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Friday
Apr102015

Newsletter #151: April 2015

In this Issue:
* Where to Get Parisian Garden Chairs
* Best Baguettes in Paris
* New Discount Paris Airport Bus
* Three Reasons to get to BnF
* Museum Expos for History Addicts
* Visit a Stained Glass Artisan
* Where to Get a Quick Parisian Updo
* Free Student Housing with Seniors 
* Puces getting Posh
* Houseplant SOS
* French Visas for Millennials 
* Suburban Kids Helping the Homeless 
* Share Your Paris Apartment with Heather 
* Paris Travel Planning

* Where to Get the Iconic Parisian Garden Chairs *
A retired friend of mine who spends a lot of time in Paris has become quite addicted to the art of relaxing in Luxembourg Gardens, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked if I knew where he could get his very own Paris garden chair (the reclined one, of course) for his home back in the US. I know TWO places! The Prince Jardinier (who took over the legendary Deyrolle boutique) bought up a huge stock of real Parisian garden chairs destined for the trash heap, and has rehabilitated and painted them in fun colors for the general public to purchase. Of course there’s the not small problem of getting them across the pond. Happily there’s Fermob, a French company dedicated to ecologically-friendly furniture built to last, sold through distributors all over the world (one within 15 minutes’ drive of my friend’s house in Massachusetts). Now you just have to decide on a color…
* Best Baguettes in Paris *
There’s a lot of fanfare each year when the Best Baguette of Paris is announced after a series of blind taste tests. For 2015 it’s the same baker who won in 2010, the Senegalese-born Djibril Bodian of Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses (38 rue des Abbesses, 18th). While most people in Paris like to know where to find the “best” baguette, I don’t know anyone who would actually go to Montmartre for a baguette unless they lived there. In fact, Parisians are so spoiled by excellent bakeries that there is usually an award-winning one within a few blocks. I have at least three within a five-minute walk of my apartment in the 13th, and no doubt if you look at the map created by Paris by Mouth of the top Parisian bakeries you’d find one close to wherever you happen to be. You can also find David Lebovitz's favorite bakeries in the Paris Pastry app when the craving
kicks in for a bite of gluten-full goodness! 

 

* New Discount Paris Airport Bus *
Beginning May 15th, the easyBus Paris Airport Bus is coming to Paris. Run by the same group that does easyJet budget flights and easyCar rentals, the easyBus Airport Bus will provide regular service between Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport and the Place Malraux (right outside the Palais Royal & Louvre, 1st) for just €2 each way per person. That’s not a typo. Two Euros. This is much cheaper than the Air France Buses and the RoissyBus service, but of course in all cases you’ll need to either walk, metro or taxi between the drop-off point and your accommodation (still less of a hassle than taking the RER or a taxi from the airport). There is no service to Orly Airport announced at the moment.

 

* Three Reasons to get to BnF: Candles, Piaf, Péniches *
The Bibliothèque François Mitterrand is a massive, contemporary library complex overlooking the Seine in the 13th arrondissement, just across the river from Bercy Village. I like to go there to run around the vast wooden platform surrounding the library towers (one loop is exactly 1 kilometer), but also for the neighboring MK2 Cineplex with its cozy chairs and futuristic design. There’s a little shopping complex in the cinema lobby selling books, DVDs, American junk food (M&Ms in every flavor, Captain Crunch cereal, Mac & Cheese mix) as well as quirky design objects and original gifts such as the Paris Arrondissement Candles by La Note Parisienne. I thought I’d like the flowery 13th, but I actually prefer the more exotic 18th, which smalls so amazing I coughed up €39 and got one (they’re €45 on the official website). If none of the movies strikes your fancy, check out the Bibliothèque’s new exhibition Piaf, all about the legendary French singer Edith Piaf, opening April 14th through August 23rd. Finally, if the weather is just too fine to be indoors (forecast is looking good for this weekend!), you’re just a few steps from the péniches of the Quai François Mauriac (Port de la Gare), where the moored boats offer riverside dining, drinking, live music and even swimming on the floating Piscine Josephine Baker.

