Secrets of Paris 
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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

Through October 3
Don't miss one of the most magical events of the summer, the Candlelit Evenings at the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte, just an hour south of Paris by RER and shuttle. Visit the family-owned palace and gardens that inspired Versailles by candlelight, including dinner in the gardens (or bring your own picnic or book a table for a gourmet meal starting at €59) and a fireworks finale. Every Saturday evening, entry €19.50. 

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).  

September 11-13
The annual Fête de l'Humanité is three days of live music (65 acts including headliners Manu Chao, Texas, and Juliette Gréco), debates (because the French love a good debate), arts and cinema expositions, a bal populaire, a book fair, and activities for kids. The main sponsor/organizer is the daily newspaper L'Humanité, whose motto is "Envie de Changer Le Monde" (The desire to change the world), so you can imagine it's quite a leftie leaning festival where politics, social justice and liberty are the main stars. This year it takes place in La Corneuve (northeast suburbs), and three-day passes are just €32 (€35 at the door; camping and parking also possible). 

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 Paris (284)

Wednesday
Aug262015

Rock-en-Seine Festival Live Streaming

Didn't get tickets to this year's three-day Rock-en-Seine music festival in the Domaine de St-Cloud just outside Paris? You can now watch the concerts live in streaming and archived here on the CultureBox feed throughout the duration of the festival, including The Libertines, The Offspring, Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand & Sparks, The Chemical Brothers, and Hot Chip, among many more. Starting Friday August 28th, stay tuned!

Monday
Aug242015

A Very Special Stuffed Animal Boutique in Paris

A very special thanks to Jason Lee Wong and Martine Marras for sharing this adorable video with Secrets of Paris (subtitles in English):

"Behind a packed shop of plush animals, in the 14th district of Paris, is Patrick - "Monsieur Peluche" - an amazingly friendly and chatty man you wouldn't expect to own a toy shop. This two minute portrait video specifically was made for the Sony FS7 competition in Europe during the month of November 2014. Patrick, however, did not want his face to be filmed - which provided an interesting challenge that ended up a part of the creative narrative."

Tout en Peluche
39 rue Raymond Losserand, 14th
M° Pernety
Tel 09 52 18 22 51

 

 

Saturday
Aug222015

Unique Art Prints in Paris

If you're near the Centre Pompidou, don't miss the Sergeant Paper Art Store (38 rue Quincampoix, 4th), a concept store which promotes and sells original art prints and screen prints by well-known and up-and-coming artists in the field of urban arts, graphic arts and illustration. They are priced to be accessible, in limited editions signed by the artists.

All Photos from Sergeant Paper

You can find prints by the internationally-renowned street artists like Shepard Fairey (of "Obey" and Obama"Hope" poster fame), screen prints of music festival posters like the Gallows from Hellfest, and cool vintage-style posters reminiscent of the old French Chemin de Fer publicity posters from the artist Mads Berg. 

Shepard Fairey art posters with a Rodchenko touch.

Hellfest poster for Gallows and Mads Berg art print. 

I bought my friend a limited-edition print of an illustration that was originally created by the French artist Cruschiform for the Taschen book Cabins. It's called Monks Cabin (below). 

You can purchase their artworks online to be shipped, or you can pick them up in the boutique. The sturdy mailing tube and certificate of authenticity are included with every purchase. They also sell art books and organic cotton t-shirts, scarves, hats, etc. under their Paris-made brand Sergeant Cotton. Open Tues-Sat, noon-8pm.

As an aside, you should visit the Rue Quincampoix even if you're not shopping for prints. I have always loved this historic, virtually car-free cobblestone street, almost always calm despite being in the center of Paris. When I was a student in the 1990s I would hang out with my friends at L'Imprévu, a quirky little café and bar at the bottom of the street that has barely changed in 20 years.

When I first got married and worked at ELLE.com I lived right around the corner on the Rue du Grenier St-Lazare, and always preferred taking the Rue Quincampoix to avoid walking through the ugly 1970s modernism of the Quartier de l'Horloge next to it (although I still like the old Défenseur du Temps). 

Aside from the Starbucks on the corner of the largest intersection, most of the street remains populated by art galleries, hidden little bars, and specialty shops (spraypaint, craft beer, Japanese calligraphy, nuts). 

Wednesday
Aug192015

Calm Down, There's No Baguette Crisis in Paris

In what could probably be a regular segment called "Busting the Click-Bait Misinformation", yet another "news" story circulating in the English-speaking press about Paris needs correcting.

