Newsletter #98: April 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Heather Stimmler-Hall in Chocolate Museum, Mont St-Michel, Newsletter, Paris sales, Video game Museum, Yannick Suznjev, music festivals, shopping, volunteer


* My Weekend at Mont St Michel
* Shopping in a Private Parisian Apartment
* Noteworthy Fashion Boutique in St-Germain-des-Près
* Villa Madame Floral Art Classes
* Discount Hair Products
* New Paris Chocolate Museum
* And a Video Game Museum for La Défense
* Vote for Secrets of Paris Blog
* Les Soldes?
* Your Local Town Hall
* SOS Amitiés Needs French-Speaking Volunteers
* Fondation des Etats-Unis
* Rock-en-Seine Headliners Announced
* Solidays: The French Lollapalooza?
* Secrets of Paris #100!
* Updated Pets in Paris Resource Guide
* Naughty News
* Are you on the list?


* My Weekend at Mont St Michel *

Rented a car and took a few friends up to Le Mont Saint Michel last weekend. Some of the highlights: gorgeous sunny weather, my first drive all the way around the Arc de Triomphe (I usually chicken out and take the side roads), avoided getting towed in Villedieu-les-Pôeles (had the “enlèvement demandée” sticker on windshield), found the “impossible to find” statue of St-Michael at one of the boutiques for my (somewhat obsessed) friend, and didn’t trip once on any of those stairs! Bummers of the weekend: getting a parking ticket in less than five minutes outside a Paris hotel, having to point out to a barman that “a glass of red” doesn’t usually mean a glass of Port (even if it was actually fortified Spanish red wine), not taking a photo of the giant omelet that I miraculously finished at Mère Poulard, and the €70 it cost to refill the Renault Scenic’s tank in Paris (and that’s diesel, ahem). See the photo gallery here.

* Shopping in a Private Parisian Apartment *

Imagine if you had a fashion-savvy Italian friend in Paris, that she regularly returns from Italy with racks of carefully-chosen women’s clothing, some from well-known designers, others from up-and-coming brands, all at seriously discounted prices. Miki is that friend, and she welcomes you (and your friends) to her lovely apartment on the Rue St-Honoré for a casual apéro and shopping session. No crowds, no pressure, no rude sales people. Mika even gave me some (very good) advice about my hair color. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without her! Available daily by appointment, tell her I sent you: Visit her website or read a great article about Miki at “Prête Moi Paris!”

* Noteworthy Fashion Boutique in St-Germain-des-Près *

I don’t normally write about too many boutiques simply because there are soooo many fabulous ones in Paris it would be difficult to pick favorites. But last night I was walking down the Rue Dauphine and happened upon the newly-opened Vostik boutique (34 rue Dauphine, 6th). The beautifully-presented, very girly clothing caught my eye right away: delicate, lacey, silky, diaphanous, tops and dresses along with edgy, super-soft t-shirts and whimsical accessories. I casually glanced at a price tag, expecting to see at least three digits. Mais non! Everything I looked at was under €100, t-shirts under €50. The friendly young designer, based in Paris, was there in the boutique herself, and graciously allowed me to take a photo. There’s another boutique at 16 rue du Petit-Thouars, 3rd, but there’s something so refreshing about finding an affordable clothing boutique in St-Germain-des-Près , and I don’t even have to cross the Seine, ha!

* Villa Madame Floral Art Classes *

The Villa Madame, a lovely boutique hotel between St Sulpice and Luxembourg Gardens, now hosts floral décor ateliers by the talented and charming young floral designer, Yannick Suznjev (whose boutique is around the corner at 33 rue de Vaugirard, 6th). He’ll explain why different styles of vases are easier to use than others, how to shop for flowers that will last a long time, and show you how to properly cut the stems without removing your thumb (if I still have mine, then anyone can do it!). The two-hour classes take place in the hotel’s sunny garden courtyard, accompanied by tea and divine little pastries, €110 for individuals or €90/person for groups up to eight. To sign up for the Ateliers Fleuris call 01 45 48 02 81 or email

* Discount Hair Products *

In the last newsletter many of you appreciated the addresses for discount parapharmacies in Paris. This month I found Coiffure BB, a 40-year-old company in Nice that sells high end hair brands such as Kérastase and Redken (in bulk size!) at wholesale prices through their website.

* New Paris Chocolate Museum *

Paris already has something like 130 museums, but there are always new ones opening. Now the city has its own Chocolate Museum on the Grands Boulevards called Choco-Story: La Musée Gourmand du Chocolat. So, great idea or gimmick? Mea culpa, I haven’t visited yet, but I hope that for the €9 entry fee the museum is more interesting than the website!

* And a Video Game Museum for La Défense *

Last week the first Video Game Museum, La Musée du Jeu Vidéo, opened on the top floor of La Grande Arche de La Défense. I’m hoping they’ll have my very first video game, Hunt the Wumpus, which I used to play on my TI-94/A (which itself is in the Arts-et-Métiers Museum, above…I feel really old now). The museum is open daily 10am-8pm, and if you’re not impressed with the €10 entry price, at least the views over Paris from the Arche will be amazing.

