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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

Book NOW for September 5-6
The American Church of Paris is hosting A Prarie Home Companion radion show with Garrison Keillor for two dates, September 5th at 8pm and September 6th at 4pm. Tickets are €31, book as soon as possible, space is limited.

Through August 24
The Paris Fun Fair (Fête Foraine) is open in the Tuileries (Louvre Gardens), daily 11am-11:45pm (until 12:45am on Friday and Saturday). Free entrance, but you’ll need to buy tickets for each ride on the usual carnival attractions, or have cash for cotton candy and the games where you can win prizes. The Ferris Wheel has excellent views over Paris! 

Through August 24
The annual Open-Air Cinema Festival takes place Wed-Sun nights at the Parc de la Villette's Triangle Prairie (M° Porte de Pantin), starting at sunset (around 10pm), free entry. This year's theme is Adolescence, including films such as Moonrise Kingdom, Scream 4, and American Graffiti.

Through August 31
Between the Lines and the Trenches, a very intimate collection of personal letters, notebooks and photos from the trenches, many never published before. At the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts (222 Boulevard Saint-Germain), through August 31st, entry €7.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CALENDAR

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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