Secrets of Paris 
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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 
* Free Paris Resource Guide
* Calendar of interesting Paris events
* Private Secrets of Paris Tours
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Videos

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

Calendar of Paris Events

October 4
One of the greatest contemporary British comedians, Eddie Izzard, is bringing his show Force Majeure back to Paris, this time....en français! Mais oui! He'll be performing at the Casino de Paris one night before moving onto a week-long tour in other French cities. Even if your French sucks, you'll likely be able to follow along Eddie's own version of Franglais as he explains World History, God, Hitler, and other light topics. Tickets from FNAC starting at €25.

October 8-11
The annual Puces du Design is a free market of vintage furniture and home decor from the 1950s to today, at the Place des Vins behind Bercy Village, 12th. Over 100 stands, free entry. 

October 8-18
Celebrate Oktoberfest in Paris all week long in a huge Bavarian-themed tent at the Porte de la Villette (19th), tickets €34-€44, including €15 of drink tickets.  There will be music, Bavarian Cancan dancers, and plenty to eat and drink. Dust off the lederhosen and be ready for fun! 

Through October 18
The 32nd annual funfair carnival, the Fête à Neu Neu, opens on August 30th in the Bois de Boulogne (Porte de la Muette, 16th, M° Rue de la Pompe). Open 4pm-midnight Mon, Tues, & Thurs; 2pm-midnight Wed & Fri; and noon to midnight Sat-Sun. Free entry, ATM, Vélib station, food tents and rides (tickets purchased onsite).  

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

Secrets of Paris Tours

NOTE: Private walking tours with Heather are completely booked through the end of October. For Louvre, Orsay, Catacombs, Versailles and other museum tour requests for 2015 please email with "Museum Tour" in the subject line.

Washing fresh fruit from the market at a park fountain for a picnic beside the Seine.

It’s not what you see, but how you see it

Tourists have been coming to Paris for hundreds of years to enjoy the city’s historic monuments, gourmet cuisine, rich culture treasures, and luxury boutiques. They take photos, visit museums, cruise the Seine, and walk the winding streets. But looking is not experiencing, and seeing is not understanding. Heather’s Secrets of Paris tours were created to help visitors break away from the shallow, mass-market tours that offer no context and little insight into what really makes Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

Whether it’s your first trip to Paris or your fifteenth, Heather and her fellow expert guides will show you a side of the city you’ve never seen before in their friendly and relaxed tours. They’ll not only guide you through some of the most charming, hidden corners of the city, but will also shed new light on the most famous -- yet often misunderstood – monuments of Paris.

The city’s rich history is always fascinating, but many guests also appreciate learning about modern French culture, the latest nightspots, what it’s like to study or live in France, or even how to use those mystifying hand-held showers often found in Parisian hotels! The Secrets of Paris guides are cross-cultural ambassadors, giving you a better understanding of the real Paris, not just the postcard-perfect city seen on glossy tourism office brochures, nor the politically-skewed impression of France often portrayed in the press. Secrets of Paris Tours are educational, entertaining, eye-opening, and – most importantly – fun!

  • Hell is other people. A private tour means that you don’t have to “share” your guide with anyone else. Private tours are interactive, more like a discussion than a lecture. You get your guide’s full attention. You get to ask as many dumb questions as you want. Your guide will take as many photos of you posing in front of the Eiffel Tower as you want. And you don’t have to find the “meeting place” because your guide will meet you right at your hotel or rental apartment.
  • You’re in Charge. All Secrets of Paris custom tours are designed to fit each client, not our own rigid agenda. That means the itinerary for the day was designed around your interests, budget and energy level. Custom tours are adaptive, flexible and easy-going. The pace is as fast or slow as you want, and at any moment you can decide to stop at a café, pop into a boutique, drop by the pharmacy for tissues, or have your guide take you on a detour to feed a sudden French pastry craving.
  • Caveat Emptor! Once you’ve experienced the level of service, freedom and personal attention that come with private custom tours, you’ll never be able to join the herd again.

At the Marché aux Puces (flea market) in St-Ouen.

What Makes Secrets of Paris Different

  • You get more than just a tour guide.  Heather and her colleagues also help you plan the rest of your stay in Paris with dining and sightseeing suggestions. They’ll help you figure out the best way to manage your time wisely, what places need reservations and where you can just show up. They can answer questions about everything from WiFi access and what to pack, to currency exchange and the best way to get from the airport into Paris.
  • You get a reality check.  Heather is not your “Yes Man”. She’ll give you her honest assessment of your “must see” list, helping you whittle down and prioritize the many recommendations you’ve surely pieced together from websites, guidebooks, TV shows and helpful friends and family. The Secrets of Paris guides make sure you avoid the overhyped restaurants, tourist traps, and time wasters. Your vacation should feel like one. We happily encourages all of our clients to spend their mornings people-watching from their local sidewalk café instead of trying to cram four museums into one day.
  • No mystery guides here. So many tour companies don’t tell you who your guide will be, or you have no way of verifying if they know what they’re talking about. We have a very small group of guides at Secrets of Paris. They’re bilingual, permanent residents of Paris with professional experience in the tourism industry. They’re all experts on Paris, but – more importantly – they’re also a lot of fun! MEET OUR GUIDES HERE.

