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About the Secrets of Paris

Established in 1999, the Secrets of Paris is one of the oldest independent and locally-owned websites about Paris in English. Straight-forward and fluff-free, it has become a trusted reference for alternative news, original feature stories, useful sightseeing advice, reviews and recommendations, and insider information about Paris for both visitors and residents.

Our History: The Creation of the Secrets of Paris

The Secrets of Paris website and newsletter were created by Heather Stimmler, an American-born journalist living in France since 1995. Now let’s switch out of that awkward “third person voice” since now you know who is writing this!

I didn’t study journalism and environmental policy to become a travel writer, and the Paris tourism industry isn’t the obvious place to make a living if you want to write about environmental and social justice. But I’ve always tried to carry the same values from my journalism training into everything I do: first-hand research, fact-checking sources, transparency, and serving the community, not the advertisers. I’m here to inform Secrets of Paris readers, not entertain you with the same marketing fluff seen on every other Paris website.

I supported this site for over 15 years by working in the tourism industry as a tour guide, consultant, and travel publisher. I now work full time as a non-profit media director for an international marine conservation organization, so Secrets of Paris has continued as a labor of love I manage in my free time, with contributions from fellow travel writers. That means I don’t write for sponsors, I don’t clutter up the text with annoying ads, and I can be 100% honest in my opinions about the Paris tourism industry without worrying about alienating potential clients.

As a dual citizen of the US and France I’m conscious of my role as a cross-cultural ambassador, so you’ll find in-depth articles that help foster greater understanding of Paris, Parisians, and French culture rather than click bait that uses tired stereotypes, misleading headlines or outright fake news to stir up outrage. Paris is an exceptional city in many ways, but it’s a city like any other with its good and bad points. Fair and honest journalism helps people make their own informed decisions without being manipulated by the haters nor the “influencers”.

Our Mission: Secrets of Paris in the Next 20 Years

Ad-free travel journalism that promotes sustainable tourism and serves the greater community of English-speaking visitors and residents in Paris.

In 1999 the Secrets of Paris was one of only three websites about Paris in English, where I shared everything I loved about the City of Light with visitors and English-speaking residents. Twenty years later there are countless blogs and websites about Paris, yet it’s harder than ever to find accurate, reliable, and truly useful insider information amidst the fluff, cliché-ridden click-bait and “branded content”.

Meanwhile, globalization and record-breaking tourism in Paris threaten to break the city’s unique character and spirit. To fight against these trends, the Secrets of Paris is embarking on its third decade with a renewed mission to promote local businesses and artisans, encourage authentic slow travel experiences, and expose the shady scammers trying to rip-off tourists. That means topics covered here could include charity events, eco-friendly products, volunteer opportunities, free or affordable cultural activities, plant-based dining options, street art, and locally owned businesses that give back to the community.

Fighting the Tourism Industrial Complex means we will continue to speak out against TripAdvisor’s shady practices, tourist traps that rip off unsuspecting travelers, and booking “platforms” that are happy to take a percentage of every sale but refuse all responsibility if tourists have a horrible experience. It means articles like “How to Skip the Line at the Eiffel Tower” also tell you how to avoid getting ripped off while doing it.

Our Values: Sustainable Tourism & Responsible Journalism

The biggest difference between Secrets of Paris and your average Paris blog is that our values guide our editorial decisions, from the topics we focus on to the kinds of businesses and services we promote:

  • Small, locally owned businesses and artisans that give back to the community
  • Services and products that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible
  • Independent hotels and rental accommodations that benefit – not displace – locals
  • Reasonably priced restaurants, especially ones that favor local, seasonal, organic ingredients, and plant-based options
  • Activities that favors cross-cultural understanding, authentic connections with the locals, and respect for the city’s socio-economic diversity, rather than constant consumption and contrived tourist “experiences”
  • Journalistic transparency, honesty, and editorial responsibility for the content we publish

Our Team: Secrets of Paris Contributors

Secrets of Paris has had many talented contributors over the years offering different perspectives on living, working, and studying in Paris, including longtime contributing editors Bryan Pirolli and Scott Dominic Carpenter, and current guest correspondents Anne Daignault and Yvonne Hazelton. If you live in Paris and would like to become a Secrets of Paris correspondent, please read our FAQs before contacting us.

All text and images copyright Secrets of Paris unless where noted (such as press images), and may not be copied or redistributed without written permission. “Secrets of Paris” is a registered trademark with the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI) # 386 7045 (as Fleur de Lire EURL).