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 train (10)

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 ...

Sunday
Jan052014

Newsletter #133: January 2, 2014

IN THIS ISSUE:
* Live Your Legend Meetup
* Elope in Paris
* Paris Dining Challenges
* Paris Dining Recommendations
* Sports Bars in Paris
* Shoes, Clothing for Dancers
* Shopping Mayhem January 8th
* Survival Packs for the Homeless
* Eco-Friendly Kitchen Store
* Running in Paris…& Beyond!
* Taxis to/from Train Stations
* Consumer Prices Up for 2014
* Secrets of Paris Internships

Click to read more ...