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Newsletter #135: February 5, 2014

In this Issue:

* Adorable New French Concept Store
* Eyewear Made in France
* A Classy Valentine’s Gift 
* French Food, Restaurants, Cooking
* Cinema Social Club Soirées
* Lost Something in a Paris Taxi?
* A Valentine’s Day Singles Event 
* World Radio Paris Crowdfunding
* Bryan Needs Interviewees
* Where to Recycle Clothes & Shoes
* Assistance with Writing in French
* Stay Informed on all Public Services
* Secrets of Paris Calendar




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Hello February! *
So far 2014 has been amazingly mild. I rarely even wear my gloves, which is saying a lot for this frilleuse Arizona girl! I’ve been training for the Semi-Marathon de Paris (March 2nd), training in my awesome new stagiaire, Sheena (you’ll be seeing some excellent new articles by her over the next few months), and going through the tedious process of interviewing book designers, printers and app developers for the various publishing projects I’ve been trying to finish for…ever. February is a short month, so I try not to pile too much onto my plate, but one thing I’m really looking forward to is watching the new French animation film Minuscule, the adventures of an ant and a ladybug who discover a box of sugar. I’ll let you know how it is! - Heather
* Adorable New French Concept Store *
I was walking down the Rue Jacob in the winter drizzle last week when I spotted a cool looking new shop “Gab & Jo: Concept Store à la Française”. It had a hipster/bobo style to it, which, despite the negative connotations that has these days, is a pretty appealing aesthetic. Intending to look it up online once I got home (I was sure I was the last one to hear about it), I took a quick photo of the façade while balancing my hot pink umbrella. And to my surprise, instead of the usual scowl (or worse, getting yelled at) from a grumpy shop owner, I saw someone inside give a friendly wave. So I went in. Alexis Leroy is the tall, friendly Frenchman in the photo who decided to open a store (named after his kids, Joseph and Gabrielle) focusing only on quality objects made in France. He has only just opened, and says he hasn’t been in any press yet. Huh? There are toys, jewelry, funky t-shirts and tote bags (like the “Vui +Thon” with a tuna picture), artisan knives, wooden bow-ties, gorgeous-smelling candles, leather bags, and tons of objects that make perfect non-touristy gifts or souvenirs of your stay in Paris. Stop by and say hello! Gab & Jo: 28 rue Jacob, 6th, open Mon-Sat 11am-7:30pm.

* Eyewear Made in France *
If you’ve been reading Secrets of Paris for a few years you might remember I got a pair of glasses from Jimmy Fairly, the stylish yet affordable glasses designed in France, which give a pair to charity with each pair purchased. Now I’m in the mood for something new, so I’ve been perusing the windows of what seem like thousands of eyewear shops around Paris, and the adorable specs from Face à Face caught my eye (the little high heels on the ends did it). Not only are they’re fun and – dare I say? – glamorous, they’re also made here in France. They can be found in shops throughout the city (and even in a few shops internationally). A great way to add a little color to your view while waiting for spring to return!   

* A Classy Valentine’s Gift for Paris Lovers *
Coming to Paris for St-Valentine’s Day with that special someone? Don’t join the idiot masses vandalizing the historic bridges (and street lamps, and every other inch of free space) with their padlocks (no, it’s not historic; it’s a new tourist thing). Get your sweetheart something truly unique, like this limited edition screen print of Paris by the talented French illustrator and graffiti artist Franck Pellegrino. There are only 30 handmade prints, each one signed, and all of the other posters have already sold out, so act quick! €100 plus shipping from L’Attrape Rêve.
* French Food, French Restaurants, French Cooking *
These days, anyone who eats thinks they’re a food critic, everyone who cooks thinks they’re a chef, and anyone with a blog thinks they can write a book. Well if quality, experience and talent don’t count for anything, sure, who needs standards? I do! And I know YOU do, too, or you wouldn’t have put up with my crazy rants for this long. That’s why I’m happy to recommend some of the best, trusted voices in the industry. First, no one is more dedicated to tracking down the most authentic (in the true sense of the word) French restaurants than Alexander Lobrano. You can read many of his reviews on his website, but I highly recommend you reserve copies of the latest edition of Hungry for Paris (technically out in April) and Hungry for France. Meg Bortin’s simple website The Everyday French Chef  is “the modern cook’s guide to producing fabulous French cuisine without spending hours in the kitchen” and even includes vegetarian and vegan menus. Her recipes and videos are easy to understand (even for culinary dolts like myself). She doesn’t toot her own horn at all on the site (just says she’s lived in France for over 30 years and was briefly a professional cook), but she also happens to have had an illustrious career as a correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, Agence France Press and Reuters, and is the author of several books, including “Desperate to be a Housewife”. Finally, I’m very excited for the upcoming release ofDavid Lebovitz’s new book, “My Paris Kitchen”, what he describes as “a highly personal look at Paris cooking, with recipes from my kitchen. There are stories (and lots and lots of pictures from photographer Ed Anderson) about markets, restaurants, chocolate shops, and even some of the quirky characters that make Paris such a special city and culinary mecca for people around the world.” You might say I’m biased (David is my friend), but I‘ve watched how much work has gone into this book over the past two years!

