004!) from the French company Jimmy Fairly. “Jimmy” because they’re fun and retro, “Fairly” because for every pair purchased, they donate a pair to those in need around the world through charities like Restoring Vision, Voir la Vie and Peuples d'Himalaya. And the best part is they’re made right here in France, but they don’t cost a fortune: just €95 including prescription lenses. If you don’t have time to pop into the showroom over by the Gare de Lyon, you can select up to four to try at home, just like NetFlix, they’ll mail them to you and provide the envelope to mail them back. I popped in to try on a few models, leaning towards a pair that looked exactly like the ones I already have. One of the young designers convinced me to go for the bookish Eleanor Bridge model instead. Do these make my brain look big? They also do sunglasses. I got the Stayton model, which are huge and make me look like I have bug eyes. Love them! And at these prices, I can get a new pair every season. 

* Free Museums This Sunday *

This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month, which means that you can visit many of the city’s fabulous museums for free. But not all of them. The monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe, Conciergerie, Sainte Chapelle, Le Panthéon, the towers of Notre Dame, Saint-Denis Basilica, and Chateau de Vincennes are only free in the winter (November through March). Here is the list of the museums free on the first Sunday all year:

Musée du Louvre

Musée d'Orsay

Musée Rodin

Musée du Quai Branly

Musée de l'Orangerie

Musée d'Art Moderne - Centre Pompidou

Musée du Moyen Âge - Thermes de Cluny

Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine

Musée des Arts Asiatiques Guimet

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Musée Eugène Delacroix

Musée Gustave Moreau

Cité de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

Musée de l'Assistance Publique

Château de Fontainebleau

Châteaux de Malmaison

Musée de Céramique de Sèvres

Of course, these museums will mostly be mobbed, especially the Louvre, Orsay and Centre Pompidou. Why not check out one or two of the lesser-known museums? Try the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Nature and Hunting Museum, recently restored in an old Marais mansion), or the Cité de l’Histore de l’Immigration (The History of Immigration Museum, which is in an extraordinary Art Deco Palais de la Porte Dorée with a tropical aquarium, right next to the Bois de Vincennes). Also, don’t forget that Sainte Chapelle is open on Wednesday nights until 10pm through September 14 (last entry 9pm).

The Art Deco entry at the Cité de l’Histoire de l’Immigration

* Paris Airport Lounges *

If you’re travelling through Orly or CDG airports, consider booking into one of the Icare Lounges. For €30 you get to hang out in a quiet, comfortable lounge with free WiFi, computer terminals, television (you can change the channel), international newspapers, free beverages and munchies, and screens showing flight information. They’re open 7am-9pm, and you can reserve in advance on the Aeroports de Paris website. You can also buy a one-time pass to the Red Carpet Club (at CDG only), which is open 8am-midnight. You can purchase passes in advance online for US$39 or at the door for US$50.

* Do-Gooder Shopping Fix #2: Books, CDs and DVDs *

For this month’s second self-serving do-gooder activity, head out to the very cool Comptoir Général, a very quirky and unique space just off the Canal St-Martin that hosts many events for charities and good causes. Last month I popped by for the Braderie Ethique, a sort of Fair Trade Fair. Now Oxfam, the international charity organization, has opened a branch of their used book, CD and DVD shop in the mezzanine Bibliothèque. Bring your own to donate or pop by to browse and shop for some summer entertainment for as little as €1. Note that through August 8th you can also see the photo exhibition on the Roma (Gypsy) population by Médecins du Monde. Oxfam has two permanent “Bouquineries” in Paris, at 61 rue Daguerre in the 14th and 8 rue Saint-Ambroise in the 11th.

* Restaurants Open in August *

Paris was a ghost town in August back in the olden days (ok, even just ten years ago), but today you’ve got a 50/50 chance of your favorite Parisian establishments being open at least part of the month. The gang over at Paris by Mouth (a site of articles and reviews by Paris food critics) have started compiling a very handy little guide to the restaurants open in August

Les Philosophes is open...try the duck confit!

