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Newsletter #121: October 24, 2012

In this Issue:

Feeling Good to Support Breast Health
Cup Cakes for the Make-a-Wish
10k to Support Cancer Patients
Jazz at the Ambassador’s Residence
Soup Kitchen Needs Volunteers
Spooky Day of the Dead Events
Favorite Fall Museum Exhibitions
Disneyland Paris 20th anniversary show
Two Free Paris Apps
French Culture through Food & Wine

A Busy Fall in Paris
Fall is always a busy time in Paris, and October must be one of the most jam-packed months of all. Everyone is back and settled in from their summer vacations, all of the big shows at the opera and theatre are in full swing, new exhibitions have opened in the museums, the fall markets are beautiful with all of the bright pumpkins and squash, and the first sighting of Halloween sweets have been seen in windows of many Parisian pastry and chocolate shops. This newsletter includes several fun and special events for charity organized by the Anglophone expat community in Paris. It’s a great way to mingle with new people (including yours truly, if we haven’t met), have a fun experience, and contribute to a good cause. A win-win for everyone involved! So please do make an extra effort to fit them into your busy fall schedule.

Feeling Good to Support Breast Health International
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or “Octobre Rose” in France, with events supporting research and preventative screenings all over Paris. This week the San Francisco-based Dailey Method is donating 100% of the fees for its Paris classes to Breast Health International's Fund For Living. "The Dailey Method is a unique combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning, muscle strengthening, yoga, and orthopedic exercises, effectively strengthens, tones and lengthens the entire body. The entire body and mind is constantly working throughout class. Through this process one's body, posture, and physical awareness will be transformed." Classes are Wednesday & Friday at 12h30; Thursday at 19h00. The studio is at 71 Avenue Victor Hugo, 16th. Individual classes normally are normally €40, with packages available.

Cup Cakes for the Make-a-Wish Foundation
If you’re not already signed up for Cup Cake Camp III, you’ve got until Saturday October 27th to join fellow weekend bakers in donating homemade cupcakes to be sold at the event at Le Comptoir Général on the Canal St-Martin. Word on the street is that this event is so popular that they’re in danger of running out of cupcakes before running out of sweet teeth to feed! What better excuse to jump in and try your favorite recipes? All proceeds go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and bakers get to win fabulous prizes donated by sponsors such as David Lebovitz’s Paris Pastry, Context Travel, La Cuisine, O-Château, Sugar Daze, Cake & Bake, and Co-Lunching.

Flying Frog 10k to Support Cancer Patients & Community
I can’t bake cupcakes, but now that I’ve been running enough to not embarrass myself I’ve decided to put all this energy towards a good cause: a 10k to raise funds for blood cancer research and support for patients and their community. A diagnosis of cancer affects everyone - The Flying Frog is a new charity that wants to help: “I started The Flying Frog to provide a community of support for the caregivers - the friends and family of cancer patients. I want to help people get organized, gain empowerment through education, have a forum to express themselves with others who can personally relate, learn from each other, and most of all take care of themselves - so you have the energy and attitude to help your loved one (even if it is from a distance),” says founder Rachel Hodas. The 2nd annual Flying Frog 10k will take place on November 18th in the Bois de Boulogne with the goal of matching last year’s fundraising goal of €10,000. You can sign up to run/walk (100 participants max), to volunteer during the run, or just to donate to the cause (contributions in the name of the “Secrets of Paris” team can be made by clicking on the button at the bottom of this page).

Jazz at the Ambassador’s Residence for SOS Helpline
A little jazz and swanky schmoozing for a good cause in a stunning setting? Get your tickets now for the November 23rd event, A Little Love Music, an evening of jazz and mingling at the British Ambassador’s Residence at 39 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (an 18th-century mansion formerly home to Napoléon Bonaparte’s favorite sister, Pauline) hosted by Lady Ricketts, Honorary Patron of SOS Helpline. All proceeds go to the non-profit helpline that has been an important part of the Anglophone community for many years. Please note that no tickets will be available at the door and photo ID will be required. Buy your tickets securely online: 40€ for members (of SOS), 60€ for others.

St Eustache Soup Kitchen Needs Volunteers
If you can’t donate cash or cupcakes, perhaps you can donate your time at one of the city’s soup kitchens, La Soupe de St Eustache, daily at the Eglise St Estache, Les Halles. They need people to help pick up food supplies from local bakeries, kitchens and food banks during the day, and other volunteers to help distribute the meals and welcome the guests each evening. At the end of November is their annual food drive outside French supermarkets to collect canned and dry goods donations. If you speak basic French and can understand their website, and have at least one day or evening a week free to volunteer, contact them as soon as possible.

Spooky Day of the Dead Events
I love Halloween, and because I grew up in Arizona, I also have a soft spot for the colorful Dia de los Muertos celebrations on November 1st. In France they tend to stick to the more sedate Catholic version of the holiday known as Toussaint, or All Saints’ Day, when families and friends go to the cemeteries to pay their respects with a bouquet of flowers. In Mexico the festival is more…well, festive! There are parades of skeletons adorned in colorful flowers, and traditional alters with candles, fresh fruit and flower offerings for the dearly departed. Rather than being morbid, it’s a celebration of life and of those who have departed this earth, but not our hearts. In Paris the Belleville screen-printing atelier and gallery Association pour l’Estampe et l’Art Populaire (49bis rue des Cascades, 20th, M° Jourdain) celebrates with a traditional Jour des Morts altar, and a show of inspired artworks. Don’t miss the vernissage on the 1st from 6pm until...the wine runs out!