* Cinema Social Club Soirées *
Some people never go to the cinema anymore because they watch all of their movies at home. But the Popcorn Project is a totally new experience worth checking out. This cinema social club organizes regular screenings of popular, classic and cult films in a private cinema venue with an aperitif beforehand and a buffet, cocktail and DJ afterwards. Think of it as a private party with a movie screening in the middle. And that doesn’t mean high-brow, “complicated” art films with snooty intellectual types. The Popcorn Project is about fun, and the predominantly under-40 crowd that votes on the movies each month aren’t trying to be pretentious. For example, when the organizers asked for suggestions for this week’s film on the theme of “Femme Fatale”, Who Killed Roger Rabbit? was among the films suggested (Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe won in the end). They are almost always American films and in VO with French subtitles. I went last month for Psycho, which I’d never actually seen in its entirety before. There was an award-winning student short film beforehand, Champagne and gourmet Papy Popcorn. Afterwards we had Tartes Kluger, Gü pastries and Demory Paris beer while DJ Monsieur Barbe got warmed up. The Ciné-Cocktail-DJ set evenings at the Etoile Cinema are €30 (or €99 for four sessions), and you get more than enough food and drink. The smaller Ciné-Apéro at La Bobine during the week is €15. A great idea for groups of friends in an inclusive, festive setting.

* Lost Something in a Paris Taxi? *
I get a lot of emails from tourists who left something in a taxi, trying desperately to contact the taxi company and getting nowhere. The taxi companies don’t actually handle this themselves, all drivers are supposed to drop off all found items at the Prefecture de Police’s Service des Objets Trouvés within 48 hours, so that’s who you need to contact, either by phone (08 21 00 25 25), email (servicedesobjetstrouves-paris@interieur.gouv.fr), or stop by in person at 36, rue des Morillons, 15th, Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. Anything estimated under €100 will be kept three months, anything over that for one year. Be as precise as possible when emailing about the item, description, contents, etc. This has to be done in French, of course. If you’re smart, you’ll always get a receipt from the taxi driver so you have the taxi’s serial number. If you don’t want to bother with that, get in the habit of taking a quick photo of the sticker on the passenger window which also states the taxi’s license number, also handy in case you have any disputes with the driver.
* A Valentine’s Day Singles Event & Contest *
Back in the July 2013 issue of Secrets of Paris Newsletter #128 I announced the publication of my friend Lily Heise’s mostly-autobiographical book, Je T’aime, Me Neither (a play on the naughty Serge Gainsbourg duo with Jane Birkin, Je T’aime, Mon Non Plus). As Lily – aka La Tigresse – says, “Paris is supposed to be the eternal city of amour, and it can be. However, since arriving here many years ago, I continuously find myself victim—with varying degrees of willingness—to the city’s tormented sensual power… which inevitably leads to all kinds of amorous misadventures.” In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, she has teamed up with Expats Paris to organize an international singles event in Paris on February 14th at Patrick’s Pub. For those who can’t make it, you can also get free or discounted copies of Je T’aime, Me Neither (in print and Kindle version) through Usbourne Books until February 15th. Check out the official JTMN blog for more information.

* World Radio Paris Crowdfunding *
The English-language community radio station, World Radio Paris, is holding a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for their launch. “Last year, the French Broadcasting authority (CSA) finally gave WRP a frequency to begin broadcasts, starting June 20 this year. WRP is a non-profit radio station, it needs support from listeners to pay for its equipment and broadcast fees. In exchange, we guarantee a commercial-free high quality radio station, focusing on news-you-can-use when you are an expat in Paris, and bringing listeners great radio shows from partner stations like the BBC and NPR.” They have until February 21st to raise €1700 needed to purchase their transmitter and start broadcasting (which, if they don’t start by June, means they’ll lose their license). As usual, those who donate at different levels get special gifts in return (for example, €500 gets you or your business on-air promotion for a year).