* Paris Beach Atmosphere *

While the rain has dampened spirits somewhat since the opening of Paris Plage, the summer sun has managed to peek through enough to help a few of us get rid of our winter monitor tans. The amount of sand is particularly impressive this year, as are the fun oversized chairs and bean bag loungers. There’s also a stand for the Vélib’ where you can purchase cool Vélib’ biking accessories (great souvenirs!) or sign up for an annual pass. You can find the official Paris Plage along the Right Bank of the Seine from the Louvre to the Pont Sully, as well as along the Bassin de la Villette (the top of the Canal St-Martin). But you can also find the summer beach vibe at the Quai François Mauriac, at the foot of the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (13th). There are many péniches serving as floating bars, cafés and concert venues (including the fun new Petit Bain), as well as the ever-popular Josephine Baker floating swimming pool with its retractable roof. And if those rain clouds make a reappearance you can always pop across the Simone de Beauvoir pedestrian bridge to Bercy Village for a summer movie or a glass of wine.

* Buy Your Tickets Now for Fall’s Best Shows *

How many of you never got to see last year’s Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais? It was so popular that tickets sold out months in advance and the lines stretched for three-four hours – in winter – around the block. So it might be a good idea to buy advance tickets for what will surely be two of the most popular exhibitions this fall: Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso…L’Aventure des Stein is at the Grand Palais from October 5-January 16, and Cézanne et Paris will be at the Musée du Luxembourg from October 12-February 26. Get your tickets in advance online here (it seems only the French version has both exhibitions listed).

* Get Someone Else to Pay Your Parking Tickets *

This month the fine for parking without paying the meter is now €17 (it had been €11 since 1986). Personally, I think if you drive a car in Paris and can’t be bothered to pay the cheapo street parking, then you deserve a ticket. But if you think you’ve been wronged (like me when my legally-parked car got towed without warning), you can actually try your hand at French persuasion and get someone else to pay your fine for you. Kidioui.fr lets you post your ‘story’ and then asks others to vote (everyone gets one vote), and once you receive the same number of votes as the amount in euros of the ticket, Kidioui.fr will pay you. Yes, it’s a publicity stunt, mais ça marche! http://www.kidioui.fr  

* Back in the USA: Heather's Fall Tour *

As much as I love France, it’s been over a year since my last visit to the US. So this fall I’ll be crossing the Atlantic once again for a six-week tour to connect with family and friends (before they disown me), to hike through the Sonoran desert where I grew up (hooray for tee-shirts and flip-flops in November!), and to promote the much-awaited new book from Fleur de Lire Press, “Naughty New York: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City”. So far the general plan is to hit Seattle, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City. Looking forward to meeting up with so many of you on the other side of the Pond! Stay tuned for events and my whereabouts at the Sexy City Guides website or follow me on Twitter (@ParisHeather).

* The Secrets of Chantilly and Disneyland Paris *

This summer my hard-working assistant Bryan and I have been spending a lot of time in two of our favorite places: Chantilly and Disneyland Paris. But we weren’t just there to have fun. We were working hard to create two mini-guides of practical, useful, and – most of all – essential information that will help readers plan their own hassle-free daytrip. They’ll be emailed out free to all Secrets of Paris subscribers, then available for download for less than the price of buying us coffee. Too cheap to buy us coffee? Then make sure you’re on the mailing list before September 1st and they’re all yours!

* FDR Metro Station gets a Face Lift *

Check out the swanky new Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station (line 1 platform)! I love the low-lit lanterns, the touch-screens with Paris maps and mini-films, and the black tiled flooring. It totally makes up for the months that this station looked like a cave. You can't see it in this photo, but the name of the station is translated into Cyrillic, Arabic, and Chinese to reflect the multicultural identity of the Avenue des Champs Elysées. That's the metro, always getting better!

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Reader Comments (1)

i wonder which came first.. jimmy fairly or warby parker

August 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

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