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Newsletter #39: October 2003

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***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #39: October 5, 2003***


* From the Home Office
* American Church Seeks Silent Auction Items!
* Victoria Needs a Home
* Writers’ Inspiration
* Sketching Atelier near Canal St-Martin
* Rare Chance to Visit Sculpture Studios
* Marché aux Puces Antiques Festival
* Contemporary Artists’ Market
* Foie Gras Festival
* The Latest Hyped Parisian Nightclub
* Books for Foodies
* Shopping for l’Amour
* October is for Chocolate Lovers
* Planning Ahead for November

* From the Home Office *
This month I’m writing from the Provençal/Côte d’Azur village of Valbonne, still trying to finish up the Adventure Guide to Paris. The first four chapters are done, and I’m now deep into the long sightseeing section, which always causes me the most anguish as I try and balance what I think is interesting to visit, and what people think they should visit. I suppose in the end I will put both, trying to make it clear why I think some places aren’t worth the time or money, especially for those who may only go to Paris once in their lives. Why does the tourist office and every tour operator online try to sell visitors tickets to the Moulin Rouge and Lido cabarets? I’m sure it’s more for the affiliate kickbacks then the belief that these Vegas-style shows represent the best of Paris in any way. Ditto for those horrid companies offering tours to Versailles by private minibus that last only 4 hours. Don’t let anyone try and convince you that you could get anything meaningful out of Versailles in 4 hours. If you’re going to “do the chateaux” outside Paris, do them right and spend the day. Anyway, enough of my ranting, enjoy this month’s issue, and please send your feedback, I enjoy your letters! -H

* American Church Seeks Silent Auction Items! *
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a churchgoer — or even American — the American Church is an important part of the Paris expat community. In addition to those popular job an housing boards, they also host regular Bloom Where You’re Planted seminars and a welcome and information center with reference guides in English. They also give meeting space to community outreach groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and provide assistance for refugees. After the general economic malaise and turmoil in world affairs over the past year, the American Church has a deficit of almost 10% of their total budget. They’re holding a Silent Auction and Raffle next Saturday, October 11, to help raise funds (and fun), and are seeking donations of items or services. Some items already promised include wine, babysitting, a Segway tour of Paris for 2 by Mike’s Bikes, lunch with a New York Times reporter, and meals for two families for four at Breakfast in America. If you’d like to make a contribution, call Alice Gardiner (01 42 27 74 82) or e-mail Margaret Alessi (margaretalessi@noos.fr) as soon as possible. And everyone is welcome to attend the auction, of course, on Saturday evening, 8pm (desserts provided).

* Victoria Needs a Home *
One of the good things about being a writer is that people can find me easily. Victoria and I arrived in Paris together back in 1995 for our “Junior Year Abroad”, and lost touch after both of us moved multiple times over the past few years. This summer in Paris she saw my article in Connexion Magazine and sent me an e-mail to say hello — from the same internet café I’d been using all summer! Victoria has just started a two-year masters program at the illustrious Sciences Po’ in Paris, and is desperately looking for a place to live when her current lease runs out the end of this month. If anyone has a large studio (at least 25m²) or one-bedroom flat for rent, €700/month max, contact Victoria at: 06 14 96 08 23 or vashdown@hotmail.com.

* Writers’ Inspiration *
How many of you have been inspired to write about your experiences in Paris? I met the American writing coach and vegetarian cook Cynthia Morris at the Shakespeare & Co. Literary Festival this summer. She’s an avid Francophile writer who used to live and work in France, returning as often as possible ever since. I thought I’d pass on an amusing essay she wrote about working as a cook in Burgundy (which won a French essay contest hosted by Le Central restaurant in Denver, CO), called "Gout de Teroir — taste of Terror". And if you fancy yourself a writer, have a peek around her website, Original Impulse.

* Sketching Atelier near Canal St-Martin *
Want to learn or improve your sketching skills with a live model in an unintimidating, friendly environment? Curious what the inside of a real Parisian artist’s studio really looks like? Join other artists of all ages, nationalities and artistic ability for Saturday afternoon drawing sessions at the atelier of Brazilian artist Saulo Portela, just around the corner from the Canal St-Martin. One-time visits cost €20 and include the model’s fee and coffee/tea break. Rates are digressive for those who want to return on a regular basis. Call Saulo (he speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English and French) for more info and directions: 01 40 68 74 46 or 06 09 82 41 29, e-mail portela_saulo@yahoo.fr

* Rare Chance to Visit Sculpture Studios *
The historic sculpture studios of the Fondation de Coubertin are located in a magnificent setting in the town of St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse (near Rambouillet). For just two months, the public will be allowed to see where all of those monumental bronze sculptures decorating Paris and cities around the world are created, as well as the impressive sculpture gardens that show off the foundation’s collection of contemporary bronze and iron sculptures created between 1850 and today. The occasion of the opening is for the exposition celebrating the works of Art Deco sculptor Joseph Bernard (1866-1931). Open until November 16, entry €3.50. Located just 7 minutes on foot from RER B station St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. For more info check their website website or call 01 30 85 69 89.

