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:

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Calendar of Paris Events

November 5-8
The boutique charity organization Emmaüs (105 Boulevard Davout, 20th) is having a "Kilo Sale" where mens, womens and childrens used clothing are sold for €10/kilo (that's a lot of clothing). Daily 11am-7:45pm. 

November 8-16
The 39th annual Salon Marjolaine, the largest organic fair in Paris, takes place this week at the Parc Floral (Bois de Vincennes) with 550 stands selling everything organic you could imagine. There are also plenty of food stands for lunch onsite, a vestiaire, and a little shuttle from the metro Château de Vincennes to the entrance of the Parc Floral. Open 10:30am-7pm. Entry €9, but you can get a €3 discount voucher on the website to print out in advance. You can also see my article and video from my visit in 2010. 

November 8-11
The Château Vaux le Vicomte is hosting its annual Palais au Chocolat. The palace will be decorated with chocolate artworks created by some of the biggest names in chocolate. Tickets are €16.50 (€13.50 for kids 6-18), which includes access to the château and gardens and exhibits throughout the estate; you can reserve them in advance online. Open 10am-6pm.

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees
to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

« Maoz Vegetarian Falafel | Main | Galopins »
Tuesday
May052009

Chez Omar

Chez Omar
47 rue de Bretagne, 3rd
M° Arts et Metier
Tel 01 42 72 36 26

Open Monday to Saturday noon – 2:30pm and Monday to Sunday 7pm – 11:30pm

Review and photos by Aileen O'Riordan

If you have a hankering for couscous, I couldn't recommend Chez Omar more. A veritable institution, it’s regarded as one of the best Moroccan restaurants in Paris. Located north of the bustling Marais, this is the kind of place you might normally walk right by. The facade is drab, but don't be fooled. When you open the door it's like you've walked onto the set of an old movie, a Paris of long ago.

The staff welcome you warmly, usher you to one of the white linen draped tables and then basically tell you what you'll have. I tried to order a bottle of red but was informed the Moroccan wine was better with couscous. When I insisted, I was told that the Moroccan wine would be served. The same went for my meal. Relent. Let them tell you what to have, they know their stuff. The wine really did compliment the couscous, which couldn't be faulted, and if you're hungry the servings are enormous, a veritable mountain of crumbly couscous will be served up. Also, the staff's recommendations were some of the cheapest items on the menu, including the wine. Don't forget to leave room for dessert. A silver platter will arrive and you can take your pick. When our coffees arrived, I remarked that there was no chocolatey delight, and the waiter treated me to a bowl full of dark chocolate buttons to fill the tiny space remaining in my already overstuffed belly.

Get here early as they don't take reservations or you'll end up queuing at the bar. Apparently it’s a right of passage to wait, join the throngs along the lovely zinc bar and indulge in the Parisian pastime of people watching. One of the first to arrive, we watched as the place packed with a line of hungry locals by the time we finished our meal. Maybe it’s an urban legend but Sophie Coppola, while filming Marie Antoinette, was supposedly a fan and spent her free time chin wagging with Omar and indulging in the spicy merguez.

Do bring cash as they don't take cards. If you're stuck there's a bank across the road.

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