  1. In the initial emails we ask a few questions to find out a bit about you, what you’re looking for in a tour, and when you’re coming to Paris.
  2. Once we’ve agreed on a tour date and the online deposit is made (via PayPal), we send you a detailed questionnaire to fill out to help give us a better understanding of your interests.
  3. We then go back and forth to fine-tune an itinerary for the tour. Your guide will answer any questions you might have about choosing a hotel, restaurants for special occasions, and any other issues that need advance planning like excursions outside Paris.
  4. Before you arrive in Paris we reconfirm the exact meeting time and place, contact info while you’re on the road, and any last-minute preparations.
  5. The day of the tour your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby or rental apartment for the start of the tour. Unless you have requested a car & driver, you’ll be getting around on foot and metro/bus (we provide metro passes).
  6. Rest stops and a lunch break are scheduled into the full day tours, but not included in the price. You will have several options to fit your budget, tastes and whether or not you want to sit or eat on the go (ie: crepes, falafel, baguette sandwiches).
  7. At the end of the full day tour your guide provides you with a map of where you walked, and any sightseeing, shopping or dining recommendations for you to use during the rest of your stay. The tour can finish where you choose, either back at your hotel or apartment, at a shopping area, at a café, etc.

Half-Day Secrets of Paris Walking Tours: Our specialty! Choose from one of our four-hour private tours of our favorite Parisian neighborhoods, markets, and historical themed itineraries. 

Full-Day Neighborhood Tours: Any half day tours or museum tours can be combined into a full day tour (with a stop for lunch in a typical Parisian bistro or crêperie). 

One-Hour Running Tours: The Secrets of Paris guides are a sporty bunch, and run regularly in 10ks and marathons. Running at a relaxed pace is a great way to see many of the city’s amazing sights and parks. If you’re a runner, even a beginner, we can take you on a leisurely jog through Paris, covering approximately five miles (8k) depending on how many photo stops we make (or pastry shops we pass). The run starts and ends at your hotel or vacation rental.

Two-Hour Orientation Tour: First time in Paris? Let us give you a crash course orientation to the city. In two hours we will show you how to use the metro, explain local customs, dining etiquette, an introduction to the history of Paris, the best sites and neighborhoods based on your available time and interests, dining recommendations, and answers to all of the questions you might have...even the stupid ones. ;-) 

* Note: We don't do "Highlights of Paris Tours", we do "Secrets of Paris Tours". If you would like to see "a little of everything, but nothing in-depth", there are plenty of other tour operators happy to accommodate you. 

Heather’s Custom Tours: Looking for a tour custom-designed to fit your own interests? Day trips out of Paris to Chantilly or Vaux le Vicomte? After responding to a detailed questionnaire, Heather will work with you to create the dream tour of Paris that is perfectly tailored to your personal preferences.

Custom Travel Planning: With so many things to see and do in Paris, you might need a little extra help in planning your trip. We can go over your "must-see's" and help your organize and prioritize them in a logical and efficient way, and suggest some other options based on your tastes and interests that you may not have considered. This can include sights, shopping, dining, and entertainment. Please note that we don't book hotels, nor make reservations.  

Custom Self-Guided Itineraries: Are you comfortable navigating around the city yourself but would like a customized itinerary for a self-guided tour? We can do complete tour itineraries with walking and/or public transportation directions that include sights, shopping and dining, as well as time-saving tips.

Custom Travel Planning starts at €300; custom tours start at €800. 

What The Price Includes

Your tour fee includes 20% Value Added Tax, metro/bus passes during the tour, entry fees, and your guide. The price does not include: Food, drink, or souvenirs purchased during your tour.

To reserve a tour contact us with the following information:

  • Whether you would like a custom tour or one of the tours listed above.
  • Date or dates you are available for the tour.
  • Number of people in your group (and the ages of any children).

Secrets of Paris accepts tour reservations between one and eight weeks in advance (two weeks in advance for Custom Tours). Tours are not considered reserved until a deposit has been made.

The Deposit

A deposit is required to reserve any tour date and begin the planning process. You will be sent the link for the online payment via PayPal. Note: you do not need a PayPal account to use PayPal’s credit card payment system.

** Deposits are non-refundable unless your guide cancels the tour.

Payment Balance

Final payment of the tour balance can be paid in advance online before you arrive in Paris, or in cash the start of the tour (preferably in an envelope, merci). Note: It is usually not possible to make online payments using PayPal if you are outside your own country (for fraud prevention), so please be sure to pay the balance before leaving home if you do not want to pay in cash.

** 10% of all tour fees go to the French food bank, Restos du Coeur **