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Newsletter #124: February 12, 2013

In this Issue:

Romantic & Sexy Paris
Unique Paris Souvenirs
Popcorn Project
Paris Opera Ticket Exchange
Fun Stuff at Roissy-CDG
For Marie-Antoinette Fans
Events at Les Invalides
eBay Consignment Shops
Louis Vuitton’s Art Gallery
A New Paris Rental Agency
Running in Paris
This Month in Paris


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* Romantic & Sexy Paris *
As the French government looks ready to approve marriage equality for same-sex couples, it’s interesting to remember that Valentin de Terni, the 3rd-century priest who secretly married Christian couples at a time when the Roman Emperor strictly forbid it. He lost his head for it, but became Saint Valentin, patron saint of lovers, in the 12th century. Valentine’s Day oblige, I wrote an article for Thai Airways’ February inflight magazine, Sawasdee, titled “10 Reasons Paris is Still the Most Romantic City on the Planet”. On the Naughty Paris website is an article you can use anytime you’re looking for Sexy Couples’ Hotels in Paris. And at the Secrets of Paris website we’ve covered a selection of shows, events, special tours and an anti-Valentine option. Let’s hope all these loving feeling will help raise the chilly winter temperatures in Paris a few degrees!

* Unique Paris Souvenirs *
Whether you’re a tourist looking for a unique souvenir or a resident of Paris looking for fun gifts for your friends and family overseas, these two boutiques near Les Invalides are worth a peek:

- Boutique de la Musée Air France: Located in the Aérogare des Invalides (2 rue Esnault-Pelterie), this boutique sells a large collection of vintage Air France publicity posters and post cards, lithographs commemorating air travel, scale model planes and cars, gifts such as scarves, coasters, ties and reusable shopping bags, and coffee mugs. Open Monday-Friday 1-5pm. Oh, and don’t get too excited about visiting the museum: it’s really a research center and archives only open by special request.

- Boutique de l’Assemblée Nationale: This boutique entrance is around the side of the National Assembly’s Palais Bourbon (7 rue Aristide Briand), selling every sort of patriotic souvenir you could think of: a bust of Marianne, a “Deputé(e)” USB key (male on one side, female on the other), a poster of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, Bleu-Blanc-Rouge French Flag pencils, “Cocarde” playing cards, “Vive la République” coffee mugs, National Assembly cufflinks, and even oven mitts that say Gauche or Droite. Open Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, and Saturday until 6pm.

Note:  “La Cocarde Tricolore” is the circle badge of red white and blue rings that represents the French Republic. It was created during the French revolution: the red and blue are the colors of Paris and the white was added by La Fayette out of respect for the monarchy (white being the color of the Bourbons), since they still hoped for a constitutional monarchy at that point. Louis XVI was asked to wear the cocarde on his hat, and it was worn on the Phrygian cap of the Revolutionaries. Today you see it on the façade of many government buildings like the Quai d’Orsay, on cars of government officials, and on the sash of Miss France.

* The Popcorn Project *

In last month’s newsletter I wrote about live music performances at the cinema. This month we’ve got the Popcorn Project, a cinema social club that screens a different movie every month accompanied by Champagne and popcorn, followed by canapés, cocktails and DJ music. It’s meant to encourage cinéphiles to stick around after the screenings to socialize and discuss the film in a chic setting, the private Club de l’Etoile, a former Italian theatre near the Arc de Triomphe. Films are shown in their original language with French subtitles, and most of the members are young French professionals, so a bit of French helps if you want to join. The next screening on February 17th is the classic Bruce Lee film, Enter the Dragon (or Opération Dragon en français). Tickets, which can be purchased online, cost €29 for a single session, €99 for four sessions or €139 for the whole season.

* Paris Opera Ticket Exchange *
It’s not uncommon for tickets to the Opéra de Paris to sell out. But now there’s an official place to both buy and sell tickets to sold out ballets, operas, and concerts at the Palais Garnier and Opéra Bastille, La Bourse aux Billets. You won’t find any rock-bottom prices here, but they have to be equal or less than the purchase price, and they are vetted to ensure you don’t buy a dud. Wagner’s Walkyrie, anyone?   

