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Newsletter #28: July 2002


*** Secrets of Paris Newsletter #28: July 27, 2002 ***


* From the Home Office
* Paris Plage
* Closed in August
* Haute Couture Tunes
* The Seine Comes Alive
* If Dangerous Liaisons was Rated G
* Discount Tickets for Students
* Art Deco Gardens
* For Men Only
* Be Zen
* Smoke-Free Dining in Paris
* Another Paris Website
* Open-Air Cinema Films for August
* My Paris Calendar
* Plan Ahead for Fall’s Best Shows

* From the Home Office *
After moving house, buying a new computer (the old one was so old it was actually creaking) and finally getting the internet connection sorted out, the Secrets of Paris is back! The newsletter has doubled in size over the past four months, which is pretty amazing considering it’s only word-of-mouth that’s promoting it at the moment. Thanks to everyone who has passed it along to their friends and family! Stay tuned for big changes coming in the fall: the Secrets of Paris website, with access to my Paris Hotlinks Guide: about 1000 Paris websites (hey, I’ve been busy the past few months), sorted, classified, and with a description of exactly what you’ll find on the site to cut down on time wasted surfing. For now, enjoy this month’s extra long newsletter, and, if you’re lucky, Paris in the August! -H

* Paris Plage *
You have to see it to believe it: Paris has a beach! The quays of the Seine have been closed off from traffic from the Jardin des Tuilleries to the Quai Henry V and turned into two sand beaches and two grass beaches until August 18th. Imagine rows of palm trees, blue and white striped cabanas with food stands and chaise lounge rentals, pétanque (boules) pitches and a mini-golf course, volleyball court and a climbing wall, and daily musical concerts…all those Parisians packed like sardines on the Riviera must be jealous! My Parisian pal Claire reports that there’s also signs in English and French that explain the history of the Seine, and its flora and fauna. No sea, yet, but rumour has it that by 2007 the Seine will have two floating pools open year-round.
Check out the city web site for more details: http://www.mairie-paris.fr

* Closed in August *
Yes, a lot of shops are closed in August for the five-week paid summer holidays (that’s why the taxes are higher here). Little boulangeries, the corner Tabac, and almost every super-chic new restaurant around the Champs-Elysées closes so that the staff can spend the dog days in the country (or, most likely, on the beaches). Always call ahead to check if restaurants are open, and shops, too, if they’re out of your way. Five years ago it was horrible to get stuck in Paris in August if you lived there the rest of the year, but lately it’s become apparent to many of the locals that it’s actually quite nice to hang out in the city during the “calm” month. Less traffic, less stressed out people, and now the quays of the Seine are the place to be…

* Haute Couture Tunes *
If you’ve ever watched a fashion show and found yourself more intrigued by the music than anything sauntering by, then this music shop is for you. Two guys named Fred (Sanchez and Bladou) rule the soundtracks of the catwalk, and they have a store where they sell their stylish mixes. Listening stations, the greenhouse-like setting and regular art shows feature into the mix.
Espace Frederick Sanchez
5 rue Sainte Anastase, 3rd arr.

* The Seine Comes Alive *
Not only is the Seine swarmed by bikini-clad Parisians and palms, it’s also come alive this summer unlike ever before, with dancing, live music, new bars with wide terraces right on the quays. Here’s just a short list of Seine-side entertainment:
– Bring a date and your dancing shoes for the nightly salsa, tango and swing dances from 9pm until 1am at the "Quais de Seine" (Square Tino Rossi, Quai St Bernard, 5th arr.; small entry fee, cancelled in case of rain).
– Sunday afternoon you can groove at the DJ music festival on the quays in front of the two most popular musical peniches, Le Batofar and Le Guingette Pirate (Quai François Mauriac, 13th arr; next dates Aug 4, Aug 25, and Sept 8). Info: http://www.batofar.org or http://www.guinguettepirate.com
– The K-Lounge (Quai Henri IV, 4th arr.) serves up the city’s chilled aperitifs on the Seine, with art expositions, live DJs and that classic summer staple – Wednesday BBQs! Nightly, 1pm-midnight through the end of August.

* If Dangerous Liaisons was Rated G *
If John Malkovich and Uma Thurman shocked you in the movie Dangerous Liaisons, then perhaps you’d better forget the French film Le Libertin. I watched it a few weeks ago on regular French public television: Vincent Perez and Audrey Tautou in the Full Monty, and certain positions and combinations that normally only appear in Hustler…still, it’s hilarious (the Baroness of the house introduces her disgusted guests to ‘exotic’ foods like chocolate and pineapple), educational (it’s about the French philosopher Diderot during the Siècle des Lumières), and actress Fanny Ardant is as witty and beautiful as ever. Even if your French is bad, I recommend trying to rent or buy this film when you get the chance.

