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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

April 24-May 22
April 26th is the Journée Nationale de la Déportation (National Day in Memory of the Deportation) in memory of the victims and the heros of the Nazi deportations during WWII. There are several events in Paris commemorating the solemn event, including a ceremony at the Mémorial National des Martyrs de la Déportation at the Square de l’Île-de-France (the eastern tip of the Ile de la Cité, behind Notre Dame) at 9:45am; a ceremony at the Mémorial de la Shoah (17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 4th) at 3pm; and a ceremony at the Memorial Flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe at 6:30pm. 

April 25
Internationally renowned peace activist Ravi Shankar will be in Paris tonight for a presentation, "Discourse, Music & Meditation" from 7-9pm at the Maison de la Mutualité (24 rue Saint Victor, 5th), tickets €15-€50.

April 30
Paris is the host city for the 2015 International Jazz Day, with a live broadcast performance at the grand UNESCO headquarters (7th) with internationally renowned jazz artists including Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves. Other events will take place around Paris including at the Club Rayé. Check out the website for the program. And read this Guardian article for a rundown of the best jazz clubs in Paris.

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

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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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