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Newsletter #146: September 10, 2014

In this Issue:
* Tours of My Neighborhood
* Call it Street Art, SVP
* Things Grow Here
* Get Off Your Butt
* What Happened in Paris
* What Heather Ate
* Collaborative Economy Gets Trendy
* Secrets of Paris News & Calendar 



* Tours of My Neighborhood *
September is a great month in Paris because so much is going on. Forget January 1st, La Rentrée is the real Parisian New Year. But it also means there’s little time to hang out at my desk writing newsletters. I’ll be in Bordeaux for the 30th annualMarathon du Médoc and then up to Mont Saint-Michel for a tranquil evening on the abbey’s island. In between I’m busy leading tours around Paris and Chantilly. My absolute favorite neighborhood tour is…my own! I love the 13th arrondissement, its variety and surprising mix of adorably old-fashioned streets and impressively modern architecture, the murals by world class artists, the open-air food markets, the riverside guinguettes at the foot of the National Library, and the quirky Chinatown shops. It’s also an excellent district for movie-goers, with the new Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé opening today (particularly interesting if you’re into silent films) after six long years of construction (the architecture combines a historic façade with bas relief sculptures by Rodin and the interior “glass shell” by Renzo Piano, one of the architects of the Centre Pompidou).
Marathon du Médoc: http://www.marathondumedoc.com/
Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé: http://fondation-jeromeseydoux-pathe.com/



* Call it Street Art, SVP *
If you’re into street art you can go on a self-guided tour of the murals commissioned by the local town hall, or stop by the Galerie Itinerrance which represents some of the world’s most prominent street artists including C215 and El Seed (they were the ones who brought together 108 street artists for the wildly popular La Tour Paris 13, which was demolished in April). And it’s not in the 13th, but nearby in the 5th arrondissement is another excellent gallery and bookshop featuring graffiti artists, Nunc! Their next vernissage is September 13th from 2-7pm with the artist Baubô. The Espace Dali is hosting a new street art exhibition Dali Fait le Mur starting tomorrow (through March 15th), bringing together twenty “urban artists” (including beloved Parisian street artists Jérôme Mesnager and Speedy Graphito) who have created their own interpretations of Dali’s surrealist artworks in painting, stencil, design, light, sound and installation (photo above).
Galerie Itinerrance: http://itinerrance.fr/
Tour Paris 13: http://www.tourparis13.fr/  
Dali Fait le Murhttp://www.daliparis.com/en/


* Things Grow Here *
 One of my clients asked about the little square of plantings surrounded by a wooden fence, “Is that a community garden?” It’s actually going to be home to a new tree. Many sick old trees around Paris were cut down over the summer, their trunks dug up and fresh soil laid down to prepare for the fall plantings. The fences were to keep people out of the dirt. But in the mean time, with all of the rain and sunshine we had in August they sprouted a ton of weeds, wild flowers and stinging nettles (which actually make a nice tea if you know how to harvest them without getting stung). Despite some whining to the contrary, Paris is getting greener every year, with new gardens opening all of the time. The Jardin des Rosiers just opened this summer on the street of the same name, with a small grassy area for kids, a community garden and even a restored section of the 13th-century city wall. Paris also just planted the Forêt Linéaire, its first “forest” of 3000 trees (and over 12,000 plants) in a green belt along the northeastern edge of the city between Porte de la Villette et la Porte de la Chapelle. It may take a few years for them to really grow in before becoming a destination for “Fall Color” (in the meantime, try the Park Montsouris in the 14th). And if you think a particularly drab part of your neighborhood could use some greening, there’s now an iPhone/Android app DansMaRue where you can tell City Hall (through November). They will then choose the best 200 spots to add some greenery (you can also go to Paris.fr or call 3975 to make your request).


* Get Off Your Butt *
If you’re hoping to keep your summer shape throughout the winter, now is the time to join a local gym. France has finally caught on to the fitness craze so there are more than enough to choose from, in all price and quality ranges, from CrossFit, pole dancing, mixed martial arts, zumba, Pilates, boxing, waterbiking, and the traditional gym with machines, classes and weight room. If you can’t decide, get yourself on the list for a Tryndo Pass, which allows you to try a session in ten different gyms around Paris for just €59 (if you just want to see the variety of places available click on “voir nos studios” in the upper right-hand corner of the home page). And although PariRoller is hardly new (they were already going strong when I was a student 20 years ago), it’s worth reminding you that anyone (who knows how to use their brakes) can participate in their free 3-hour Friday Night Fever Skates from 10pm at the foot of Tour de Montparnasse (Place Raoul Dautry, 14th). If cobblestones and high speeds downhill scare you, opt for the Rollers & Coquillages Sunday afternoon family skate from Place de la Bastille at 2:30pm. Cyclists can join the free Paris by Night tour by Paris Rando Vélo every Friday night at 9:30pm from the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville (4th). If my running adventures have inspired you, it’s too late to join us in Médoc, but you can still register for theCourses du Luxembourg, a 6k and 10k around Luxembourg Gardens on September 28th. Most big races fill up quickly in Paris, so if you’re interested in participating in the Paris Half-Marathon on March 8, 2015, registration opens September 16th.
Rollers & Coquillageshttp://www.rollers-coquillages.org/
Paris Rando Vélo: http://www.parisrandovelo.fr/
Paris Half-Marathonhttp://www.semideparis.com/