* Discount Tickets for Students *
Beyond the regular pathetic discount given to starving students, there are two kiosks in Paris selling tickets (theatre, shows, sporting events, etc.) to those under 26 at 30-80% off the regular price. So get out there and get some culture! (Cheaper than a cocktail at the Plaza Athénée)
– Kiosque Bastille
25, BD Bourdon (4th arr.)
Tel: 01 42 76 22 60; Mon-Fri 10am-7pm
– Kiosque Luxembourg
91, Bd St Michel ( Cyber espace Le Mulot Fûté; 6th arr.)
Tel: 01 40 51 12 05; Mon-Sat noon-8pm

* Art Deco Gardens *
If you want to see a part of Paris rarely seen by visitors check out the Art Deco gardens of the 1930s. Created between the two World Wars were meant to connect the newly constructed housing developments just inside the Peripherique with the greenery of the suburbs. Often called architectural gardens for the trend of blending "new" manmade materials with nature, today these little gems remain fine examples of Art Deco design (and a bit of respite from the city heat):
– Square St-Lambert (15th arr.): Cubism and Art Deco lines combine in this square, which replaced an old gas factory in 1933.
– Square de la Butte du Chapeau Rouge (19th arr.): Built in 1914 by the same architect who designed Trocadero, this virtually unknown garden is quite large and full of little surprises. It’s worth going out of your way to visit.
– Jardin des Gobelins (13th arr.): Aka Square René Le Gall, this garden was created by the modernist designer Jean-Charles Moreux just two steps from the Gobelins Tapestry Studios. This is considered one of the most magnificent gardens of the 1930s.
– Le Parc Kellermann (13th arr.): This garden replaced part of the old Paris city ramparts, and is now bordered by the Peripherique road and another main boulevard, yet it remains a haven of calm, and a fine example of the French school of garden design.

* For Men Only *
When’s the last time you had a proper shave by a “Maître Barbier”? Alain is the proprietor of the only proper barbershop left in Paris, so treat yourself to this wonderful indulgence and get the full cut and shave, or just a trim. Decorated with authentic barbershop antiques, and photos showing the history of the profession over the centuries.
Alain Maître Barbier
8, rue St Claude, 3rd arr., Metro St-Sébastien-Froissart
Tel: 01-42-77-55-80

* Be Zen *
Looking for a place to meditate in Paris? The Dojo Zen de Paris has regular zazen sessions, retreats in the Val-de-Loire, and a boutique. Their website is very informative (but only in French):
175 rue de Tolbiac, 13th arr.
Tel: 01 53 80 19 19

* Smoke-Free Dining in Paris *
If you’re a smoker visiting from California, then maybe this guide isn’t for you (and enjoy your freedom while it lasts!). For the rest of us who have had one too many lovely dinners out ruined by the thick stench of cigarette smoke, then click on this long link to the wonderful “Bonjour Paris’ Guide to Non-Smoking Restaurants”:

* Another Paris Website *
The latest restaurants, clubs, and cool hotels are listed on this very high-tech website (the navigation takes a minute to get used to). There’s also free classifieds for jobs, housing, and meeting people in Paris. The Business Directory has language schools, taxi numbers, tours, childcare, etc. Go and check them out:

* Open-Air Cinema Films for August *
It’s not too late to catch one of the summer’s free, open-air cinema showings. Grab a picnic, a pillow, and a warm blanket in case it gets chilly, and head on over to Parc de la Villette for the 10pm show (in English with French subtitles):
Dr. Strange Love – August 3rd
The Purple Rose of Cairo – August 9
The Fly – August 11th
Matrix – August 13th
For more info: http://www.villette.com

* My Paris Calendar *
Check out the Paris section of this website for easyjet’s inflight magazine (FYI: easyjet is the inter-European discount airline that just started service to Paris in June). I’ve updated the August Diary of things to see and do (hey, not everything closes in August), with hotels, dining, nightlife and shopping, too. (I also have an article in there about beach-side dining on the Riviera, in case you’re in the area).

* Plan Ahead for Fall’s Best Shows *
Patric Bruel: Sept 11-13, Olympia Hall
Händle’s Julius Caesar Opera: Opens Sept 16, Opéra Garnier
Oasis: Sept 17, Zénith de Paris
Andrea Bocelli: Sept 18, Bercy
Elvis Costello: Sept 19, Le Grand Rex
Brian Ferry: Sept 22, Olympia Hall
Kraftwerk: Sept 25-26, La Cité de la Musique
Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Ballet: Opens Sept 27, Opéra Bastille

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