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

June 4
The 16th annual Carnaval Tropical parade with 4000 dancers celebrating French West Indies cultures as well as other dancers from Brazil, China, Colombia and other nations around the world. They start at Hôtel de Ville at 2pm, up to Place de la République until 6pm. Come see the dancers and try out the exotic foods on sale! 

June 19
Get out your fancy hats and picnic baskets for the annual Prix de Diane races at Chantilly Hippodrome (just 45 minutes north of Paris from Gare du Nord). Read more about the event from previous years here. 

June 24-26
Solidays is one of the best summer music festivals in France. This event unites more than 150 musicians (including Cypress Hill and Keziah Jones) and 160,000 attendees every year in the fight against AIDS, and this summer is expected to be bigger and better than ever. Day passes starting at €39.  

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 train (11)

Monday
Jun132016

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.

I went on one of the first dry nights of May and there was a pretty large crowd, but plenty of space to find a seat. Dining options include Italian (and pizzas), Korean Bibimbap, Argintinean BBQ, gluten-free tea room, Belgian waffels, burgers, and hot dogs. 

When you enter you'll see the outdoor lounge space and gardens overlooking the trains. 

These areas outside fill up quickly, getthere before 7pm for a good spot. 

The Italian eatery in one of the indoor halls.

Train decor throughout the Grand Train space.

I like the little lites strung up in the courtyards, although it's barely dark when Grand Train closes at 11pm in July!

You can bring your food into this dining car. Screens next to it have landscape whizzing by like you're moving. 

One of the indoor dining areas.

There are also a few model trains set up between the restaurants.

The epicerie and food shop.

Yet another courtyard...it feels like you're going in circles, but there are several of these. 

An exhibit of train worker uniforms over the years.

One of the dozen or so vintage trains (no touching allowed).

The kids' playpen.

Helmut Newcake Gluten-Free goodies.

 

The food garden (there are also honey bee hives).

Open until October 16th, check the Facebook page for the weekly schedule of special events. 

Grand Train 
26 ter rue Ordener, 18th
Metro Marcadet-Poissoniers. 
Open Wednesday-Sunday from 11am-11pm.
Free entry, consignment fee for the cups at the bars. 
Ends October 16th, 2016. 

Chickens!

Saturday
Dec192015

Steam Locomotive at the Living Train Museum

Choo choo!

Last weekend I went on the monthly Ile-de-France hike led by Abbey Bookshop owner Brian Spence. To get a peek at the annual Medieval Christmas Market, our destination for the "Rando de Noël" was the historic town of Provins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Champagne countryside.  

As usual, about 20 of us met at the Gare de l'Est at 10am to take the train out of Paris to Longueville, where we'd begin our relatively short, three-hour hike (and we take the train back, because there are only so many hours of daylight in winter). But before we began our trek, we got to make a short detour to visit the Musée Vivant du Chemin de Fer, or Living Train Museum. 

This museum is located in a listed 1910 SNCF rail depot at Longueville just a few minutes' walk from the regular SNCF train station. The depot has a completely wooden, circular frame, housing a impressive collection of old trains, including a Train Bleu car, Pullman cars, and a dozen steam locomotives dating back to the early 20th century. 

One of the first trains from the 19th century, showing the 1st, 2nd and (short-lived) 3rd class compartments. 

More than a museum, it's also a restoration workshop, and the trains regularly take small passenger trips. On the day we visited they were preparing one steam locomotive for the Provins Christmas Market, the Train du Père Noël (which gets completely booked about two months in advance). 

The next two events are the Valentine's Dinner in the Train Bleu car on February 13th, and the Easter Egg Train on March 26 (steam locomotive trip from Longueville to Provins). Keep an eye on their website or FB page for registration information (it's not up yet). 

There is very little information in English on their website, but if you visit the museum, the staff are very friendly and will explain as much as they can to you about the trains in English. You can get there by car, but it's very easy by train from Paris (the Transilien train from the Gare de L'Est station), then a five-minute walk from the Longueville station. 

