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

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).  

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to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Entries in Paris (294)


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.

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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! 


Bathroom, Lounges, and Left Luggage at Gare du Nord Train Station

Of Paris' five passenger train stations (Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est, Gare St-Lazare, Gare de Lyon, and Gare Montparnasse), the Gare du Nord is the one that my tour clients use the most.  This is the station for the high speed trains including the Eurostar (Great Britain, Belgium, Northern France) and the Thalys (Netherlands, Northern Germany, Northern France, and Belgium). 

Like most busy European train stations, it can be a bit disorienting for new arrivals from London or Amsterdam to navigate the facilities. Happily, they're always improving. 

- Bathrooms: all arrivals come into the main Grands Lignes platforms; the nearest bathrooms are one level down, right at the foot of the escalators on the way to the Metro or RER (in fact, you may see the " M/RER" signs before you see the bathroom sign at the top of the escalator, so follow them if you're lost). The bathrooms are very clean and cost €0.70, paid to the attendant at the desk who will give you change if needed, but now you can also pay by credit card, a lifesaver for those of you with no Euros (or no small bills/coins). 

- Lounges: If you're traveling by Eurostar you go up an escalator and through security to the dedicated Eurostar lounge (with bathrooms, dining, shops, seating). If you're traveling by Thalys there is a new, dedicated lounge opened in July just outside the station, across the street from the taxi stand, at 22 rue Dunkerque. Other travelers can try and get a spot in the Salon Grand Voyageur (open 7am-9pm) or squat one of the few places to sit in the main hall (there are plenty of snack stands, newsstands, and some seating); don't get there too early when it's very cold because the platforms are open-air, thus no heating in the station.  

- Left Luggage: If you need to store your suitcases or bags for up to 24 hours there is a Left Luggage service, aka Consignes, just across from platform #2 and down the stairs (photo below). If you walk too far past the first platform and along the wall, you'll see a sign that says "Baggages". DO NOT FOLLOW THAT SIGN, it's for pre-checked bags (I found this out the hard way after following the signs all the way around the back of the station....creepy!). The Consignes lockers only take coins, the largest storage lockers are €9.50, smaller ones for €7.50 and 5.50 (one flat fee no matter how long they're in there, up to 24 hours). The bill changer is very sensitive and took ten minutes to figure out, so if you can come prepared with coins you're better off. Directions are in different languages. Make sure you get the receipt with the open code, and that you know the opening hours: 6:15am-11:15pm. 

- Security: Although much has been written about the safety issues in train stations since the foiled gunman attack on the Amsterdam-Paris Thalys in August, there is no reason to be anxious about train travel. It's one of the fastest, most comfortable and most efficient ways to get around Europe. The Eurostar is the only train service that currently scans baggage and checks passports (like at the airport), but you will see many police officers and armed military patrolling all of the stations in Paris. The biggest security risk is getting pick pocketed or having your bag snatched, so be vigilant about keeping your eyes on your belongings (because whatever isn't stolen will likely be designated "unattended" and the entire station will close while they bring in bomb-sniffing dogs). 

- Fun Shop: On a more positive note, one of my favorite new shops, HEMA, just opened on the lower level (bathrooms and metro/RER). It's a good place to get rid of a few spare euros on snacks, stationary, beauty products, and travel gadgets.


Unique Cinema Experiences in Paris

Back in the US you might have Netflix and a flat-screen HDTV bigger than ones in most cinemas, but in Paris going out to the movies is still a lot of fun. Because of the variety of theatres – indie, art house, international, mainstream – there are more movies showing on any given day than in any other city in the world.

Specialist Cinemas

Some cinemas are just for classic films (Le Desperado, Christine 21, Le Grand Action) showing Hitchcock thrillers, Gene Kelly or Audrey Hepburn musicals, early James Bond or Fellini films. Others have gorgeous, historic theatres (La Pagode, Max Linder Panorama, Le Louxor Palais (above) and Le Grand Rex (below)), and others are known for their special collections (Le Fondation Seydoux-Pathé shows silent films from their massive archived collection, and the soon-to-open Cinéma Les Fauvettes across the street will feature digitally re-mastered and restored films).