For something more intense and macabre, Bartabas' amazing equestrian show Zingaro is back for another season with Calacas, featuring the Grim Reaper and his horseback brigade of skeletal demons. From November 2 through December 31st at 176 avenue Jean-Jaurès (metro Fort d'Auberviliers), tickets €42 (€30 for kids). Book soon, these shows always sell out!

Favorite Fall Museum Exhibitions
I’m always bemoaning the fact that 95% of my tour clients want to see the Louvre or the Orsay, despite the fact that there are over 100 other museums in Paris, and no lines! But just when I thought I was out…the Musée d’Orsay pulls me back in with not one, but two fabulous fall exhibitions you won’t want to miss: “Impressionism & Fashion” and “Victor Baltard: Iron & Paintbrush”. The fashion exhibition includes displays of historic fashion magazines and gorgeous period clothing, including some of the actual dresses worn by the models in some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. The Baltard exhibition shows how the architect of the famous glass and iron Baltard Pavillions that once sheltered Les Halles was also an artist (and did you know he renovated most of the city’s churches, including St-Eustache?), and that the modern structures of Haussmann’s Paris weren’t incompatible with artistic expression. Don’t forget to buy your tickets online in advance (combined tickets for the Orangerie also available), or go during the recommended “Easy Access” times to avoid crowds (Thursday after 6pm is my favorite time).

You can also learn more about Paris at the Carnavalet Museum exhibition, Les Couleurs du Ciel (The Colors of Heaven) featuring stunning paintings and frescoes from the city’s lesser-known 17th-century churches: Saint-Eustache, Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs and Saint-Joseph-des-Carmes (you start at the museum for an overview and historical context, and then go to these churches to see the real deal up close…don’t forget the binoculars!). Closed Mondays. Those who are curious what Paris looked like in the Middle Ages can visit the exhibition La Demeure Médiévale à Paris (the Medieval Home in Paris) at the Musée des Archives Nationales. It reveals what the average Parisian home looked like, as well as aristocratic mansions, in the most prosperous European city in the Middle Ages. Closed Tuesdays. These two museums only have minor information in English, so be sure to ask for documentation if you don’t see it. Or drag along someone who can translate for you…I know a good guide, if you need one! ;-)

Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary Show
If you’ve been following the Secrets of Paris for more than five minutes you’re probably aware of how much I love Disneyland Paris, which opened 20 years ago as EuroDisney. My friends secretly like it too, but they pretend they’re humoring me by taking me for my birthday last week (and I humor them by pretending I don’t know how much fun they’re having). At the end of a long day it’s tempting to just bail out of there, especially when it’s getting chilly and we’re still soggy from an earlier fall shower. But I had heard rumors about the 20th Anniversary show, Disney Dreams, which is shown in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at closing time (on Friday, that’s 8pm). We found a wall to stand on at about 7:45pm and waited with the throngs of parents and kids. “I heard this is really cool,” I said, hoping they wouldn’t give up and call it a day. And much like the surprise of normally cynical Parisians who got to witness the Eiffel Tower fireworks on New Year’s Eve 1999, we were not let down. The stunning show (starring Peter Pan) takes the audience through all of the Disney classics, villains, princesses, and memorable moments in what looked like an excruciatingly precise combination of fountains, fireworks, HD pixel-mapping projections, fire, water screens, multi-colored lasers and a bright "Second Star to the Right" atop Sleeping Beauty Castle itself. The castle was continuously transformed (at one point into Notre Dame Cathedral with Quasimodo climbing up its façade) so convincingly it was hard to remember you were outside seeing it in real time, and not looking at a screen. I would go again just to see the Disney Dreams show. You can see the official video here (and from a closer angle here; it starts getting very good at 7 minutes) but keep in mind it looks a lot better in person! To get the best price on tickets (from €35), be sure to purchase them at least 5 days in advance on the special link for locals, the Billet Francilien. And don’t forget the RER to Disneyland is free on the weekends if you have a Navigo Pass! Now you have no excuses…

Two Free Paris Apps
The famous red Michelin Restaurant Guide is now available in a free iPhone app, where you can search for the best restaurants in France by name, location, price or type of food. In French only (so far). If you’re into graffiti spotting in Paris, there’s another free app (both iPhone and Android), Urbacolors, where you can find the graffiti near you or upload your own (and get points). Available in French and English.

French Culture through Food & Wine
As a tour guide, I try and recount the history Paris in a way that provides context for my clients so that they understand why it’s important. Just shooting off a long list of kings and dates and battles leaves people more confused than anything. The “why” often goes unanswered (if it’s asked at all). With food and wine, most people think it’s fine as long as it’s good. But I disagree. And so does Fred of Le Foodist, a new dining and wine tasting experience where guests “Discover Culture Through Food”. After living in many different countries around the world (including the US, where he met his British wife), this Frenchman has returned home eager to share his culture with English-speaking visitors through his Daring Pairings (wine pairings with cheese, chocolate, etc) and Once Upon A Table (5-course meals with wine), prepared by an expert chef aboard a boat moored at the foot of Notre Dame. Instead of telling you what you’re eating and how it was made, he tells you the history behind the classic French dishes and wines. I learned more about the origins of French food in one meal than I knew after living here for 17 years! And don’t think that it’s all dry academia. Fred and his sommelier Stephan create a fun, informal, and welcoming atmosphere, making us laugh with their anecdotes and memorable explanations. The Daring Parings are at 6pm on Mondays, the Once Upon a Table at 8pm on Mondays; bookings are only open to about 12 participants to keep things intimate. If you’re interested in being one of the first guests, reservations open to the public in mid-November. Cooking and pastry classes will eventually be added to the calendar as well.


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