Secrets of Paris 
featured in:


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 Secrets of Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

Calendar of Paris Events

October 4
One of the greatest contemporary British comedians, Eddie Izzard, is bringing his show Force Majeure back to Paris, this time....en français! Mais oui! He'll be performing at the Casino de Paris one night before moving onto a week-long tour in other French cities. Even if your French sucks, you'll likely be able to follow along Eddie's own version of Franglais as he explains World History, God, Hitler, and other light topics. Tickets from FNAC starting at €25.

October 8-11
The annual Puces du Design is a free market of vintage furniture and home decor from the 1950s to today, at the Place des Vins behind Bercy Village, 12th. Over 100 stands, free entry. 

October 8-18
Celebrate Oktoberfest in Paris all week long in a huge Bavarian-themed tent at the Porte de la Villette (19th), tickets €34-€44, including €15 of drink tickets.  There will be music, Bavarian Cancan dancers, and plenty to eat and drink. Dust off the lederhosen and be ready for fun! 

Through October 18
The 32nd annual funfair carnival, the Fête à Neu Neu, opens on August 30th in the Bois de Boulogne (Porte de la Muette, 16th, M° Rue de la Pompe). Open 4pm-midnight Mon, Tues, & Thurs; 2pm-midnight Wed & Fri; and noon to midnight Sat-Sun. Free entry, ATM, Vélib station, food tents and rides (tickets purchased onsite).  

Click here to see the full calendar of events...

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

Entries in France (37)


Eradicating Bed Bugs in Paris

Last week a friend of mine in Paris emailed in a panic: her neighbor told her he had bedbugs, and she already found a few suspicious bites on her arms. I told her not to freak out until she was 100% sure they were bedbug bites. But I was already freaking out for her.

Last fall I got bed bugs, aka punaises de lit.

Click to read more ...


Rain Boots Hand Made in France


We've had a rainy fall in Paris. In fact, we've had a rainy year. And for those of us who spend a lot of time walking around outside for hours at a time, a good pair of waterproof shoes is essential, and nothing is better than a cute pair of rubber boots, or 'wellies', as the Brits call them (aka Wellington boots).

But you can't just wear any old pair of rubber boots. If you want a high-quality pair of boots that are both comfortable enough for cobblestone streets and fashionable enough to blend in with the Parisians, check out Aigle, a French bottier since 1853.

The price depends on the model of the boots, ranging from €29 to €250. For example, the Miss Juliette ankle boots in the photo above are €125; the solid colors are €95). There are often discounts online for patterns from last season, but I would recommend trying some on in a store to get a good feel before buying online.

You can find them in department stores and online, but there are also dedicated Aigle boutiques throughout France, including seven in Paris (Marais, St-Germain-des-Prés, Opéra, Beaugrenelle, St-Lazare, Italie 2 and Ternes). The selection for men, women and children is huge, with different heel heights, colors, patterns, high boots or ankle boots, fur-lined, or padded, city boots or country boots, light-weight or winter boots, and evn rubber clogs for gardening. There are also special limited edition patterns from partners (like Liberty, Petit Bateau, or Nature et Découvertes). The hardest thing is to choose just one! 

If that still seems pricey for a pair of rubber boots, keep in mind these are still HAND MADE in France by master rubber craftsmen (or craftswomen?) since 1853. As someone who has worn cheap rubber boots that are uncomfortable, ugly or wear out quickly, I can tell you there is no comparison. Aigle also sells regular workboots and a line of outdoor and casual clothing. 

139 Blvd St-Germain 75006 
M° Mabillon or St Germain-des-Prés 

And let's admit it: jumping into puddles is just a lot of fun, no matter how old you are! 


New French Law Makes it Easy to Chage Insurance Providers 

Good news for those of you living in France: the newly enacted “Loi Hamon” allows consumers to easily – and without any fees – change their car, motorcycle, home or rental insurance providers at any time after one year. That means no more complicated “resiliation” procedures, registered letters or penalty fees if, after the initial year, you find a better offer elsewhere.

Click to read more ...


New Budget Coach Travel to French Cities 

It’s getting cheaper and more comfortable to travel by bus around France and Europe.

Isilines is a new coach service by Eurolines offering very cheap fares on bus routes that aren’t already covered by Eurolines, and in many cases allowing you to travel between small French towns without having to be routed through big cities like Paris, Lyon, or Marseille which is usually the case when taking the train).

