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Newsletter #30: October 2002

Paris rooftops

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #30: October 1, 2002***


* From the Home Office
* Callas Forever
* Nuit Blanche
* Les Soldes at Galeries Lafayette
* Books and More Books
* Relocation in Help German or English
* Toastmasters in Paris
* Mom’s Shopping Paradise
* T-9 Whining
* Dining with Claire
* Who is this Claire person, anyway?
* Paris by Mobile Phone
* Indoor Roller Park
* My Paris Calendar

* From the Home Office *
Fall is my favorite time to visit Paris. Even though the mornings and evenings are chilly, it usually warms up during the day. I spent a week last month running around (catching a cold) in Paris, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. At Ric’s Thursday Café Metropole Club meeting I got to meet a few Secrets of Paris readers, some permanent Parisians, others in town “indefinitely”. While browsing around a book store I ran into a former co-worker from my muffin-shop days (more below on that), and finally got to visit an old friend’s bar in my old student hangout by rue Mouffetard. As large as Paris really is, it always feels like a village to me. Maybe it’s because people really have a better chance of running into each other when they use their feet to get around instead of a car! I’ll be back up in Paris again in November for two weeks, hope to run into more of you then! -H

* Callas Forever *
I had no idea who Maria Callas was until Tina, my old editor at ELLE.com (and now the editor of Vogue.fr) let me tag along with her to the opening of the film Callas Forever on September 16. Directed by the Italian legend Zeffirelli and starring (my favorite French actress) Fanny Ardant and Jeremy Irons, it’s a sort of fictional idea of the last months in the life of one of the greatest diva opera stars of all time. It’s set in Paris, but it’s in English, Italian and French with subtitles. You don’t have to know about her history to enjoy the film (in fact it seems critics who adored Callas actually disliked the film). We were seated right behind Jackie O’s sister (Tina spots them all), which is quite interesting considering that Aristotle Onassis broke Maria’s heart by marrying Jacqueline…and yes, there’s a bit in the film about that.

* Nuit Blanche *
After a beach on the Seine, the Mairie de Paris is now sponsoring a “Nuit Blanche” on the evening of October 5 until the morning of October 6, where the city’s cultural establishments remain open to the public all night: including museums, pools, the catacombes, parks, monuments, libraries, etc. There’s going to be special events like readings and live music and all sorts of things to get people to discover the wonderful cultural delights of Paris. And if you can stay up late enough, breakfast served outside…check out the program on the Tourism Office website:

* Les Soldes at Galeries Lafayette *
From today until October 5th, department store Galeries Lafayette are having a sale, with up to 40% off on the season’s latest fashions. Glad me and my credit cards are far, far away (the Galeries here in Nice just aren’t as amazing as the one on Blvd Haussman). If you’re interested in attending the weekly fashion show, sign-up on their bilingual web site: http://www.galerieslafayette.com/inter/index.asp

* Books and More Books *
There are plenty of places to buy books in Paris, but not all are created equal, of course. I’ve always found a good selection of English books at the elegant Galignani (224 rue de Rivoli, metro Tuileries), and many of them are actually cheaper than at W.H. Smith’s down the road (maybe only €3, but I actually checked!). If you’re a resident or frequent visitor who isn’t scared off by thick French paperbacks, look out for the hefty “Le Petit Futé Paris 2003”. It’s usually €10, but I found it at a Maxi-Livres chain store for about €8. It’s full of “good deal” addresses for shopping, dining, nightlife, etc., and is a Parisian staple to live by! (There’s also the Paris/Ile-de-France edition, but it’s smaller, oddly enough) Finally, if you’re looking for some good coffee-table sized books at a steep discount, there’s a great store called “Culture, livres en papier” at 17 bis rue Pavé in the Marais that sells old Paris magazines and coffee table books cheaper than most places (they’re not exactly the latest editions). Just across the street is the excellent book shop for the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, with every book about the history of Paris you could possibly want.

