About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here


Calendar of Paris Events

Book NOW for September 5-6
The American Church of Paris is hosting A Prarie Home Companion radion show with Garrison Keillor for two dates, September 5th at 8pm and September 6th at 4pm. Tickets are €31, book as soon as possible, space is limited.

Through August 24
The Paris Fun Fair (Fête Foraine) is open in the Tuileries (Louvre Gardens), daily 11am-11:45pm (until 12:45am on Friday and Saturday). Free entrance, but you’ll need to buy tickets for each ride on the usual carnival attractions, or have cash for cotton candy and the games where you can win prizes. The Ferris Wheel has excellent views over Paris! 

Through August 24
The annual Open-Air Cinema Festival takes place Wed-Sun nights at the Parc de la Villette's Triangle Prairie (M° Porte de Pantin), starting at sunset (around 10pm), free entry. This year's theme is Adolescence, including films such as Moonrise Kingdom, Scream 4, and American Graffiti.

Through August 31
Between the Lines and the Trenches, a very intimate collection of personal letters, notebooks and photos from the trenches, many never published before. At the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts (222 Boulevard Saint-Germain), through August 31st, entry €7.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CALENDAR

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

« Newsletter #117: May 10, 2012 | Main | From Tourist to Artist: Bobby Chitwood at L'Espace 35 »
Friday
May112012

ParisSharing: An Authentic Parisian Experience

I met up this month with Carsten Sprotte to talk about his company ParisSharing, his experience as an American expat in Paris, and his advice for visitors to his adopted home.

Secrets of Paris:
You're one of the long-timers, an expat living in Paris for over 15 years. As much as you're probably sick of answering the question, could you give us an idea of what brought you here, what made you stay, and what has kept you here all these years?

Carsten Sprotte:
Well Heather, that's the first time anybody has ever referred to me as a long-timer! What will it be next time I'm invited back? 

My story started out as so many: I was borne across the sea by romantic illusions. The catch is that I became quickly and chronically fascinated by French language and culture. With all I thought I knew about the world as an American, I was astonished at my own ignorance. You know, I didn't pry open and slurp up my first fresh oyster until the age of 26 ! It was a bit of an initiation rite (among many others). Having started from scratch (learning bonjour at the age of 19), it required a good seven years before I had really integrated (to use a French formulation) into French society. Now, I would say that being entirely bi-cultural is a quintessential part of who I am. That, along with the fact that I still find Paris and France stunningly beautiful, explains why I'm happy to stay.

SoP:
There are quite a few apartment rental websites in Paris. I like your company's focus on the local community. Can you explain a bit about why you decided to go into this market, and how you have made ParisSharing different from the competition?

CS:
From a very practical standpoint, I simply observed that there were thousands of apartments in Paris left unoccupied while their owners were away on six or more weeks of French holiday, while at the same time there were thousands of couples and families wanting to visit Paris and having a very hard time finding affordable and enjoyable accommodations. In our brave new world of social media and collaborative consumption, I figured this would be a big market. True, I'm not the only one to have thought of this at roughly the same time.

I'm glad you picked up on our community spirit. What I want to offer our guests on ParisSharing is not just a place to stay, but an experience that I like to call joie de vivre à la parisienne. This is the idea that Paris is here to dazzle you, even change your life a bit. If it doesn't, then you've missed the point. But for that to happen, you have to leave the herd behind and try to live for a few days like a Parisian, next to Parisians. ParisSharing makes these experiences possible, in the best of conditions. Whether you rent a self-catering apartment or stay in a B&B, ParisSharing puts you in contact with locals or expats who will make you feel at home. We blend this grass-roots approach (real homes, real people, local products) with reliable business standards (online booking & payment, welcome books, concierge services, loyalty program, etc) to make for a terrific experience. Well, that's for our guests to tell.

SoP:
If you could wave a magic wand and change the experience of every visitor to Paris, what would you want them to learn/experience?

CS:
Come on Heather, they should just hire you a tour guide! Well, come to think of it, I'm constantly trying to make what you call "the magic wand" into real services as I previously described. On a more personal note, I would like people not to focus on what they think they have to see, but rather on discovering something and following their own bliss. It's like living your own life rather than the life someone said you should live. In Paris, there's something for everyone. On a very practical level, I would advise visitors to use public bikes (with caution) or to walk, walk, walk. When you do so, visiting is no longer about going from site to site, but everything in between. And there is so much in between!

I happen to believe that the experience of either fine or home-style French cuisine is worth ten visits to the Eiffel tower. Consequently, I wish people would not have to suffer tourist-trap restaurants. With all the information we provide there is really is no excuse!

Finally, for couples in love, I would recommend that they kiss extensively, in one of the thousand public spots that Paris provides for such purposes. If you're not sure where to find them, hire a qualified tour guide or inquire on ParisSharing!

SPECIAL

All Secrets of Paris tour clients get a special discount when booking with ParisSharing: 

- $50 off all stays of at least 5 nights, plus an extra $10 for each additional night.

- For any length of stay, one colorful "culotte" of your choice from the parisienne brand "Germaine des près" OR a pair of of dark & milk chocolate tablettes from Chloe Chocolats OR a dozen postcards from the ParisSharing collection.

Just mention "Secrets of Paris" when booking as your referee, and you'll receive your discount and goodies. For any questions, contact ParisSharing at welcome@paris-sharing.com

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