* Fun Stuff at Roissy-CDG Airport *
It used to be such a pain to have to get to the airport two-three hours before your flight, or worse, to end up sitting there for hours because of delays. But now there are so many FREE things to see and do at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport’s Terminal 2 that you may not want to leave! In December an Espace Musées opened in Hall M of terminal 2E with a rotating collection of artworks from French museums (the current exposition is “Rodin: Wings of Glory” through April). In Terminal 2E you’ll find “Luminothérapie” Light Therapy booths to help readjust your body clock and a video lounge showing free films. A personal music-listening lounge is located in Terminal 2B, and every terminal’s departure zones have free video game, WiFi and internet kiosks.

* For Marie-Antoinette Fans *
Historic romance novelist Leah Marie Brown has gathered quite a collection of interesting trivia, images, and historical information in her website “Titillating Tidbits about the Life & Times of Marie Antoinette”, definitely worth a visit for anyone curious about the life of this legendary French Queen and her time at the Château de Versailles. Warning: history buffs will find it hard to tear themselves away! http://leahmariebrownhistoricals.blogspot.fr

* Events at Les Invalides *
Even if you’ve already seen Napoléon’s Tomb and visited the Musée de l’Armée, there are plenty of reasons to return to Les Invalides, including weekly musical concerts in the Cathedral or Grand Salon (the lunchtime Conservatory student performances are just €3), the Napoléon & Europe exposition opening March 27, La Nuit aux Invalides 3D sound and light show starting April 18 (tickets for €10 instead of €20 if you purchase by February 14th), and special costumed performers for La Nuit des Musées in May.


* eBay Consignment Shops *
If you live in Paris and are looking to sell a bunch of stuff but don’t want to have to bother with opening an eBay account yourself, you can instead try the services of EncherExpert, an eBay consignment company that – for 10-30% percent of the sale – will take your items, photograph them, write up the ad, and handle the queries, sale and delivery. They have six sites in Paris, and if you have large items they will come to you. VendezMalin is another company with the same business model with two boutiques in west Paris.

* Louis Vuitton’s Art Gallery *
Perhaps they’re tired of all the gawkers who come into their flagship store at the corner of the Champs Elysées and the Avenue Georges V, because Louis Vuitton now has their own art and culture gallery, the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, on the top floor of the building (entrance at 60 rue Bassano) dedicated to 20th-century travel “of which Louis Vuitton has played such an important role”. Entrance is free, so don’t hesitate to pop in to check out the latest exposition, “Correspondences” through May 5th, featuring “mail art” (meaning snail mail actually sent through the postal system, for you youngun’s) by fifteen different artists: unfinished letters, wrapped packages, travel logs, as well as videos and sculptures. Open Monday-Saturday noon to 7pm, Sunday 11am to 7pm.

* A New Paris Rental Agency *
If you’re a student or young adult trying to find a rental in Paris, you probably already know how frustrating the process can be: unprofessional agents, cattle call group visits, time wasted on inappropriate properties, and the atrocious process of assembling your “dossier”. The new agency ImmoJeune aims to change all this with their services targeted specifically for students and young professionals looking for rentals, roommates, or anyone who wants to rent their property in Paris and the immediate suburbs. Even before meeting them, you’ll see from their website’s thorough descriptions and photos that you won’t be wasting your time.

* Running in Paris *
Okay, this running thing has become something of a habit, so I’ve decided to make a special place in the Secrets of Paris Resource Guide just about Running in Paris This is the place where I’ll be posting photos of my weekly runs around town, as well as race info, articles on running in Paris, marathons and other races in France, and useful addresses for gear, and running groups. I’ve even posted a calendar of races that my running buddy Bryan and I will be participating in this year. Come run with us!

* This Month in Paris *
Don’t miss the latest events, concerts, expos and shows taking place around town this month on the Secrets of Paris Calendar, including the Chinese New Year Parade, vintage market and swing concert, guided tours of Balzac’s Paris, traditional Irish dancing at La Bellevilloise, and an exposition on Sensuality & Spirituality at a little-known museum near the Parc Monceau.

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