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
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* Calendar of interesting Paris events 
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* Secrets of Paris Tours & Travel Planning

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Calendar of Paris Events

May 13-16
The 27th annual Artists' Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (11th, 19th & 20th arrondissements). It's a great chance to see some neighborhoods tourists don't normally see, to meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! Pick up a map and program at the Espace Jordain (3 rue Jean-Baptiste Dumay, 20th, M° Jourdain). Free entry. Open 2-8pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. 

May 21
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 12th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until midnight...for free! Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum.

May 21-22
Attention equestrian fans: it's time for the one of the legendary horse racing events in Paris, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at the Hippodrome d'Auteuil (16th). There will be food trucks, snack stands and you can also dine in the panoramic restaurant overlooking the racetrack. Tickets are €8. 

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

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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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