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Newsletter #33: January 2003

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #33: January 13, 2003***


* From the Home Office
* Department Stores
* Shopping Malls
* Antiques
* The Covered Passages
* Cool Parisian Mail-Order Magnets
* Another Paris Website
* Museum Guide and Free Newsletter
* Samedis Anti-Stress
* Independent Cinema

* From the Home Office *
Nature can be so cruel! Here it is, deep into the winter sales, and Paris has been getting snow. Last weekend over 15,000 people were stuck in their cars all night on the autoroutes around Ile-de-France (the region where Paris is located, FYI) as the snow piled up. Today it’s a chilly -4C° (that’s below freezing, eek!) Thank goodness for shopping malls, eh? I used to think malls were pretty stupid, preferring to go from boutique to boutique along the streets. Then I lived in Minnesota and discovered why the Mall of America was so popular! I just had an email today from a reader asking me if she should bother coming to Paris in April with such unpredictable Spring weather. Well, I think Paris is great any time, even if the weather is too hot, too cold…I mean, c’mon, it’s not Minnesota! This issue is devoted to shopping under cover in Paris, just in case some of you are visiting from Tahiti or Scottsdale and don’t like the icky vold and wet stuff all over you. Happy shopping! -H

* Department Stores *

The grands magasins are a great place to stay all day. Most have restaurants and cafés, gourmet food stores, beauty salons, free public toilets (!) and all of the usual departments that could take all day to properly explore…just try and avoid them during the weekends and the sales unless you’re a rugby champ!

• Le Bon Marché (7th, Metro Sèvres-Babylone) Great lingerie department, and the Epicerie across the street is divine! www.lebonmarche.fr
• La Samaritaine (1st, Metro Pont Neuf) Multiple stores connected by bridges make up this department store. Free panoramic view from the fifth floor café. www.lasamaritaine.com
• Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps (9th, Metro Chausée-d’Antin or Auber) These two classics are right next to each other on boulevard Haussmann, huge and splendid. Free fashion shows at Galeries Lafayette, ask at the welcome desk. www.printemps.comand www.galerieslafayette.com
• Le Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (aka BHV, 4th, Metro Hôtel-de-Ville) It’s smaller than the others but still a classic, and there’s free daily do-it-yourself lectures 4pm at the Bricolo Café downstairs. www.bhv.fr

* Shopping Malls *

• Franck et Fils (80 rue de Passy, 16th; Metro: Muette) This is the department store where the chic ladies of the 16th shop, a sort of Bon Marché of the Right Bank. Stop into Ladurée for some cakes and tea when you get weary.
• Carrousel du Louvre (entrance at 99, rue de Rivoli, 1st; Metro Louvre-Rivoli) I know it’s full of chain shops, but I like most of them (L’Occitane, Agatha, Lalique, Résonances, Nature-et-Découvertes so there. Open every day, with change bureau, food court, post office, bank and car rental, direct access to Louvre and the official Ile-de-France Tourism Office. www.lecarrouseldulouvre.com
• Forum des Halles (directly connected to the Metro and RER at Les Halles) I usually hate this mall because the shops aren’t that great and the crowd gets a bit worrisome, but there’s two redeeming factors: the Espace Créateurs on level -1, a collection of 50 up-and-coming designers selling their hand-made clothes and accessories for a steal; I also like the cinema here, which has a huge selection of films shown in their original language, and a Lina’s Café to grab a sandwhich while you wait. www.forum-des-halles.com

* Antiques *
The last time I took someone to the Marché aux Puces there was a huge rainstorm with hurricane-like winds. Stroll the hundreds of antique dealers in comfort and warmth in the Louvre des Antiquaires (less tour groups than you’ll find in the actual Louvre, but hard to know who has more antiques…)
Le Louvre des Antiquaires (Place du Palais-Royal, 1st; Metro: Palis-Royal) www.louvre-antiquaires.com

* The Covered Passages *
You’ll need a good map to connect all of the covered passages of Paris. Here are the best shopping ones you should aim for: Véro-Dodat, 1st, Passage Choiseul, 2nd, Galeries Colbert & Vivienne, 2nd, Passage du Grand-Cerf, 2nd, Passage des Panoramas, 2nd, Passage Jouffroy, 9th, and Passage Brady, 10th for some great Indian curry! http://passagescouverts.free.fr/
You can also stroll under cover from the rain along the galleries surrounding the Jardin du Palais Royal (1st, Metro Palais-Royal), don’t miss the Shiseido perfume and cosmetic boutique, or the posh garden shop, Le Prince Jardinier.

* Cool Parisian Mail-Order Magnets *
Need to shop but don’t want to leave the house? Check out the funky Paris magnets by the company La Plume de Louise: get French word magnets by themes like “grocery list”, “children’s words” and “words for lovers” (great way to learn French), as well as Metro magnets that trace certain historic lines. Great gifts or souvenirs.

* Another Paris Website *
I’m not the only one who writes about Paris for free. Nancy and Paul Body have a fun little website I found by accident today. Check out Nancy’s “How to Enjoy Paris” guide. I especially like the photo of her playing accordion on the Canal St-Martin. 😉

* Museum Guide and Free Newsletter *
Paris Muse does personalized guided tours of Paris’s museums. They also have a free newsletter called Quoi de Neuf? with news on the latest art exhibitions in the city’s museums and galleries, and also music and theatre news. You can peek at a few back issues at the website:

* Samedis Anti-Stress *
The “well-being” boutique, Kiria is holding Anti-Stress Saturdays for €80, which include a day-long program of yoga, qi Gong, and instruction on how to give massages to self or others; individual courses available for €20, call to sign up. Also, if you’re just passing the boutique, there are massages on Mon, Wed and Saturday afternoons: shiatsu massage sessions on an ergonomic chair (with clothes) is €1/minute, 15 minutes minimum, no appointment necessary; essential oil massage in cabin, €60 for the hour, appointment necessary.
Kiria: 108 blvd St-Germain, 6th; 01 55 42 52 52

* Independent Cinema *
Hard to beleive they exist anymore, but you can still go to a movie theatre that isn’t part of a chain selling M&Ms for €5. Studio 28 is not just an independent cinema, it’s also a historical monument. Founded in 1928, it was the first place where Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel’s film “L’Age d’Or” was shown – then banned by the Extreme Right prefect of the time. After WWII Jean Cocteau decorated the interior, and the doors reminiscent of those in “La Belle et la Bête” are still there.
Studio 28
10, rue Tholozé, 18th; Metro: Blanche, Abbesses, Tel : 01 46 06 36 07
Tickets: €6.80 (€4.80 Wed-Fri at 3pm).

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