* What Happened in Paris *
I love going to the movies. I would spend an entire vacation in the cinema (eating Peanut M&Ms) if I could do it without feeling guilty. Of course I always make it a priority to watch movies set in Paris, because then I can call it “research”. If you’re a movie buff and want to see where scenes from your favorite films were shot, check out Set in Paris Movie Tours, which have daily walking and small bus tours in English from their cool Latin Quarter headquarters. Bonus points for their blog postTop Ten Music Videos Shot in Paris. The big film news in town this season is the release (during Fashion Week – Sept 23-Oct 1 – bien sûr) of the film Saint Laurent, about the rise to fame of the mythical French couturier Yves Saint Laurent. Even if you can’t understand French, if you love Paris and you love fashion there will be plenty of eye candy to make up for it.
Set in Paris Movie Tours: http://www.setinparis.com/


* What Heather Ate *
On the Parisian food scene, I’ve had some wonderful meals in both expected and unexpected places. Americans aren’t used to seeing huge pork legs in the window, but many epiceries in Paris sell the highly prized Iberian Ham now officially known as Jambon Pata Negra (an appellation created by Spanish Royal Decree in January 2014). My favorite is the newly-opened hole in the wall in the Passage des Panoramas, Les Grands d’Espagne, selling gourmet baguette sandwiches at lunchtime with one of the six different cuts (patiently explained in detail by the multilingual staff). Around the corner right on the Grands Boulevards is Le BAT, with a selection of fish and meat tartartes, but also other tasty dishes like roasted guinea fowl (photo above) or grilled cod. There are plenty of tables in the contemporary dining room (and seats on the boulevard, but who can stand that noise?), although my favorite spot is right at the central bar where you can watch the chefs in action. Three-course menus are just €27, which seems like a steal when you get a taste of the food. I was at the Grand Action Cinéma in the Latin Quarter last Friday night to see Roman Holiday on the big screen (part of The 50s Fashion in France exhibition) and since we were early we looked around for a place to grab a bite and glass of wine. Right across the street is Stone, a former French bakery gutted and refashioned as a contemporary Italian venue with pizza by the slice cut from big square trays. ForApéro Hour (5:30-7:30pm) you get two glasses of wine and a slice of pizza (cut into finger food bite sizes) for €10.90. I got a slice with fresh mozzarella, arugula, olive tapenade and sundried tomatoes. If you’re in the neighborhood and are craving pizza and wine, this is worth a stop (note that there’s no sign on the façade, and they close at 8pm). On a final tasty note, David Lebovitz’s newly relaunched Paris Pastry Guide is now available in the Kindle Store and eBook (PDF) format on the Paris Pastry website, as well as iPhone app format in the iTunes app store.
Les Grands d’Espagne: http://lesgrandsdespagne.fr/
Grand Action Cinéma: http://www.legrandaction.com/
Paris Pastry Guide: http://www.paris-pastry.com/


* Collaborative Economy Gets Trendy *
I’ve written about the growing popularity of the “Sharing Economy” in Newsletter 137, and now it seems to be one of the hottest topics of La Rentrée. The cover story of last week’s news magazine Marianne is “La France Anti-Système”, with several pages about how French people who are sick of bureaucracy, taxes, the weak economy and the current administration have decided to stop whining and take matters into their own hands to beat the broken systems by joining forces to get more done efficiently and reduce costs, or by completely “opting out” by creating their own alternative banks, bartering economies, and off-grid living. Ironically, the big bank BNP is the sponsor of the free exhibition The Wave at the Parc de la Villette (through October 5th) highlighting start-ups and innovative projects that promote “Collective Ingenuity”, or the capacity for individuals working together to find simple and efficient solutions using less resources. Even the free metro magazine A Nous Paris has dedicated a few pages between restaurant reviews and concert listings to talk about “Tour Acteurs d’Une Vie Meilleure” and the “Société Positive” where technology and social networking is being used to nurture community spirit and generosity…let’s call it “Fraternité 2.0”. They cite Wim Wenders new documentary The Salt of the Earth and the upcoming conference in Le Havre,P+sitive Economy Forum. An exciting trend to follow for anyone concerned about France’s future! 

P+stivie Economy Forum: http://positiveeconomy.co/


A street in the 13th arrondissement, see it on one of Heather's neighborhood tours! 
* Secrets of Paris News & Calendar *
Don’t forget to check out the latest events happening around town on the Secrets of Paris Calendar, or follow me on Twitter to get daily updates and blurry Instagram pics of my dogs. The next newsletter will be sent in October.
The Secrets of Paris Newsletter has been a monthly newsletter since 1999, but since this year is our 15th anniversary, sometimes I even do two newsletters each month. The newsletter usually includes tips for newcomers and visitors, as well as some that are more useful for Paris residents. If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter and would like to receive it directly in your email, just sign up here. 


Strange for Paris: Pickup trucks. Not strange for Paris: A Yorkie on the lap of a motorcyclist. 



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Reader Comments (1)

When I lived in Paris, my apartment was in the 13th and I couldn't agree more - that arrondissement is so underrated! I absolutely loved the feeling of being part of a real, Parisian neighborhood not crowded with tourists. There are so many great bakeries, restaurants, and shops and you're not to far off the beaten path. Just a short walk or Metro ride to anywhere you want to be. My favorite part of living in the 13th was being able to walk 5 minutes La Mosquee and Rue Mouffetard...and then retreat back to stillness of my neighborhood!
October 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney
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