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Newsletter #10: June 2001

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #10: June 5, 2001***

* From the Home Office*
June in Paris! Many of you are coming to France this month for business or to visit Paris (I know this because my inbox is full of questions and I can’t find a parking place).
I’ll be hosting a Secrets of Paris Chat session for two hours tomorrow. Join me if you’d like to chat about Paris, ask questions, tell me your own Paris secrets, or just hang out and exchange favourite French phrases. I think you have to be a Suite101.com member to chat, but don’t let that stop you. They won’t send you junk mail or anything lame like that.
Wednesday, June 6, 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM Pacific Time (I think that’s 9-11pm Paris time):
http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/4820/ (Look for the ‘Scheduled Chat’ headline under Graffiti Guy)
Hope to see some of you there! -H

* Hot and toasty time in Paris at last! *
The best thing about good weather is eating on a café terrace or picnicking in the park. Some hints on doing this: a sidewalk terrace is always better if it isn’t facing a boulevard of speeding traffic; sitting in the sunlight is nice for the first ten minutes, so try and get a table with an umbrella you can move around; don’t leave your cell phone or wallet on the table in front of you if there’s a possibility of a passing scooter or roller-blader easily grabbing it; don’t forget it’s often more expensive to have drinks on the sidewalk terrace (if the whole front of a café wall is open to the terrace, get a table just inside); if you’re picnicking, don’t forget the utensils; make sure you pick a garden where you’re allowed to sit on the grass; France doesn’t have open container laws, but don’t forget the corkscrew if you’ve brought the wine; beware of automatic sprinklers and particularly persistent pigeons. The worst thing in hot weather is being crammed into a Metro car full of irritated, sweaty bodies. Take the bus if you can’t walk, especially the open-back bus #29 from the Bastille, through the Marais, to the Opera Garnier.

* Visit a Paris Vineyard *
You don’t have to leave Paris to visit a vineyard. Since 1933 the Commune Libre de Montmartre’s Clos-Montmartre has been produced from the grapes grown on the hillside in the 18th arrondissement. About 500 litres of ‘Picolo’ (the wine’s nickname, and the basis for the French slang term meaning ‘drunk’) is produced in the traditional way in the caverns under the Marie of the 18th arr;, mostly from Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Landay grapes. The vineyard is found at the corner of the rues des Saules and de Saint-Vincent. Not far away are two other Montmartre institutions : Le Lapin Agile Cabaret and the Musée de Montmartre (12 rue Cortot). Come to my chat session and I’ll tell you one of the amusing historical uses for this particular wine. To buy this rare wine (proceeds support the Commune): L’Inconnue de la Bastille, 12-14 rue Daval, 11th arr. Open 10:30am-8pm Tues-Sat.

* Your Own Paris Apartment *
Sometimes it’s cheaper to rent an apartment in Paris than it is to stay at the youth hostels, especially if you’re travelling in a small group. There are plenty of companies that will find you a furnished place in a chic neighborhood, but most are targeted towards business travelers and people with spare cash to burn. Enter Paris Vacation Apartments. Adorable apartments in different areas of Paris (like Palais Royale or Montmartre), with rates from $450 to $1900 per week, based on size and season (August is the best time). The website is great, with photos and a clear description of everything included (no hidden charges). The only thing missing is your own little Parisian pooch!

* Living on the Water in Paris *
If you’ve ever walked the quais of the Seine or the canal at the Bastille, you may have gazed longingly at the houseboat owners drinking wine on the decks of their lovely barges. I’ve always wondered what it was like to live on the water in the heart of the city, and I’ve finally found someone who explains it all, from the daily lifestyle to the ins and outs of doing it yourself. Here’s Martin and Marcia Reff’s story about their five years aboard the Opperdan:

* A French Film Frenzy *
My first favorite French film of all time was Delicatessen, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (who also directed La Cité des Enfants perdus). I saw it in my French Cinema class before I ever came to France, and I still love it. At the time, even with subtitles, I had no idea what the movie was really about, but with Jeunet’s films it doesn’t matter. His newest masterpiece, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain stars Audrey Tautou and Rufus (a great character who is in many of Jeunet’s films). It’s a huge hit in France (that actually means something, since most hits in France aren’t French), and if you don’t mind being a bit in the dark on the plot subtleties, go ahead and see it. As soon as it’s out on video in the US with subtitles, see it again. Check out the preview on Allo-Cine’s site (click on ‘bande annonce’ under the photos of Amelie):

* Levi’s Addicts *
A new shop opened in the Marais is devoted to the cult of Levi’s jeans. At NIM you’ll find the vintage (501S) and Red Label
Lines alongside underground Parisian designer interpretations from Zeus, André, Space Invader, etc. This stuff is usually only found in small doses at places like the Colette boutique. Ultra-trendy tee-shirts and price tags to match, but an artsy and hip atmosphere is guaranteed.
NIM, 16 rue du Bourg Tibourg 4th arr. (Metro : Hotel de Ville)

* An Indoor Cemetery *
You can see the Panthéon from almost any high point in Paris, but many people don’t really know what’s inside this architectural masterpiece. Built as a church in 1764 by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, there’s a mix of Gothic, Greek, and French Classic styles. The church became the Pantheon after one of the many French revolutions in 1789, and you can read about its history in the interactive computer terminals set up inside, or in the exhibit in the vaults underground. This is where over 70 ‘grands hommes’ of France are buried, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Zola, and Malraux. There’s even the Grande Dame, Marie Curie, who only recently became a resident in 1995 (re-interred to acknowledge her great contribution to France’s glory). Upstairs under the awesome dome, frescos cover the walls, and in the center, a giant hanging pendulum draws circles in the sand, demonstrating the movement of the Earth. Worth a visit, especially for science and history buffs.
Place du Panthéon, rue Soufflot (5th arr.), Metro/RER : Luxembourg
35 ff entry, open every day 9:30am-6:30pm.

* Q&A: Restaurants for Healthy Eating *
Question from Anthony in Malta:
My wife and I will be visiting Paris in June. We would like to locate restaurants in and near the Louvre, or in this area. My wife cannot eat anything with salt or fats. The food needs to be fresh and not covered with sauces etc. Any ideas of where we might be able to find a good, healthy eating place?

Heather’s Answer:
Paris can be difficult with such strict dietary concerns! In any case, I’d recommend vegetarian (there are many) to be on the safe side, since many vegetarians in France are actually macrobiotic, and eat only fresh foods with no salt or sauces added (and these types of restaurants are used to special dietary requests). Near the Louvre there’s one called ‘Entre Ciel et Terre’ at 5 rue Harold (tiny street SE of Place des Victoires; take rue du Louvre north from rue Rivoli and it’s on the left before rue Etienne Marcel). It’s the only veggie restaurant with a Michelin star (and cost will be under 200ff with wine).
Another place to try is more of a boutique and cafe with ‘bio’ products (organic), on the tiny rue des Halles (go east from Louvre on rue St. Honoré, it becomes rue des Halles for two blocks, the place is on the Seine side of the street, just across from the Novotel (you can’t miss it, but if you do, ask at the nice Irish pub at 18 rue des Halles, the Cruiscin Lan).
Here’s a link of other organic/macrobiotic restaurant around Paris:
Le Jardin des Pates is near rue Mouffetard (nice market street), I used to
eat there when I was a vegetarian, highly recommended.

If any readers out there have a favourite healthy food restaurant in Paris, let me know!

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