* Vote for Secrets of Paris Blog, SVP *

Okay, someone nominated me for the Blogger’s Choice Award, and I’m not trying to pressure anyone, but it sure would be swell if I had more than one vote (I’ll be the first to admit that writers have fragile egos). ;-)

* Les Soldes? *

Once upon a time, the Paris Sales were only held twice a year. But slowly the laws have been relaxed and now that the economy needs a boost stores don’t even need to disguise their “Soldes” as “Les 6 Jours du BHV”. Case in point, this week (April 21-27), both Galeries Lafayette and BHV are having sales throughout their stores. Perhaps the crowds won’t be as bad!

* Your Local Town Hall *

If you live in Paris, read French, and are interested in what’s going on in your neighborhood (if none of these apply to you, move along, nothing to see here), you might want to bookmark your local Mairie’s website. They are all attached to the Mairie de Paris site, and look so much better than they did a year ago! My site for the Mairie du 13e is To find yours, just replace the “13” with your own arrondissement. If you’ve never visited your local town hall, you might be surprised to discover how many free cultural events you’ve been missing.

* SOS Amitiés Needs French-Speaking Volunteers *

The oldest 24-hour suicide hotline in France, SOS Amitiés (since 1960), is looking for volunteer listeners (écoutants) to work at their eight Parisian locations, training provided. Obviously you need to speak French, and if you don’t, please spread the word.

* Fondation des Etats-Unis *

Ever since the 1995 demise of the American Center (in the Frank Gehry building that now houses the Cinémathèque de Paris), there has only been one American cultural center in Paris, and a discreet one at that! The Fondation des Etats-Unis is part of the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, across the street from the Parc Montsouris in the 14th. Since 1930 it has hosted American students, and has different cultural exhibitions and concerts throughout the year. Stop by on April 28 for the vernissage of the American painter Lucy Kirkman, from 6:30pm.

* Rock-en-Seine Headliners Announced *

The 2010 Rock-en-Seine Festival (August 27-29 at the Domain de Saint Cloud) headliners have been announced: Massive Attack, Blink 182, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Queens of the Stone Age, Cypress Hill, Roxy Music, Paolo Nutini, andUnderworld. Shall we start a pool now to guess who will cancel five minutes before they’re scheduled to start? ;-) The 3-day passes are already on sale online for €99 (one-day passes at €45). They go fast!

* Solidays: The French Lollapalooza? *

Of course you don’t have to wait until August to hear some good music while drinking beer from a plastic cup. Solidays, June 25-27 at the Paris Longchamp Hippodrome, is a bit like the French Lollapalooza, with stands promoting the awareness, prevention and treatment of AIDS/HIV. Most of the 75 bands are French (or only known in France), but I’m looking forward to seeing Wax Tailor, M, and Arcade Fire. The three-day passes are already sold out (all 10,000 went in 9 minutes, apparently), so you’ll have to get the weekend pass (€42) plus one day pass (€32) to see the whole festival.

* Secrets of Paris #100! *

The very first official Secrets of Paris Newsletter was sent out to about one hundred readers in January 2001. That was so long ago that the prices were still in French Francs! Despite the fact that I’ve skipped a few months between 2001 and 2010, the 100th edition is certainly coming this summer to over 6000 subscribers (that would be you), but unlike the super-organized ladies of the K&K Podcast, I have absolutely nothing planned yet to celebrate (secretly, I want to go to Disneyland, but something tells me that may be a solo run). But stay tuned, dear readers, because I will think of something fitting for the momentous occasion, and you will all be invited. In case I don’t say it enough, the support and loyalty of the Secrets of Paris readers, old and new, has carried me through many of life’s ups and downs over the past ten years. Merci beaucoup!!! :-)

* Updated Pets in Paris Resource Guide *

If you’ve been on the Secrets of Paris website lately (and I hope you do come and visit from time to time), you may have noticed that I have once again tweaked the layout. The Resource Guide is now easier to navigate with little pictures on the sidebar. I just updated the Pets in Paris section, and have received a lot of great feedback and suggestions. Have a peek if you’re a Parisian pet owner and let me know what you think.

* Naughty News *

Stop by to see the newly unveiled cover for the Naughty New York Guide. We’re also having a "Share the Love" Spring Special: Two Copies of Naughty Paris for the Price of One (through May 18). I’ve been told it makes a much-appreciated Mother’s Day gift. ;-)

* Are you on the list? *

If you’ve been reading this newsletter on the website, please consider subscribing to have emailed directly to you each month. It’s free, and all you have to do is enter your e-mail address in the box at:  The benefit? You’ll get your own copy sent directly to your inbox every month, and I’ll have a better idea of how many of you are actually reading. Thanks! –Heather  

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