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
* Travel Writing Workshops
* 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

Through February 27
The 100% Packaging-Free Organic Pop-Up store by BioCoop, originally just slated to run through COP21, has been such a success that it's not extended through the end of February.  There are over 250 itiems available in bulk, including produce, fresh bread, dairy (butter, yogurt and cheese), fresh ground coffee, nut butters, and other items, 20% from local sources. If you don't bring your own reusable glass jars and other containers you can buy them at the shop. At 14 rue du Châteu d'Eau, 10th, open 10am-8pm Mon-Sat. 

December 1 - January 31
Skate on the Eiffel Tower! This year the ice skating rink on the first level of the Eiffel Tower is back, free for those who already have a ticket for the Tower, open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. Skip the line by taking the stairs, it will help you warm up, too! Skates size 25-47 (EU), sleds and scooters for kids, gloves are required. This year's theme is COP21, so expect to see an eco-friendly decor.

Through February 28
Bartabas' Zingaro shows combine equestrian theatre, dance, world music, poetry and many other disciplines. After having pounded the ground of his Théâtre Equestre Zingaro for more than a quarter of a century, Bartabas is now tackling the skies with his new show "They shoot angels, don't they? (elegies)". Get your tickets €42-50 at FNAC

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 (315)

Tuesday
Dec012015

A Parisian Yarn Shop & Tea Room 

I don’t knit, or crochet, but I have a lot of friends who do (which means I have a lot of awesome hand-made accessories). So I thought I’d pick up some “Made in France” yarn for friends back in the US.

I don’t need to go far, one of my favorite tearooms in Paris is also a haven for knitters (and all you “fiber arts” people). L’OisiveThé sits atop the Butte aux Cailles hilltop (10 rue de la Butte aux Cailles, 13th), its colorful façade easy to spot. They serve coffees, teas, hot chocolate, all kinds of pastries and cakes, and vegetarian lunch and brunch.

From OisiveThé Facebook Page

The cozy tearoom’s walls were overflowing with yarns, so they recently opened a boutique down the street called La Bienaimée (27 rue Paulin Méry, 13th) just for yarn and fiber arts accessories. They import hand-dyed and exceptional yarns from the US and the UK, and also sell French-made yarns and their own hand-dyed yarns which have amazing colors. They speak perfect English, so don't hesitate to ask if you have questions. 

From La Bien Aimée

Other Yarn and Sewing Shops

The other shop I regularly visit with tour clients who sew, knit or crochet is La Mercerie Parisienne (8 rue des France Bourgeoise, 3rd), in the back of a courtyard in the Marais. They have yarn, buttons, ribbons, patterns, fabrics, and felt. Another popular place for sewing and knitting items is La Droguerie, at Les Halles on 9 rue du Jour, 1st.  

One of my friends crocheted this Day of the Dead skull (with cute flowers) for me. :-)

Tuesday
Nov172015

Paris Will Survive

Never forget the official Paris motto since the Middle Ages , 'fluctuat nec mergitur', which means, "Though beaten by the waves, she never sinks."

Thursday
Nov052015

Best Artisanal Pastry Shops in Paris

 
"artisanal (adjective): Food made fresh daily, by hand, in small batches that requires skills from a maker/master with a combination of science and art derived from experience" (from Artisanal Defined)
 
There are many "Top Ten" style lists of Paris pastry shops, but there are also several hundred to choose from (there are over 350 selected by author and pastry chef David Lebovitz in the Paris Pastry Guide). Although mosts lists are completely subjective, this one only includes pastry shops that fit the following strict criteria for inclusion:
  • "Only in Paris": These pastry shops can only be found in Paris, with a maximum of three locations within the city. No international chains allowed, no matter how good their pastries might taste! 
  • "Artisanal Pastries": Because it's not regulated, anyone can slap the word "Artisanal" on their products. But these shops make their pastries fresh on-site each day by hand by professional pastry chefs. No industrial production in factories or freezing allowed!
  • "Quality Ingredients": High-end pastries don't just look pretty, they're made with the highest quality of carefully sourced, seasonal ingredients. These not only means they taste superior to pastries made with processed or artificial ingredients and preservatives found in average pâtisseries, it also justifies a higher price tag.   
  • "A Certain Je ne Sais Quoi": Being able to faithfully produce the classics is important, but the best pastry chefs also know how to wow us with daring flavor combinations, surprising textures and creative flair that turns each pastry into a work of art almost too beautiful to eat! (almost)
After thoroughly researching about two dozen contenders, the following baker's dozen of 13 pastry shops made the cut. All things being equal between them in terms of standards, ranking them within this list would depend on personal tastes and preferences, so I've simply ordered them alphabetically:
 
