About Secrets of Paris

Created in 1999, the Secrets of Paris is the oldest independent and locally-owned website about Paris in English, for both visitors and residents. Discover what you've been missing:

* Free Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events 
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Tours & Travel Planning

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here





Calendar of Paris Events

October 21-30 A bit like a smaller, cozier version of the Foire de Paris, the Foire d'Automne at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles is a trade show of food and wine, home decor, beauty and fashion, and all French arts de vivre. Open 10am-7pm, entry €9. 

October 27-29
The last big electronic music festival of the year, the Pitchfork Festival, takes place over three days at the Grande Halle de la Villette (Parc de la Villette, 19th). One-day passes €54,  three-day passes €120.

October 28 - November 1
Stuff yourself with all kinds of chocolately goodies at the annual Salon du Chocolat, at the Paris-Expo - Porte de Versailles (metro line 12), 10am-7pm. Entrance €14. You can get advance tickets online or ask at your favorite chocolate shop if they have any extra invitations. Avoid the weekend unless you're a masochist! Here are some Salon du Chocolat tips from a previous article by Secrets of Paris intern Tara Oakes. 

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 gardens (17)


Tour of the Great Mosque de Paris

Paris is not only a romantic city, it’s also a real melting pot of cultures. And nothing is stranger than when your steps lead you to an exotic architectural site right in its heart.

Click to read more ...


Summer Food & Fun at Grand Train 

One of the most interesting Paris events of the summer is Grand Train. Opened within a disused SNCF train depot in late April, Grand Train features 2000m² of covered halls, courtyards and outdoor space filled with over a dozen bars and eateries, lounge chairs and picnic tables, pétanque courts, a food garden and chicken house, vintage locomotives and different exhibitions about the history of the SNCF (French National Railway, a partner of the event), fuss ball tables, big screens showing fils and even Euro matches, a children's playpen, and daily events such as live music, a craft market, epicerie, yoga sessions, tattoo and barber shop, kids' activities, massage booth, gardening courses, book readings, etc.

Click to read more ...


The Pass' Marie Antoinette 

For all of you Marie-Antoinette aficionados out there, the Centre des Monuments Nationaux has quietly launched a special new Pass’ Marie Antoinette good for four lesser-known monuments in and around Paris that have a strong connection to the young French queen:

Château de Rambouillet: This charming royal residence between Versailles and Chartres (accessible via regional train from Montparnasse station) is known for its vast gardens, with a Rococco Shell Cottage and the Queen's Dairy House. Only part of the actual chateau is open in 2016 while it undergoes renovations. Open daily except Tuesdays. This is a nice little town to visit on a sunny day. 

La Conciergerie: The prison on the Ile de la Cité in central Paris where Marie-Antoinette spent her final months before her trial and death at the guillotine. Open daily 9:30am-6pm.

La Chapelle Expiatoire: This chapel stands in the park where the bodies of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI were originally buried in a mass grave during the Revolution. Note that the inside of the chapel is currently only open May 2nd through September 30th on Thursday-Saturday from 11am-6pm (until 7pm in July and August).  

Saint-Denis Basilica: This basilica where Marie-Antoinette was finally laid to rest during the Restoration Monarchy is where all but three of the French monarchs are buried. It's in the suburb of St-Denis, accessible by metro line 13. Open April- September 10am-6:15 pm, Sundays noon to 6:15pm; October to March 10am to 5pm, Sundays noon to 5:15pm.

How it Works

You get the pass on request when paying the full rate at the first monument, allowing you the discounted rate at the remaining three monuments. It’s a nice alternative for everyone who has already “done” Versailles or anyone who wants to avoid crowds and save a few euros. 


Ticks in Paris

New signs have appeared in all of the parks and gardens of Paris warning visitors of ticks, or tiques. Paris isn't known for having ticks, but they have been found in its larger green spaces like the Bois de Vincennes and in the surrounding natural parks where Parisians go for their Sunday hikes, bike rides and picnics. As Lyme disease is a real risk with any tick bite, be sure to do a close inspection after any extended trips to the park with your family or pets, and if you do find one go to your nearest pharmacy to have it correctly removed (they sell the little tongs specially adapted for tick removal). If you see a round, red spot that might be a tick bite (it will look like a "target"), see your doctor. Lyme disease can be prevented if treated with antibiotics immediately. There is no reason to avoid going to the parks, but awareness is essential, so spread the word.  


