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Newsletter #13: August 2001

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #13: August 11, 2001***

* From the Home Office*
All of the secrets in this edition were found tucked away in various magazines I read while vacationing in the Savoie region of France last week (up in the Alps). Nova, Madame Figaro, ELLE France, and other French magazines always have great little tidbits of info tucked into the editorial if you know where to look (and, obviously, if you have time to read French publications). Whenever I go to Paris on my short trips, I like to spend the time on the hour-long flight reading the local magazines. You find so much more than you will just reading the English-language magazines (although they’re quite helpful, too), things that Parisians want to know about, not just tourists. I highly recommend, for all of you that like to weather jet-lag in style, to get thee to a café or brasserie (comfy chairs a must) in a good people-watching street (there are a few at the Rue du Four/ Rue du Dragon intersection in the 6th) with a stack of the local reads and latest Pariscope, and spend the first day just relaxing and reading, circling all of the good finds that you’ll check out once you’re feeling human again. Drink some good espresso and try not to fall asleep before 8pm. And look out for dog droppings. And don’t forget Wednesday (August 15) is “Assomption”, a religious holiday in France, and more shops than usual will be closed. -H

* Artisan Sorbet *
If you’ve had enough of Berthillon (and the lines), then check out these two top sorbet parlors, a real gourmet treat for those hot and sticky days:
– Alberto at 45 rue Mouffetard in the 5th arr. creates beautiful sorbet creations on a cone in the shape of flowers, in all of the fruity and decadent flavours (Nutella!).
– Spécial Comptoir at 123 rue Oberkampf in the 11th arr. makes sorbet in flavours such as basil, carot and avocado, in addition to all of the classics.

* Pamper Your Piggies *
Never underestimate the power of a good foot massage! La Maison Pang, a pagoda-inspired salon near Saint-Lazare, welcomes you to their large and comfy black leather arm chairs while they take care of your feet in the traditional Chinese fashion, from pedicures to massages starting at 165ff. Some of the clients have been coming to Po Pang for forty years, no doubt for the friendly service and impeccable cleanliness.
Maison Pang: 13 rue Laborde, 8th arr. Tel: 01-45-22-22-52

* Belleville from the Inside *
A tour unlike others, you don’t visit monuments or museums, but instead learn about the “underground” world of Belleville and Ménilmontant quarters from the people who live there. Visit hidden boutiques, artists’ squats, secret passageways and other things that most Parisians, let alone visitors, ever see. Created in 1999, the Belleville Insolite Association employs young, multi-cultural guides who live in the neighborhood (and who speak many languages) to open the area to tourism adapted specifically to this lively area of Paris. Call to reserve a spot!
Belleville Insolite: 24 rue Robert-Houdin, 11th arr. Tel: 01-43-57-49-85.

* Hidden Garden in Montmartre *
Escape the crowds in one of the unknown gardens of the touristy neighborhood on the hill! Le Jardin Saint-Vincent was an abandoned jungle-esque space up until 1985, and now it retains its slightly wild look, perfect for those hot August afternoons. Keep your eyes peeled for the local Loch Ness monster in the garden’s water basin…
Enter across from 14 rue Saint-Vincent, in the 18th arr. (Metro Lamarck-Caulincourt). Open April through October.

* Japanese Fashion Influence *
All of the Japanese girls in Paris always have the coolest bags, the cutest t-shirts, the latest Nike’s and the best of the 80s memorabilia. They must be shopping at Tokoïte, the super disco, ultra pop store in the Marais. In a slick, pop-art décor you’ll find everything from limited-edition Converse sneakers (made only in Japan) to Japanese Barbie accessories and rainbow lingerie. Happy shopping!
Tokoïte: 12 rue Roi-de-Sicile, 4th arr., open 1pm-9pm Tue-Sun.

* Cinema Under the Stars *
This summer you’ll find nightly open-air movies at the Parc de la Villette (Metro Porte Pantin). You can pay 40ff for a chair or bring your own blanket and picnic and sit on the grass for free. Arrive early (7:30pm) for a good spot. Don’t forget a pillow, and dress warmly, it gets cold at the end of the night! The films are usually old classics and modern ‘independent’ films (“Freaks” by Tod Browning is showing this Friday, “Nos Funéralis” by Abel Ferrara on Saturday, in the original versions). Check the Pariscope for the program or just show up and enjoy the atmosphere. Through August 26th, so hurry up before summer is over! (There’s also rumour of open air cinema at Parc André-Citröen in the 15th arr., but I can’t find any concrete info on it)
12th Festival de Cinéma en Plein Air: 229 de l’avenue Jean Jaurès 19th arr. (Parc de la Villette)
http://www.arbo.com/Cinema/ (site in French)

* Two Words to Know in Paris *
Paname: another word for Paris, usually found in nostalgic references and in descriptions of Edith Piaf style music of yesteryear.
Tata Beach: the places along the quays of the Seine near the Tuileries where people sunbathe in the summer. Also called Queen Beach because of the sexual orientation of many of the sunbathers.

* Creative Hair *
If you lived through the 80’s you may remember some of the more “exciting” hair styles, especially in the bangs/fringe department, where your truly sported what looked like a cresting wave, hair-sprayed to a stiff vertical position on my forehead. Well you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the hair exhibition at the Cité des Sciences. Titled “Le cheveu se decode”, the exhibit covers all sorts of strange and wonderful hair trivia (ie, what the police can find out about you just by looking at your hair), and displays some hairy couture creations made from the very real human variety. Through January 2002.
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industry: 30 ave Corentin-Cariou, 19th arr. (Porte de la Villette).

* New at Suite101.com *
Carolyn just moved to Paris and wrote to me asking where to walk her two Old English Sheepdogs. This month’s article, “Pooches in Paris: A Dog’s Delight” is for everyone who has a dog in Paris, or hopes to bring theirs with them to Paris on vacation. That adorable little doggy in the photo is my Little Lena (don’t let that innocent look fool ya, she’s a little devil!):

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