 

* Tudors, Napoleon, Churchill, De Gaulle…Expos for History Addicts *
Not everyone is into art (or maybe you’ve already overdosed on Da Vinci and Monet). History buffs have a choice of several excellent history expositions this spring. While the French Catholics and Huguenots were bloodily duking it out in Paris during the 16th century, across the Channel the Tudors were wreaking their own particular havoc. Learn all about Henry VIII, Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen at The Tudors exposition at the Musée du Luxembourg through July 19th. The Carnavalet History of Paris Museum has a new exhibition Napoléon & Paris: Dreams of a Capital, about the Emperor’s lasting legacy on the City of Light, open April 8 through August 30th. Finally, the Army Museum at Les Invalides is hosting Churchill – De Gaulle, an exhibit to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. The exhibition focuses on their relationship – sometimes allied, sometimes confrontational – and how it evolved throughout WWII and the decades following it, with artifacts, speeches, audiovisual archives, and many documents never displayed before. From April 10 through July 26th.

 

* Visit a Stained Glass Artisan *
Paris-born Hélène de Monteynard started out in magazine publishing, then after taking a break to raise her kids, followed her passion for stained-glass making until she received her French Artisan d’Art diploma and opened La Passe Vitrail, practicing the same techniques that have been used since the Middle Ages. You can see some of her creations online, or contact her for a visit of her private atelier in the 9th arrondissement. She does custom work of all sizes and themes.

* Where to Get a Quick Parisian Updo *For fancy Parisian nights out on the town, or just for the heck of it (and awesome selfies), you can pop into a number of establishments around town for a quick updo. Most Parisian hairdressers will do this, but 365c Hair Stylists specializes in this service, charging just €19-€39 depending on length and complexity of the style you want (it’s not a wash and blow-dry, but just a quick chignon or braid or other fancy or romantic updo). You can see a small selection on their website, but they can do much more (don’t hesitate to bring a photo on your smartphone).They can also do wedding hair and makeup. Locations in the Marais, Montmartre, on the Champs Elysées, and at Le Bon Marché.

* Free Student Housing with Seniors *
If you’re studying full time in Paris and are in need of budget housing, consider living with a senior citizen. The non-profit Ensemble 2 Générations connects seniors and students, with three different “formulas” that go from simply living together so that the senior isn’t alone 24/7, to spending dinners together each evening and helping with tasks around the apartment in return for reduced or free rent. You’ll need to know French, of course, to complete the application and interview.

 

* Puces getting Posh *
The Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen a the Porte de Clignancourt has noticeably changed over the past two years. Out with the fleas, in with “design”, especially in the Marché Paul Bert - Serpette where Philippe Starck’s Ma Cocotte restaurant has led the way in making this once scruffy place of discovery more like an annex of the Faubourg St-Honoré, hosting events during Fashion Week and bragging about visits by Pharrell Williams and Mick Jagger. Stands that once held a jumble of antiques, junk and art are now replaced by what look like theatre sets, with velvet curtains framing a few unique pieces. The historic Marché Vernaison (photo) at the top of the market has held out, but even there a few new shops have adopted this “showroom” style. Of course, that doesn’t mean the street thugs around Porte de Clignancourt metro selling fake Rolexes and Chanel bags have gone away (there are Men in Black style guards in the market to keep them on their side of the Périph’).  A suivre…

 

* House Plant SOS *
If you, like me, are hopeless at keeping house plants alive in your Paris apartment, help is at hand! Every 3rd Saturday of the month (ie April 18th) Mama Petula hosts a mini plant market and house plant clinic at La REcyclerie (Porte de Clignancourt, 18th) You can bring her your droopy ficus, the orchid that won’t flower, or the Peace Lily with the browning leaves and get her advice…or trade them in for some new ones at the market! La REcyclerie is a pretty cool place to visit anyway, with its inexpensive café and urban farm (chickens! goats!), it’s worth a visit even if you don’t have any suffering plants. It’s right outside the Porte de Clignancourt metro station…yes, there’s a sign on the door warning clients to beware pickpockets on the street!