France fears baguette crisis as bakers allowed to take holidays (Daily Telegraph, UK)

What a pain! Parisians are facing a baguette crisis after change to French law gives bakers the summer off (Daily Mail, UK)

Paris faces 'baguette crisis' as government axes archaic law banning mass exodus of bakers (Evening Standard, UK)

SACRE BLEU! Parisians fear baguette shortage as bakers go on vacation (NY Daily News, US)

Exaggeration and fear-mongering apparently get clicks (duh, no breaking news there). As usual, they all seem to have rehashed the exact same story (typical when reporters no longer do original research), all quoting some mysterious guy, Anthony Stephinson as the expert on the subject of Parisian bakeries (he happens to be a British desiger living in Paris). No actual stats or bothering to do even the most basic research to get the facts straight.

These are the facts:

- Yes, France had a law dating back to the end of the French Revolution that would assure access to bread by requiring bakeries to alternate their summer closing times (so only half would ever be closed at any given time), and to post the address of the nearest open bakery when they were closed. Pharmacies are subject to a similar law.

- For years many French bakeries who were losing money by staying open when too many of their clients were on vacation simply closed anyway and paid the fines. 

- In 2014 the French government decided to do away with the archaic law, thus removing the bureaucratic nonsense of having to enforce it, and allowing the bakers the freedom to decide for themselves what would best serve their clients and their bottom line.

Editorial aside: This is what should be getting headlines! 

Instead of the English-language press focusing on the newsworthy fact that France has modernized and streamlined their laws to give French boulangers the right to make their own business decisions, they look for the negative angle. And when there isn't one, they just make it up.

- Not only did half of the bakeries in Paris stay open anyway (particularly in any areas where there are tourists or a majority of the locals who stay and work all summer), the danger is that they still have too many unsold baguettes, not a shortage.

The French press had a lot of fun discrediting the badly-researched articles:

- Plenty of bread in Paris: French media deny reports of 'baguette crisis' (RFI English Version)

- Don't panic, there is no 'baguette crisis' in Paris! (Du Bon Pain)

- Tous les Boulangers du quartier fermes au mois d'Août, c'est normal (BFM TV, in French

- Non, Paris n'est pas menacée par une pénurie estivale de pain (Le Figaro, in French)

Cet été, les boulangers parisiens partent en vacances quand ils veulent (Le Parisien, in French)

- The France-based British tabloid The Local also "reported" on the supposed crisis with a whopping one reader quoted as proof of the "crisis", but had to "amend" their article due to all of the mocking by none other than Buzzfeed, who actually did their own research (I can't believe I'm saying anything nice about Buzzfeed) to demonstrate the sheer stupidity of this non-crisis. 

In my neighborhood at the edge of the Latin Quarter and the Butte aux Cailles, three of the four bakeries within a block have remained open all of August (two closed for a week or two in July). Within three blocks there are four more bakeries, two which are closed for two or three weeks this month. All of them are excellent, although of course I have my preferences and don't always like walking the extra block. 

Call it a First-World Problem, but don't call it a "crisis". 

Tuesday
Aug182015

Former Paris Policeman Creates Videos on Avoiding Travel Scams 

Like any large city, Paris has its fair share of scammers, pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Visitors don't need to be paranoid, but being aware of the most common tactics used by thieves will help you be prepared in case they decide to target you. 

Safety Scouts Advice is a series of animated videos created by former Paris policeman Christophe Gadenne to help visitors to Paris and other big European cities avoid becoming victims. During his five years of working with the Paris Police, he met countless distraught, traumatized tourists from around the world who had their vacations ruined by thieves and scammers, so he decided to do something about it (incidentally, Christophe also just a really nice guy, married to a friend of mine). 

There are 39 videos currently in the series (with new ones posted regularly), searchable by city or country (Paris, Italy, Spain, Berlin, and Lisbon) or by topics such as:

- The 10 worst pickpocket tricks revealed

- The 5 ATM scams to avoid while traveling

- The 5 worst taxi scams revealed

- Fake apartment rental

- Preventing female assault

- Drink spiking

- Loitering hotel thief

- Unsolicited ticket helper

- Train distraction thief

- Fake petition pickpocket

- Flat tire scam

You can also read Christophe's interview in The Guardian article, "French former policeman turns to animation to warn tourists of crime" and because you can never be 100% safe from pickpockets, be sure to re-read my article from 2011 "Do Yourself a Favor: Be prepared for Pickpockets."

Friday
Aug142015

Can You Wear Shorts in Paris? 

Laurent, a stylish Parisian in picnic mode.

I get asked this question a lot. Especially this summer, which has been unseasonably hot (between 85°F-102°F off and on since early July). I always answer the same way: yes, of course you can! But then I have to go into the more extended version of that answer, because it's not a simple question. 

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