* Marché aux Puces Antiques Festival *
There’s always antiques at the Marché aux Puces, but the festival on October 11-12 brings in the top dealers from France and around the world to show off their latest finds, with concerts and conferences throughout the day at the Marché Malassis. For more info contact the St-Ouen tourism office: 01 58 61 22 90.

* Contemporary Artists’ Market *
The Mac 2000 Salon is rare in that the artists themselves sit at the 115 stands representing their works, so no dealers are involved. This year there are 35 new artists represented. It takes place October 18-26 at the Espace Auteuil, Porte d’Auteuil, 16th, entry €8. For more info see www.mac2000-art.com

* Foie Gras Festival *
The 11th annual Salon Paris Fermier is the city’s only national market for farm-fresh terroir products, with this year’s focus on foie gras. It takes place at the Espace Champerret, (Porte de Champerret, 17th) from October 17-20. For more info see www.salonsfermiers.com

* The Latest Hyped Parisian Nightclub *
French rock-star Johnny Hallyday just opened a new nightclub called l’Amnésia at the foot of the Tour Montparnasse. It’s not the most fashionable district of Paris, but everyone’s raving about the super-slick all-white décor and Mediterranean feel. But is this hip or hype? And will Johnny ever actually hang out there, or will it just be another red-carpet for French reality-TV personalities? If you can afford the €20 entry and €15 cocktails, go check it out and drop me an e-mail. Tuesdays are free for ladies, Wednesday is disco night, Thursday-Saturday are live DJs, and Sundays are the Gay Tea Dances (closed Monday). L’Amnésia Paris, Tour Maine-Montparnasse, 33 Avenue du Maine (15th) M° Montparnasse-Bienvenüe, 01 56 80 37 37.

* Books for Foodies *
Next time you’re in the Marais, make a detour up to a book shop and art gallery called “Food” at 58 Rue Charlot (in the 3rd). In case it’s not clear, this book store is dedicated to food: cookbooks, the history of gastronomy, nutrition guides, cuisine-based literature, coffee table books, and art expositions. There are also a few designer decorative objects for the kitchen. It’s set in a modern space inside a 17th-century hotel particulier, open Tues-Fri 11am-1pm, and Tues-Sat 2pm-7pm.

* Shopping for l’Amour *
The gourmet food market LafayetteGourmet (49 Boulevard Haussmann, 9th) is getting into the matchmaking game with a newly-launched Singles Night, every Thursday 6:30pm-9pm. Anyone in the market for a date gets a special shopping basket (with a little kissing couple picture on it) and goes ahead shopping “like normal”. It’s basically no different than regular shopping in France, except no one makes the mistake of trying to hit on someone who’s just there for the food. Those participating get their own special check-out lane and two-for-one drinks at the shop’s Bar Rouge. Check out the official website for more info, and if anyone actually tries it, let me know how it goes!

* October is for Chocolate Lovers *
Don’t miss the 8th annual Marché du Chocolat and Grand Prix du Meillure Chocolat Artisanal at the Bourse du Commerce (2 Rue de Viarmes, 1st) , October 18 from noon-7pm and October 19 from 10am-6pm. For more info call 04 42 85 18 20. If you’re still hungry for more, check out the more commercial-oriented (yet equally yummy) Salon du Chocolat (Oct 29-Nov 2) at the Carrousel du Louvre, www.chocoland.com.

* Planning Ahead for November *

Oct 27-Nov 2: BNP ParibasTennis Master Series at POPB Paris-Bercy

Nov 4: Mariah Carey in concert at the POPB Paris-Barcy

Nov 11: Armistice Day (French Holiday)

Nov 13: Bob Dylan in concert at the Zénith

Nov 13-16: Paris Photo, the international fair of 19th-century, modern and contemporary photography, at the Carrousel du Louvre.

Nov 14-16: Lalique Ice Skating Championships at POPB Paris-Bercy

Nov 17: Radiohead in concert at POPB Paris-Bercy

Nov 22: Craig David in concert at the Zénith

Nov 28: Marilyn Manson in concert at POPB Paris-Bercy

Nov 30: Elton John in concert at the Olympia.

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