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Newsletter #32: December 2002

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #32: December 15, 2002***



* From the Home Office
* Adieu au Batofar
* Holiday Events
* Swedish Design Exposition
* Cheap Flights
* Mmm…Steak
* A Hotel for Romantics
* Would the Real FUSAC Please Stand Up?!
* Post Your Ad
* A Bustier that’s Worth It!
* Other Paris News
* France Articles and Links

* From the Home Office *
Good news this issue! Just after I sent out the last newsletter to all of you, I signed a contract with Hunter Publishing to write the Adventure Guide to Paris (the first European city in their Adventure Guide series). So I’ll be spending the better part of 2003 up in Paris and Ile-de-France (lots to see out there!) verifying facts, checking up on all of the old favorite places, and finally getting all of the piles of research I’ve been squirreling away over the past five years off my desk and into a book. And don’t think for a second that I’d forget about all of you! The newsletter will continue, ad-free as always. And thank you to everyone who keeps passing this newsletter on to their friends – we’ve reached 350 subscribers this month! A happy and safe holiday season to all of you! -H

* Adieu au Batofar *
So I’m on the RER to Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, reading Nova Magazine, and there, in tiny, tiny text is the confirmation of the ugly rumor: the Batofar is closing this month for financial reasons. Expect them to go out with a bang, the website promises a surprise “big name” DJ on the 20th, with the final hurrah on the 28th. I won’t be back in Paris again before January, so I won’t get to have one last dance on the big red boat (read the Nova on the way *in* to Paris), but I hope all of you take the opportunity! http://www.batofar.org/

* Free Holiday Events *
If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris for the holidays, don’t miss out on all of the great events going on around town. Pick up the 3-page printout “Festivités de Fin d’Année” from the Hôtel de Ville’s welcome desk. You’ll find listings of all the ice skating rinks, Christmas Mass celebrations, Christmas markets, and merry-go-rounds in the city and suburbs.
Salon d’Accueil de l’Hôtel de Ville
29, rue de Rivoli, 4th arr., open daily
Web site (mostly French): http://www.paris.fr

* Swedish Design Exposition *
Are you a big Ikea fan? Check out the exposition and artisan sale at the Swedish Cultural Center through December 29th. You can also try the traditional Swedish Christmas specialties at the Café Suédois, open during the expo.
Marché de Design
Open daily (except Monday) noon until 6pm.
11 rue Payenne, 3rd arr.
http://www.si.se (in French or Swedish)

* Cheap Flights *
If you’re looking for cheap flights out of Paris, easyJet isn’t the only low-cost carrier in France. AirLib Express has some great fares to France, Italy and the French Caribbean (and you don’t have to buy your coffee and sandwich). For example: Nice, Marseille and Rome (€56 round trip) and Guadeloupe (€99 round-trip). Check out their site: http://www.airlibexpress.com/

* Mmm…Steak *
Last week I was in Paris and met up with a friend who lives in the Marais, but doesn’t know the area too well, yet (ie. we were supposed to meet at the Lizard Lounge but he turned up at the Sept Lézards the next street over…). His excuse? He always goes to the same place when he eats out, Au Gamin de Paris. “The best steak in Paris” he promises, so I’m there (and I drag along Claire, who goes on about the “Duck that tastes like steak”). I ordered the steak cooked with honey, and it was the best steak I’ve had in ages! Of course, you’d better like it medium-rare, because they just won’t cook it any more than that. Try the escargots on a bed of roast potatoes, too (but avoid the heavy chocolate cake unless you’ve got an iron stomach). Count on spending about €35 for dinner.
Gamin de Paris: 51 rue Vieille du Temple, 4th arr. Tel: 01 42 78 97 24

* A Hotel for Romantics *
I get to visit a lot of nice hotels in Paris, and I have to say my favorite so far is the Royal Monceau on Avenue Hoche. It’s one of Paris’s palace hotels, with all of the luxuries you could want with the feel of a real French apartment (unlike a chain hotel). There’s an Italian restaurant and a traditional French restaurant called “Le Jardin”, which is in a glass pavilion in the courtyard gardens. On the ground floor there’s a spa, “Les Thermes” for pampering and heated pool which gets natural light from the large windows – guests get free access. They have special packages for Honeymoons, families, and shopping addicts. If you’re looking for a real treat, try their “Royale Suite”, 280m² with its own sauna and whirlpool tub, meeting room, living room, kitchen and two luxurious bedrooms (about €5300/night). If you’re looking for a boutique hotel, try the Vernet, just behind the Champs-Elysées near the Etoile. It has just 51 rooms decorated in classic Parisian style, a glass elevator and guests have access to Les Thermes at the Royal Monceau (five minutes on foot). You don’t have to be a guest to check out the trendy Jaïpur bar and grill (Indian decor and cool DJ mixes) or Les Elysées restaurant, with two Michelin stars and an Art Nouveau glass ceiling (structure designed by Gustave Eiffel). What I love about these hotels the most is the friendly welcome and top service (no snobby or rude people here, folks). For rates and specials, check out their websites: http://www.hotelvernet.com and http://www.royalmonceau.com

* FUSAC Confusion! *
Most newcomers to Paris quickly find themselves a copy of the invaluable FUSAC (France-USA Contacts Magazine), the free twice-monthly magazine with employment and housing ads. If you want to buy your FUSAC Magzine ad over the web, make sure you go to www.fusac.fr or www.fusac.org, but *NOT* http://www.fusac.com. This is a US-based site that does have ads online, but they don’t print the magazine distributed in Paris.

* Post Your Ad *
Aside from the FUSAC, you can put a housing or employment OFFER ad up at the American Church (www.americanchurchparis.org) for a small fee. If you’re looking for housing or a job, you can put up an ad for free at the American Cathedral (www.us.net/amcathedral-paris/), although there’s much less “traffic” there.

* A Bustier that’s Worth It! *
I’d been meaning to check out the latest “fashion street”, on rue des Gardes in the 18th, and last week I finally got a chance to visit. As part of a project between the Mairie de Paris and the Prêt-à-Porter federation, eight couture boutiques of “emerging talent” have opened right in the heart of the Goutte d’Or neighborhood. If you get off the metro at Chateau-Rouge, it can be a bit creepy (make sure you know where you’re going and don’t visit this area after dark if you don’t know the area), but the designers assure me they haven’t had any problems so far. My favorite boutique is Sylviane Nuffer’s (at 6 bis, rue des Gardes), with the most amazing leather bustiers and corsets I’ve ever seen! You can check out her website, but the photos don’t do the creations justice at all: http://sn.style.free.fr
For more info about the rue de Gardes: www.capitale-mode.com

* Other Paris News *
Check out my Paris Calendar (written for easyJet’s inflight magazine) for things to see and do, hotels, dining, nightlife and shopping, too:

* France Articles and Links *
Read my articles about France (including Paris) and find some useful links at my other website, France from the Inside, at Suite101.com. This month’s article is about what it’s really like to live in France: www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/4820

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