Musée Vivant du Chemin de Fer - Dépôt des Machines
3 Rue Louis Platriez 
77650 LONGUEVILLE
Tel: 01 64 08 60 62  
E-mail: contact@ajecta.org  
Website: www.ajecta.org 
Low Season Hours: October 16 to April 30 on Sundays from 1-5pm.
High Season Hours: May 1 to October 15 Saturdays and Sunday 10:30am-6pm.
Entry fee: €4

If you'd like information about the next Abbey Bookshop hike, stop into the store (29 rue de la Parcheminerie, 5th, M° Cluny-Sorbonne or St-Michel) and Brian will be happy to give you all of the information.

Our intrepid hike leader Brian, map and walking stick in hand. 

 

Friday
Dec112015

Sound Jingle of the French SNCF Trains

If you've spent any time traveling around France by train, you'll recognize this little jingle:

The SNCF even created its own little techno song using the jingle:

And the British singer David Gilmore incorporated the jungle into his song Rattle that Lock from the 2015 album of the same name (the video is pretty cool, too):

Anyone know of creative ways the SNCF jingle has been incorporated into songs? How about a ringtone

Tuesday
Sep082015

New Budget Coach Travel to French Cities 

It’s getting cheaper and more comfortable to travel by bus around France and Europe.

Isilines is a new coach service by Eurolines offering very cheap fares on bus routes that aren’t already covered by Eurolines, and in many cases allowing you to travel between small French towns without having to be routed through big cities like Paris, Lyon, or Marseille which is usually the case when taking the train).

The rates for one-way tickets fluctuate depending on the dates, but with their chart it’s easy to see when the cheapest fares are available. Just a quick glance I found the following fares: Paris to Lille €5, Paris to Bordeaux €14, Paris to Aix-en-Provence €18.

Superior Comfort and Amenities

All busses have free WiFi, electric and USB outlets, personal fold-down table, a/c and light control (like in an airplane), no charge for bags, and huge comfy seats that recline. All stations are in city centers, so no more airport shuttles, and buses actually go slow enough to enjoy the views of the French countryside (ever try taking a photo from the window of a TGV zipping through sunflower fields at 275km/h?) If you've got the time, it can be a great way to travel, see the countryside, and avoid the busy airports and train stations.

European Travel

Isilines only covers France (they’ll be adding more stations through 2016). You can also check out the European-wide routes offered by Eurolines and the the SNCF-operated OuiBus (formerly known as iDBus) wich has a 15 or 30-day pass covering 53 European cities.

Saturday
May232015

Daytripping to Country Chateaux and Hiking Trails

If you’re in the mood for bucolic country hikes, medieval fortress ruins, and secluded château visits less than an hour from Paris, head to the Natural Regional Park de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse.

Vallée de la Chevreuse, Château Breteuil, Château de la Madeleine

Just under an hour southwest of Paris by train, this protected regional park is rarely visited by foreign tourists (which is probably how the French like it), but has many excellent sites easily accessible by RER and the seasonal Baladobus, a shuttle that circulates every Sunday in April through October. Starting from the RER B station Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, the Baladobus (€4 for a daypass) stops at several historic hiking trails leading to many unforgettable sites such as the 11th-century ruins of the Château de la Madeleine (with panoramic views over the valley and a visitors’ center), France’s oldest riverside mills, a house made of iron, charming villages hidden in wooded valleys, vestiges of the 13th-century Port Royal Abbey (now a museum), and the magnificent Château de Breteuil with its formal French gardens.

Note that you can also bring your bike and cycle many of these trails. Pack water and snacks (not much is open in the smaller villages on Sunday), and have an actual map in case your GPS reception disappears in the forest. All of the information is online in English with full descriptions of each trail, hours and prices for each site (you can also download the PDF leaflet).

Friday
May022014

Newsletter #140: April 30, 2014

In this issue:

* Happy French Labor Day!
* Paris Cemetery Spooks
* The Great War in Paris
* Vintage Films of Paris
* Orient Express Train Exhibition
* Hidden Gardens in Montmartre
* Paris Books & Literary Events
* Radio France Concerts
* Host Your Party at City Hall
* A Guide for Foreign Residents
* Advance Copies of Naughty Paris
* Secrets of Paris News & Calendar 

Click to read more ...