The rates for one-way tickets fluctuate depending on the dates, but with their chart it’s easy to see when the cheapest fares are available. Just a quick glance I found the following fares: Paris to Lille €5, Paris to Bordeaux €14, Paris to Aix-en-Provence €18.

Superior Comfort and Amenities

All busses have free WiFi, electric and USB outlets, personal fold-down table, a/c and light control (like in an airplane), no charge for bags, and huge comfy seats that recline. All stations are in city centers, so no more airport shuttles, and buses actually go slow enough to enjoy the views of the French countryside (ever try taking a photo from the window of a TGV zipping through sunflower fields at 275km/h?) If you've got the time, it can be a great way to travel, see the countryside, and avoid the busy airports and train stations.

European Travel

Isilines only covers France (they’ll be adding more stations through 2016). You can also check out the European-wide routes offered by Eurolines and the the SNCF-operated OuiBus (formerly known as iDBus) wich has a 15 or 30-day pass covering 53 European cities.


How to Get Real Iced Tea in France

There's nothing like a refreshing glass of iced tea when the temperatures start rising. But if it's your first time in France, beware that the "iced tea" on the menu probably isn't what you think it is.

First, if it's a French menu and the beverage is listed as Ice Tea, it's probably Lipton or Nestea brand "Ice Tea" in a can or bottle. Industrial iced tea might not bother you (it can't be worse than carbonated soft drinks, right?)

But if you don't look closely at the label before taking a swig, you may be unpleasantly surprised to find that its peach flavored. No, you didn't ask for peach, and the menu didn't say peach. But in France pêche is the default flavor of iced tea. In the US -- unless maybe you're from the South -- it's usually lemon. And they have lemon (and raspberry and mango) flaor in France, but that's not necessarily what you'll get in a café. 

So how do you get actual iced tea? Look for "Thé glacé maison" and ask the server if it's from a bottle or made fresh. Then ask if it's nature (unflavored), citron (lemon) or pêche (peach), if you have a preference.

I've had real iced tea at Ladurée and Carette (pictured on the left), both which are tearooms, and both times they were unflavored and unsweetened. In this case they bring the sugar for you to sweeten it yourself. If you've never made your own iced tea, you might be a bit humbled to discover just how much sugar you have to put in there to get it to taste "normal". I just drink it without sugar, a perfect accompaniment to the rich chocolate pastries I can't resist!


Paris Street Art of the Week

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll notice I take a lot of photos of the Parisian street art (and yes, I'm a bit obessesed with the Lo-Fi filter). I live in the 13th, where many internationally renowned street artists have decorated buildings, usually at the invitation of the local Mairie (town hall) or art galleries in the district.

The brown electric boxes which normally go unnoticed (which I assume are for street lights, traffic lights, etc.) make great canvases. So far I've only seen them decorated in the 13th. 

The first four below are by Pimax, who usually does the Marilyn Monroe graffitti around town.

The street artist Moyoshi has a very distinct style, seen in the two boxes below. This series is numbered (here #05 and #07 of 13 total). His work is often in street art galleries, such as Le Lavo//Matic.

This artwork below is part of my neighborhood's artists' network Lézarts de la Bièvre, which is having their Portes Ouvertes June 13-14. Sorry, I'm not sure who the artist is! 

And here are some other interesting street art works I've seen around Paris this week, the first two from a large street mural in the 13th, Rue Boussingault in the 13th.

This one is from the Rue des Recollets in the 10th.

And this below was seen on a funky 1950s (?) building along the Petite Ceinture rail-to-trail path in the 15th.

These painting below of Dali and Serge Gainesbourg are on the facade of a tattoo shop next to the Jardin des Plantes (5th), so they're not technically street art, but they convey the same feel and I like them.

If you're a street art fan, there are several events coming up that you might like:

-  June 5th: wrap-party for the end of the Artiste-Ouvrier exposition at Lavo//Matik, 6-10pm

- June 7th: a street art auction of 93 lots at the Blancs-Manteaux Auction (Marais), from 3pm

- June 13th: 10th annual Murs Ouvertes opening night at at Lavo//Matik, 3-9:30pm

- June 14th: the annual Salon Emmaüs flea market for charity will have street artists on site to decorate any items of your choosing, at Porte de Versailles Expo Hall 9:30am-7pm, €3 entrance