* Write about Travel? Bryan Needs Interviewees *
Bryan is a former Secrets of Paris intern, occasional Secrets of Paris tour guide, and always a fun running buddy. In short, a good guy to have on your side, so I try to give him a hand whenever he needs anything. And right now he needs you! “I'm looking to interview English-speaking travel journalists, or bloggers who live in Paris and write about the city, for my doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne. I'm also eager to meet people who are active in writing reviews of forum entries on TripAdvisor. Feel free to contact me for a chat over a coffee sometime soon!” You can contact him through his website “Where is Bryan?” or by email bryan.pirolli@gmail.com.

* Where to Recycle Clothing, Shoes, Linen *
Now that you’ve all stuffed your tiny Parisian closets full of new clothing from the winter sales, time to clean out the old stuff you never wear. There are many places in Paris to donate used clothing (Croix Rouge, Emmaüs, etc), but they are not centrally located nor open at all hours. The easiest option is also one of the oldest: Le Relais is a 30-year-old non-profit association which has metal collection boxes all over Paris, some so discreet you probably walk past them every day without noticing them. You can deposit clothing (even hats, scarves, gloves, etc), shoes (tied together), and any type of linens, in any condition, in the boxes 24/7 (see the map here). Not only do you reduce landfill waste, you’re also providing socially responsible jobs for people “en situation d’exclusion”. Items in good condition are sold for a low price to those in need at the Ding Fring shops around France (two in Paris), and clothing that can’t be resold is recycled into cleaning rags for industrial use or even cotton-based insulation for the building industry.

* Assistance with Writing Administrative Letters in French *
If you live in France, you’ve probably had to fill out countless administrative forms in French, whether it’s the letter requesting to cancel your cell phone contract, a document for your visa renewal, or even a declaration in small claims court when you’ve been ripped off by a contractor. Most expats tend to rely on their French friends or paid professionals for help with this is their French isn’t up to snuff, but there’s another option: l’écrivain public. This is a public servant whose only job is to write official letters and documents for those who either can’t write at all or who haven’t quite mastered administrative French. Most mairies (local town halls) in Paris have regular office hours for their free Ecrivain Public (some with appointment, some on a walk-in basis), and if not they can direct residents to neighborhood non-profits that have them. And of course there are private, freelance contractors who will do the same service for a fee. I should also note here that every mairie also has a legal assistance service – Permanences Juridiques -- which offers free, confidential (anonymous) advice in case you’re having issues with your landlord, neighbors, your workplace, or any commerçant in Paris.

* Stay Informed on all Public Services *
Whether it’s for you or someone in need who you know, the City of Paris publishes each year a full guide of public service available to everyone from citizens and residents to the homeless and sans papiers. It’s a very well-organized, useful guide for everything from where to get administrative info, request emergency housing, lists of soup kitchens, public baths, water fountains that work even in winter, free vets, services for the handicapped, assistance for job seekers, medical emergencies, and associations for those with drug or alcohol abuse problems.  Download the free guide here: 2014 Solidarité à Paris.  

* Paris Events Calendar *
As usual, don’t miss the Secrets of Paris Calendar for shows, exhibitions and events like the International Environmental Film Festival (FIFE) which starts today, the next Popcorn Project cinema night this Thursday, and the ongoing Chinese New Year festivities (parade this Sunday), and Valentine’s Day events that don’t suck. I also post news and events and photos from my runs through Paris on Twitter.  

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for your latest Newsletter., Heather. I just wanted you to know that I
finally got the St. Valentin poster that you had advertised in your Feb.
newsletter. I ordered it from L'Attrape Reve the day I saw it, thinking it would be a
great Valentine's Day gift for my husband. Melissa at L'Attrape was so
helpful answering our many e mails. First the poster was delayed
being sent from Attrape, then Colissimo did not deliver for many many
days but Melissa faithfully tracked it down. When it finally arrived at
the Post Office in Jussieu, (we moved apartments in the interim) the
poster was damaged with a large crease right down the middle. Finally we
went personally to L'Attrape, met Melissa, who is charming and delightful
and she gave us a new poster. Hooray. She even directed us to a frame
shop in the 11th where we bought all the right stuff to hang it.
It is a wonderful poster and looks smashing in our new apartment.
March 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda Prowse

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