 

* French Visas for Millennials *
In the past, if you weren’t a European was almost impossible to get a working visa for France, even if an employer wants to hire you. But there are some positive changes in the air, including the new initiative by the French American Chamber of Commerce in New York City (FACCNYC) making it easier for Parisian start-ups to hire young (18-35) talent from the United States. If you’re a Millennial hoping to work for a French start-up, check out the article Secret Fast-Track VISA Program in Rude Baguette (a great blog in English about startup culture in France).

 

* Suburban Kids Helping the Homeless *
The disgruntled youth from the rough suburbs of Paris (famous for car burnings and real “no-go” zones) don’t often make the news for anything positive. So it’s nice to see the attention Réchauffons Corps et Coeurs has been getting in the French press. This non-profit was started by a group of French teens aged 17-20 from the Vitry-sur-Seine suburbs who decided to use their free time to help the homeless of Paris, bringing them food, blankets, hot drinks, and sometimes just encouragement and a friendly exchange. They started out by pooling their resources to buy items for the homeless themselves, driving around to distribute wherever they saw the need, but when word got out others began donating supplies and money, prompting them to file for official non-profit status. On their website they ask for volunteers to help with distribution, and for those who can’t help with time or donations to help by spreading the word. Le Parisien wrote an excellent article in French about the group of teens who “would rather help the homeless than play video games”. So if you happen to see teens in “RCC” hoodies walking down the Parisian streets late at night with bags in their hands, they’re most likely delivering food and warm clothes. “It’s important to show that not all of the youth in the Vitry suburbs are deadbeats or thugs,” says one of the organizers, Nassim. If you want to help out, check out their FB or Snapchat (rcc-2015) accounts.    

* Share Your Paris Apartment with Heather *
So last year I was thinking of moving to a bigger flat in Paris. Then my doggies passed away in the fall and I spent a good chunk of the winter in a sunnier place far from Paris. So now of course I want to escape the city every winter. I’m still looking for a bigger Paris apartment, ideally a 40m² unfurnished one on the Left Bank or suburbs if the metro reaches it, no more than €1100 with charges. However if any of you own a nicely furnished Parisian apartment you would be willing to share (meaning I live in it 7-8 months and you can stay there when I’m gone or rent it out short term), I would consider it. Basically, I’m flexible and open to creative solutions as long as they don’t involve me living in a shoebox or far from public transport. Or having to submit a “dossier”. Email me for more info, heather@secretsofparis.com

 

* Paris Travel Planning * 
I know many of you are already planning your Paris vacations now (the favorable US Dollar/Euro exchange rate doesn’t hurt). May and June are already almost 100% booked for Secrets of Paris Tours. If you don’t need a tour but are going crazy with all of the planning, trying to sort out the logistics and how to prioritize what to do and see in a short period of time without overstretching yourselves, don’t forget I also offer one-on-one Travel Planning sessions by phone or Skype to help you sort it all out and create a solid plan that feels like a vacation, not a chore. The price is €200 for a 90-minute session and follow up emails, contact me if you’d like to schedule one this spring. 

 

* April Events *
Read about events happening around town on the Secrets of Paris Calendar, or follow me on Twitter to get daily updates and blurry Instagram pics of Paris on my morning runs. The next newsletter will be sent in early May. 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Hello. I am planning a visit to Paris for a prominent couple from US and your newsletter has been vey helpful. Would you also know of unique boutiques in Paris, special fashion for older ladies, toy shops, typical Parisian shoe boutique and more...thnk you!
April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAntonia
Hello Antonia,
Yes, I do know of many unique boutiques, many mentioned here in my newsletters. If you'd like a customized list don't hesitate to email me to set up a travel planning session. - Heather
April 17, 2015 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
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