Pastry chef Arnaud Larher has two contemporary pastry shops on the west end of Montmartre and one in St-Germain. He's known for his macarons as well as his award-winning chocolates.
 
- 53 rue Caulaincourt, 18th (closed Sun afternoon and Monday)
- 57 rue Damrémont, 18th (closed Sun afternoo, Monday, and Tuesday)
- 93 rue de Seine, 6th (closed Tuesday morning and Monday)
 

Pastry chef Fabrice Le Bourdat's little boutique near the Marché Aligre has won awards for his madeleines. A musician neighbor made this tribute video to Blé Sucré (and the ungodly working hours of artisanal pastry chefs everywhere).
 
- 7 rue Antoine Vollon, 12th (closed Monday)

 
Pastry chef Carl Marletti has an elegant little boutique at the bottom of the Marché Mouffetard. He's known for his millefeuilles and prize-winning strawberry fraisier
 
- 51 rue Censier, 5th (closed Sunday afternoon and Monday)
 

Pastry chef for the Plaza Athénée palace hotel, Christophe Michalak has a pastry school and shop in the 10th and another boutique in the Marais. He's known for his contemporary pastry creations and his rock star personality (his face, rather than his pastries, graces the covers of his many books).
 
- 60 rue du Faubourg Poissonière, 10th (closed mornings, Sunday, Monday)
- 16 rue de la Verrerie, 4th (closed Monday and Tuesday)
 

Pastry chef Gérard Mulot's first boutique opened in St-Germain in 1975. There's now a separate tearoom nearby, and a second boutique in the charming Butte aux Cailles district. His macarons are my personal favorite.  
 
- 76 rue de Seine, 6th (closed Wednesday)
- 12 rue des Quatre Vents, 6th (tearoom; closed Sunday and Monday)
- 93 rue de la Glacière, 13th (closed Monday)
 

Pastry chef Claire Damon teamed up with bread maker David Granger to open two luxurious, almost theatrical boutiques on the Left Bank. She's famous for her saffron-infused Kashmir pastry. 
 
- 63 boulevard Pasteur, 15th (closed Tuesday)
- 89 rue du Bac, 7th (closed Tuesday)
 

Pastry chef Ludovic Chaussard's pretty little pastry shop across from Jean-François Piège's famous Thoumieux restaurant is known for its best-selling chou-chou (a cream puff within a cream puff), but the lemon tart is also delicious.
 
- 58 rue St-Dominique, 7th (open daily)
 
 
Pastry chef Jacques Genin is actually more famous for his caramels and chocolates, but his lemon tart and millefeuille -- currently only served in the North Marais tearoom or by special order -- have diehard fans. 
 
- 133 rue de Turenne, 3rd (tearoom, closed Monday)
- 27 rue de Varenne, 7th (closed Sunday and Monday)
 

Pastry chef duo Nathalie Robert and Didier Mathray have two boutiques (the smaller one has deli food) side-by-side on a market street just behind the Pompidou Centre. They're famous for their Rosemary pastry made with rhubarb, raspberry, and a rosemary-infused cookie base. 

- 14 rue de Rambuteau, 3rd (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
 

Pastry chef Sébastien Dégardin and his wife Sandrine took over this pretty-as-a-postcard Art Deco pastry shop with the historically listed interior in 2013, just around the corner from the Panthéon and Luxembourg Gardens. Try their Passiflore, made with coconut, passion fruit and mango.
 