* Relocation in Help German or English *
Hardly anyone moves to Paris from abroad without facing a bit of cross-cultural difficulties. Anna Eicher is the head of CMI (Consulting Moving International), and can help you out whether you’re an English or German-speaking newcomer to France (or looking for help finding that Parisian ‘pied-à-terre’). Check out her site:

* Toastmasters in Paris *
Anna is also the Area Governor for the Paris Toastmasters. If you’re interested in improving your public speaking skills in English or French within a supportive group environment, give Anna a call and she’ll let you know all about joining the local chapter. Tel: 01 47 00 40 09

* Mom’s Shopping Paradise *
Well, my mom’s anyway! I was wandering around in the 5th arrondissement just near the Seine, and noticed a bunch of cute shops all right next to each other. Not my cup of tea, but I know others who are always looking for these, so enjoy!

Jeanne et Jeremy
4 rue Frédéric Sauton, 5th
A magical boutique selling handcrafted dolls and bears, many one-of-a-kind’s.

Le Rouvray
1 rue de la Bûcherie
This is a sort of paradise for patchwork addicts. I have no idea how it’s pronounced though.

Tapisserie de la Bûcherie
2 rue Haut Pavé, 5th
Cross-stitch & embroidery supplies are the raison d’être of this large boutique, and they have a website:

* T-9 Whining *
I like easyJet, it’s cheap and usually painless (even though I have to fish around to find enough change to pay for my 6am flight coffee). It lands at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Terminal 9 (T-9). Just to warn anyone else flying in or out of this terminal, it’s a long walk outside from the RER! Be sure to have an extra layer handy for those chilly mornings that seem glacial after the stuffy RER. As for shopping and ‘dining’ at T-9, it’s more like a bus stop than an airport terminal, so don’t get your hopes up. Now that I’m done whining…I must say it’s the least crowded terminal!

* Dining with Claire *
Claire introduced me to a truly authentic historic restaurant just around the corner from the Louvre, called Le Caveau François Villon (64 rue de l’Arbre Sec, 1st; Tel: 01 42 36 10 92). It’s in a listed building with a 15th century cellar. The wooden beams on the ceilings were thicker than me. The €24 menu is traditional gourmet French (and there’s only the menu to choose from, no “à la carte”), and if Claire doesn’t help them redo their English translation of the menu, you’ll have a good laugh (don’t worry, no matter what you order it will be just fine). Apparently the crème brûlée is the best in Paris (trust Claire on this, she knows). I don’t recommend trying to eat here when you need to catch a flight two hours later. Good food takes time…(sorry about that Claire!)

* Who is this Claire person, anyway? *
In case you’re new, Claire is my best friend and the quintessential “Parisienne” (she was born in Ireland to a French mother, English father, and grew up in New Zealand before moving to Paris…). She writes the English text for all those beauty products on your bathroom shelf and on the side teaches French executives how to speak and work in English. If you need top-notch translation work, or help with your cross-cultural business relations, contact me (heather@secretsofparis.com) and I’ll have Claire contact you (‘cuz she’d kill me if I gave out her phone number!)

* Paris by Mobile Phone *
The latest tourism trick in Paris is the mobile phone sightseeing guide. The general theme is that you type the number of any given monument or museum, and then listen to commentary in English on a mobile phone. Some companies give you the number to call from your own phone, others rent you the phone itself with calling time and discounts included, etc. Here are two to try yourselves, I haven’t given it a go yet:

Allo Visit: (from your own phone, about €1 per monument) You have to pick up the post card at the Tourism Office for the little picture map and dialing code.

Cell Concierge: a comprehensive 7-day cell phone program for $99, with a personal number you can give and receive calls from home , 60 minutes of free local airtime, English-language recordings that provide information on major Paris sights, restaurants, boutiques, etc:

* Indoor Roller Park *
There’s an indoor skate park at Vitry-sur-Seine (14min by RER C, or take the cycle route from Bercy if you’re feeling sporty). Beginners and pros alike will find 6000m2 of various tracks and ramps for all levels of in-line skaters and skateboarders (all can be rented on site). There are also classes if you’re hopeless or want to learn new tricks before heading out to the Friday Night Skate. Check out the site for more info, times, photos, fees, etc:

* 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 October Diary of things to see and do, with hotels, dining, nightlife and shopping, too.

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