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

May 15-17
One of the biggest flower shows in France, Journées des Plantes de Courson, takes place this weekend at the Chateau de Chantilly, just 45 minutes north of Paris from the Gare du Nord. Entry €20 (or €17 if you get your tickets online before May 14).

May 16
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 11th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open all night...for free! 

June 21
Celebrate Fête de la Musique in 17th-century aristocratic style at Château Vaux-le-Vicomte for their annual costumes dance event, La Journée Grand Siècle, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the original owner, Nicolas Fouquet. There will be an elegant picnic in the chateau gardens, live music and dancing, as well as carriage rides and sword-fighting shows. If you don't have a costume gown you can rent one on-site from €17. 

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 (250)

Saturday
May022015

Hidden Shops in Parisian Courtyards

Visitors to Paris love taking photos of the large carriage doors that guard the entrance to the city’s historic apartment buildings, but they rarely venture beyond. But not all of them are locked. If you see a plaque at the entrance, there are likely offices and a few shops in the courtyards of these buildings, open to the public during opening hours. Two of my favorite French boutiques are hidden inside these courtyards.

On the Left Bank, I’ve become a total addict of La Compagnie du Kraft (LCK), which produce refillable Kraft paper notebooks with cardboard or leather covers right outside Paris (working by hand, they are proudly “The least productive producer of notebooks in the western world”). They are at the back of the courtyard Cour de Saxe at 12 Rue Jacob, 6th. Drop on by, they all speak English and include embossing of initials on your leather-bound notebooks.

On the Right Bank, Caroline De Marchi makes luxury leather goods, specifically purses, designed in Paris and handmade in Italy. Her boutique, at 217 rue Saint‐Honoré, 1st, is just a few steps from Colette, but once you step through the doors of the building and walk to the end of the second courtyard, you’ll feel miles from the crowds. My favorite bag this season is the adorable Cubo Zèbre & Jaune Citron, a bit out of my budget. No worries if the shop seems out of yours, the friendly staff at the boutique welcome anyone who is curious about the brand…word of mouth is always the best press!  

Friday
Mar132015

Renewing Your American Passport in Paris

Every ten years I have to renew my US passport. When you live in Paris, you do it through the US Embassy by mailing in your old one with the fee and photo and special forms you need to fill out and print. There are very specific directions on how to do this, so it's not a mystery, but it is time consuming and requires a bit of running around and QUITE a bit of cash. 

Passport Photo (only a few places in Paris will do the "approved" format) €9.95 + 60 minutes to get there, get photo and return home.

Mandat Cash (money order) €105 + fee €7 + 20 minutes at the Post Office banking counter getting the Mandat (you can't do it at the mailing counter).

2 Chronopost envelopes (one to mail my passport to the Embassy, one self addressed for them to send my new one) €50 + 20 minutes to get the envelopes and pay at the Post Office (including arguing with the clerk who wouldn't let me tear off and keep the top copy, as directed by the embassy).

Plus 20 minutes to find, read, fill out the online forms and print them at home. 

Total cost: €171.95

Total time: 2 hours (plus "4-6 weeks" to receive my new passport)

Annoyance level: High

The US Embassy is only 20 minutes from my flat, but they won't let you come to the Embassy in person to renew and pick up your passport, which would save on the Chronopost envelopes and cash mandat fees and the trips to La Poste (I'd rather wait in line at the awesome US Embassy than my boring neighborhood post office). The only time you can go to the Embassy is to get a new passport, if your name has legally changed, or to replace a stolen or damaged passport, and even then, if you live here (ie it's not urgent) you need an appointment. And taking a peek, I see the earliest one available is April 17th. 

So now I'm waiting to see if my new passport will arrive before my next trip to the US in June! 

As an aside, I'm also getting my first French passport. I currently have a French National ID card (issued free to all French citizens as proof of ID, and can be used traveling in Europe). My appointment for that is April 2nd, at the police station a block from my flat, and the cost is €86, which I can pay with Timbres Fiscaux (special stamps you can buy quickly with cash at any tabac or even online). Official French passport photos can be purchased in any photomat in the Paris metro (usually €5 for 4). So why not just get a French passport and use that instead of my US one? Because it's illegal for me to enter the United States with a foreign passport (one of the rules of double nationality). Still, I think in a pinch it's nice to have both on hand. Plus I won't have to wait (or go in a roundabout way) to go to Cuba. :-) 

Friday
Jan092015

Je Suis Charlie

Updated on Friday, January 9, 2015 by Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

Updated on Saturday, January 10, 2015 by Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

Updated on Sunday, January 11, 2015 by Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

What it's like for an American living in Paris during terrorist attacks. 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec132014

Sexy Shows & Fabulous Giveaways at the Paris Burlesque Festival

This week is the 6th annual Paris Burlesque Festival, celebrating the theme "Burlesque & Politics: Pin-Ups Take Power!" at the new Centre Barbara (cultural center near metro Barbès, 18th). The opening night is the election of "Miss PBF 2014" followed by three nights of La Grande Revue performances (twice nightly). Get your tickets online in advance (seated "assis" spots go fast!). On the final evening there is an all-night dance party with live bands and burlesque performances at La Java (dance club near République).

Naughty Paris Will be There! 

The Naughty Guides will have a stand in the festival lounge to welcome guests between shows, with special pre-launch prices on the new edition of Naughty Paris and fun giveaway drawings each night for fabulously naughty prizes. On the final night Saturday the 20th I'll be there signing books before heading over to La Java to dance the night away at La Nuit Fatale...I hope you can join us for the fun!

For more information visit the Naughty Paris website.

 

Sunday
Dec072014

Newsletter #148: December 6, 2014

In this Issue:

* Naughty Paris Holiday Events
* Heather’s US Tour
* Paris for Christmas and New Year’s Eve
* Visit the Biggest Food Market 
* Local Craft Beer Breweries
* Sainte Chapelle & Conciergerie Tickets 
* Calendar of Strikes & Marches
* Eat, Drink and Sleep near Gare du Nord 
* Get Your Guilt-Free Christmas Trees
* For your Home Improvement Projects 
* Look Mom, I’m in the NY Times

 

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Wednesday
Oct012014

Newsletter #146: September 10, 2014

In this Issue:
 
* Tours of My Neighborhood
* Call it Street Art, SVP
* Things Grow Here
* Get Off Your Butt
* What Happened in Paris
* What Heather Ate
* Collaborative Economy Gets Trendy
* Secrets of Paris News & Calendar 

Click to read more ...