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

October 8-12
The theme for the 81st annual Fête des Vendanges, the grape harvest festival, is Montmartre Fête les Poètes. Events include a parade, grape stomping, the food & wine tasting village, cooking demos, live music, and tons of other fun stuff. Check out the entire program, the online boutique (get your commemorative bottles of wine!) and other info about the festival here.

October 12 
Stock up on fall reading material for a handful of euros and support the English-language SOS Helpline at their Autumn Book Sale today from noon-4pm at Orrick Law Offices (31 ave Pierre Ière de Serbie, 16th, M° Alma-Marceau). Paperbacks €1, hardcovers €2, all categories for adults and kids, as well as bake sale items. Those who want to donate books can drop them off during the sale.

October 16-17
Blending culture with social, Sinfonietta Paris brings you an evening of Mendelssohn and Brahms exquisitely performed by a brilliant ensemble of young professional musicians. At the Institut FInlandais (Latin Quarter, 60 rue des Ecoles, 5th) from 8-11pm. Tickets €25 (wine and hors d'oeuvres included). The address will be mailed once confirmed; the performance on the 4th December is in the 17th; on the 5th December it's in the 1st. Register on the website; places limited. 

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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