- 200 rue St-Jaques, 5th (closed Monday and Tuesday) 
 

Pastry chef Sébastien Guadard has an old-fashioned Parisian boutique in South Pigalle and a tearoom overlooking the Tuileries Gardens by the Louvre. Focused on the classics, he makes one of the best Mont Blanc pastries in Paris. 
 
- 22 rue des Martyrs, 9th (closed Monday)
- 1 rue des Pyramides, 1st (tearoom, closed Monday)
 

 12. Stohrer
Pastry chef Jeffrey Cagnes maintains the ancient traditions of the oldest pastry shop in Paris. Dating back to 1730 (the listed decor is from 1830), this is the boutique where Louis XV's pastry chef Nicolas Stohrer created the famous Baba au Rhum, a rum-soaked brioche with whipped cream adored by Louis's father-in-law, King Stanislas of Poland.

- 51 rue Montorgueil, 2nd (open daily)
 

Pastry chef Nicolas Bacheyre is quietly making magic at one of the most underrated pastry shops in Paris. Located in a hidden 18th-century passage near Odéon, Un Dimanche à Paris is a chocolate concept store created by Pierre Cluizel (son of the famous chocolate-maker Michel Cluizel) and Sylvie Valette, with an open kitchen, tearoom, restaurant and cooking school. This is my favorite shop on the list, not just because the pastries are delicate in their design and daring in their flavor combinations (this month's special is a pear, coffee, and green anise tartelette), but also because each pastry's main ingredients are helpfully listed in French and English (some are even gluten free). I love to pop in for a shot of their wonderfully creamy, lightly spiced hot chocolate for just €2.20 (you can also enjoy a whole pot of it in their tearoom). 

- 4 cours du Commerce St-André, 6th (open daily)
 

That's a Wrap!

It’s possible I've missed a shop, but before you leave any indignant comments below, note that many of the usual suspects didn’t make the list, including Angelina, Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, LeNôtre, Pâtisserie des Rêves, Jean-Paul Hévin and Hugo & Victor, because they didn’t meet the four criteria clearly outlined above. The reasoning behind my choice of criteria can be found in the article I wrote for Medium: “Why Ladurée’s macarons are so hard to swallow, and other problems with globalization”
Thursday
Oct222015

A New Wine Experience at Les Caves du Louvre

You'd think 18th-century wine cellars once used by Louis XV's sommelier would be interesting enough to impress people, but I've never known Olivier Magny and Nicolas Paradis to do things half-assed. These young Frenchmen behind the popular wine bar and wine-tasting school O-Château have spent the past 18 months transforming the cellars of the Hôtel de Trudon into a beautiful, high-tech interactive wine experience for the whole family, Les Caves du Louvre.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct202015

Parisian Meals that Come To You

Food delivery is nothing new in Paris, but the choices used to be pretty slim unless you happen to adore pizza, sushi, or tandoori chicken. Now there's a new generation of services offering delivery of food we actually want, whether it's from popular restaurants, gourmet home-cooked meals, or just breakfast in bed. And of course, there's an app. Being lazy just a whole lot easier...and just in time for the chilly season when all we want to do is snuggle up inside! Here are just a few of the latest ones that look appetizing.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct152015

Free Offline Map App for Paris

If you usually rely on the maps on your smartphone or tablet to get around Paris, you've probably had moments where it simply won't load. I have 4G, yet I always seem to be in the metro on my way across town and I can't zoom in enough to find the street I need. Then there are all of you visitors who don't want to deal with roaming fees, but don't always have access to WiFi. My Plan B is the tattered little Paris par Arrondissement map booklet that's always at the bottom of my bag. 

But now you can use the completely free Maps.Me app to get detailed, offline maps of not just Paris, but every city in the world, big or small. You can zoom in quickly, no long delays and grey screens. You can see all sorts of points of interest, museums, gardens, restaurants, metro stations, etc. It's part of the OpenStreetMap project, and allows users to contribute information to improve the maps. 

Available on all mobile platforms including iPhone, Android, Blackberry: http://maps.me

I still highly recommend carrying an actual print map somewhere on you when traveling, because there's nothing worse than knowing your smartphone battery is dying and having to choose between taking more photos, finding your way to your hotel, or being able to order an Uber to get you there!