Secrets of Paris Photos of the Week

These photos were originally posted this week on my Instagram and Twitter accounts. Come follow me! 

On Wednesday I gave a tour of Paris to Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund. Adorable!

La Défenseur du Temps, in the Quartier de l'Horloge (north of the Centre Pompidou). It used to move every hour, but has been awaiting restoration for almost a decade now. See it working here including the actual sound effects.  

At the end of Crusoe's tour we stopped at a café with the best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

I love foxglove! See here in full bloom at the Jardin de l'Hôtel de Ville

The artists of Lézarts de la Bièvre decorate the neighborhood with street art to celebrate the annual artist atelier open doors the second week of June (this year coming June 13-14).

Pain du Tigre, or "tiger bread" at the Huré Boulangerie, Rue Rambuteau.

The first wild asparagus spotted at the Marché Aguste Blanqui (13th) on Tuesday.

Potatoes from La Noirmoutier at the Marché Auguste Blanqui (13th).


Christmas in France

A guest post by Sharon Autry (click on any photo to see the full size image).

Traveling to France is exciting anytime of the year, but going for Christmas is a vacation you won't soon forget. Paris and all of France dresses for the occasion with lights and decorations which transforms the cities and shopping areas into nothing short of a magical winter wonderland. Having just spent two weeks visiting Paris and Strasbourg, I can say my own decorating skills pale in comparison; the French know how to do it up big!

My Christmas journey began in Paris and took me through the decorated cobblestone streets where the shopkeepers put on their best look for the holiday. I visited several churches to see the Nativity scenes, and then strolled through Luxembourg Gardens. They’re sleeping until spring, but the Medici Fountain is a still beautiful even in the throes of winter.

I have been to Paris before and each time I stood UNDER the Eiffel Tower but never could convince myself to go up into it. This time I decided I would see what all the fuss was about. I highly recommend taking the elevator up because unless you carry an extra pair of legs with you, it will be a long way up and quite a muscle workout. The view from the tower – even just the second level -- cannot be beat: all of Paris is at your feet!

I took a daytrip one hour south of the city to the Chateau Vaux-Le-Vicomte, an absolute must see on your Christmas itinerary. There is nothing to compare the exquisite decorations in each and every room. If you're looking for inspirational holiday decorating ideas for your own home, this is the crème de la crème. The current owners live on the grounds in a different part of the château and as I toured the gardens and the rooms I couldn’t help but envy them for living in such a magical place.

There is a growing anticipation, I am told, every year when the private Musée des Arts Forains (aka Museum of Carnival Arts) opens to the public for the holidays. I was there when the doors opened and I can understand the enthusiastic crowds because this was one man's collection of antique carnival rides, memorabilia, statues and fun games of chance (which you can play).

The main draw of France for me was the idea of visiting the many Christmas markets that are everywhere, filled with regional foods, mulled wine, pastries and those coveted ornaments and decorations that you just can't find anywhere else. I browsed through quite a few in Paris, including the large one along the Champs Élyseés with its magical lights and people going about their gift shopping. But the ultimate destination was to Strasbourg for three days of shopping, sightseeing and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.

Strasbourg is called the Capital of Christmas, and for good reason: the very first Christmas Market opened there in 1570. Today there are actually 11 markets spread out throughout the town, and in between them every single inch of the town is decorated with lights and ornaments, including the streets, alleyways and buildings. In the main square is the largest Christmas tree in all of Europe! Standing watch at the center of it all is the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. If you are a brave soul and want to experience the town and all the surrounding landscape, you can walk up the 333 steps to the top of the cathedral’s tower and enjoy the view.

While in Strasbourg, I visited the Strasbourg Historical Museum that told the story of the region from the Roman times through the Middle Ages and the French Revolution. A newly opened section highlights the struggle the Alsatians endured when they were annexed to Prussia in 1871 and then occupied in WWII by the German Army. I also visited the Alsatian Museum of Art and Folk Tradition, which shares the unique heritage of the Alsatian people. I highly recommend seeing both of these.

Even with the chilly, wet weather, both Paris and Strasbourg are worth a visit during the holidays when they’re full of Christmas cheer in every shop, restaurant, museum and outdoor market. Come with your warmest mittens and an appetite for mulled wine and foie gras!

Sharon Autry lives in Gettysburg, PA, where she takes photos of the historic battlefields for her website Gettysburg Beat