About Secrets of Paris

Created in 1999, the Secrets of Paris is the oldest independent and locally-owned website about Paris in English, for both visitors and residents. Discover what you've been missing:

* Free Resource Guide
* 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 19
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 Ice Hockey, though it will be less brutal than the NHL!

January 11 - February 21
The annual winter sales, aka Les Soldes. Honestly, the rules about when and how sales can take place in France since the economic crise have essentially made the sales irrelevant. There are sales all of the time now (often called "promotion" or "7 Jours BHV" or something like that). 

Click here to see the full calendar of events...

Entries in train (13)

Thursday
Feb022017

Secret Tip: The Train to Chantilly

Did you know you could hop on a train in Paris and in less than a half hour be in the historic town of Chantilly? Before you plan your own escape to the countryside, find out the secret to getting the right ticket!

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec112016

Eurostar's Secret Discount Train Tickets

Well it's not exactly a secret, but you'll never see an advertisement for Eurostar Snap, the special site managed by Eurostar that sells heavily-discounted, last-minute train tickets between London and Paris (and Lille and Brussels). There are a few constraints:

 

  • you have to purchase tickets between 7 and 21 days before you travel
  • you can only choose your dates and "morning" or "afternoon", and you'll be informed two days before travel the exact time. 
  • these tickets can't be refunded, modified or transferred to another person

 

On the plus side the tickets are usually just £25/€30 one-way between Paris and London. Some holiday travel tickets are as high as £85, but that's still lower than the prices listed on the official Eurostar site. So now there's no excuse for a quick skip across the pond for Afternoon Tea!

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.

Click to read more ...

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.