Dr. Frank-N-Furter Turns 40

In the heart of the Latin Quarter, the Studio Galande just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has been screened at the tiny art house theatre every week non-stop since 1980. Despite its age, the “show” (with live performers, costumed movie-goers and plenty of toast and rice being thrown around) is usually sold out for both the Friday and Saturday 10pm screenings. Go a few days in advance to purchase your tickets in person (€10), then find your props so you can join in the fun. And if you’re not going to get up and dance the Time Warp with everyone else, don’t bother going.

A Chic and Exclusive Film Experience

On the complete other end of the spectrum (in terms of neighborhood, price, and atmosphere) you have the Royal Monceau Film Club at the Raffles palace hotel of the same name just off the Champs-Elysées. Twice-monthly, guests pay €40 for a glass of Champagne, gourmet popcorn, and one of the comfy leather seats in a screening room designed by Philippe Starck. Films are usually Hollywood cult classics like “Back to the Future” and current blockbusters like “Mission Impossible”. For more information and reservations visit the website

Dinner and a Movie

A fun little place near République, Les Bobines, offers home cooked meals plus a cozy screening room (with sofas, armchairs and even a few beanbags) where they show popular or classic films (in their original version with French subtitles) and animated films for Saturday brunch. The dinner menus are €15-€33, including entrance to the film at 10pm (you can only attend the film if you dined in the restaurant). The Saturday brunch film is at 2:30pm. You can also eat lunch at Les Bobines, but there are no lunch films during the week. 


Les Néréides: Whimsical Jewelry Hand-Made in Paris

It’s not easy finding truly unique jewelry in Paris, everything starts to look the same after you visit a few shops. But Les Néréides always catches the eye of those passing by with its collections of dainty and whimsical hand-made jewelry. The story behind this family-run business is as romantic as the jewelry itself. 

Once upon a time, a woman from Belgium and a man from Italy meet as students at the Fine Arts Academy in Paris, fall madly in love, get married and move the French Riviera where they open their first hand-made jewelry boutique in 1980. Today, Pascale and Enzo run Les Néréides with their four children, with boutiques all over France and Europe (and even one in Chicago).

Their style is playful, yet elegant: flowers, animals, insects, and ballerinas made with colored stones, enamel, gold. And as cheesy as the idea may be, the Eiffel Tower, kissing lovers and Moulin Rouge pieces in the “Paris Mon Amour” line are adorable. This video show the hand-made process (for the Néréides Loves Animals collection, 15% of each sale goes to animal rescue shelters). 

There are boutiques in the St-Germain and Marais districts, but I recommend going right to their concept store near the Centre Pompidou (5 rue du Bourg l’Abbé, 3rd, M° Rambuteau) for the full collection in a stunning setting (I wandered in just to see the boutique itself before I noticed the jewelry itself). The prices are in the €25-€175 range, with a “little sister” line called N2 aimed at girls. 


Painlessly Navigating the Journées du Patrimoine September 19-20 

Established over 30 years ago by the French Ministry of Culture, the annual Journées du Patrimoine, or Heritage Days, opens up thousands of historic monuments to the public for the weekend, including museums, churches, gardens, embassies, theatres, schools, libraries, the Senate and National Assembly buildings, and even industrial engineering heritage like the Paris metro control center and the Paris sewers. Most of these places are either normally closed to the public, have heavily restricted access, or (like museums) require an entrance fee, so the Heritage Days are a chance for everyone to enjoy special access to the country's amazing architectural and cultural heritage. There are usually concerts, special tours, demonstrations, or other activities scheduled alongside the visits. The theme for 2015 is "21st Century Heritage", highlighting contemporary and innovative architecture (like the newly opened Fondation Louis Vuitton). 

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