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Newsletter #57: February 2005

vintage Paris photo


  • From the Editor
  • Writing Events
  • Exclusive Rothschild Mansion Tours
  • Japanese-French-English Conversation
  • Good News and Bad News at La Poste
  • Django Reinhardt Jazz
  • Fashion Tours
  • Tourism Office Website
  • La Flèche d’Or Returns?
  • Dancing Queens
  • The Mosquée Hammam
  • RATP Olympic Tickets
  • Out with the old (Cinémathèque)
  • YMLP

From the Editor *

I didn’t think I’d get a newsletter out this month with so much going on. The good news is that I finally found a new apartment to rent: we’ve moved back to Paris! Woo hoo! No more disappearing at midnight like Cinderella, trying to catch the last train to the suburbs. In between packing and freelance work, I managed to fit one tour in this month with a French food aficionado from Texas (who didn’t complain about the Paris snow flurries and arctic wind as much as I did), a bit of nightlife research with my gal pals, a dinner/debate with Art Process, and the launch of Lisa Pasold’s poetry book, “Weave” at the IVY Bastille gallery/salon. Last night I attended a talk by (the very funny) Canadian author Margaret Atwood at the Abbey Bookshop and ran into Peter, a fellow writer and Secrets subscriber, who pointed out my lapse in Calendar updates (not that the event needed my help to draw a huge crowd). Now that I’m in Paris I can use all of that extra time I used to waste commuting (and shoveling snow off the car) to keep you all in the loop on a more regular basis! – Heather

* Writing Events *

Writer’s Tour of Paris: Word Sketching in the City of Lights
There are still spaces left for the week-long writing retreat in Paris run by writing coach Cynthia Morris (creator of Original Impulse) and yours truly (Paris know-it-all). Work on your writing, discover the hidden side of the City of Light, eat great food and make new friends! The dates are June 24th to July 1st, with early registration discounts. For more info visit the website.

Call for American Poets in Paris
Find a home for your poetry in the Café Review’s upcoming American Poets in Paris issue. We want to print the works of today’s Expats. We want to read about your experiences: good, bad, crazy, lusty, dreamy, meaty….The Cafe Review is a quarterly journal of poetry, art, reviews and interviews published four times a year in Portland, Maine.

1. Poets must be Americans with a substantive Parisian experience either current or in the past. Poems must have been written after or during the poet’s Paris experiences but they do not have to be about the expat experience. We are looking for work that has been filtered through the alembic of the Parisian experience.
2. Poems must be original and unpublished. If in French, the poet’s English translation must be included. Other languages cannot be considered.
3. Up to five poems may be submitted.
4. Submissions for this issue should be made at: americanpoetsinparis@thecafereview.com
5. Submission deadline is March 21, 2005
6. Please submit poems in the body of the email, not as an attachment, if possible.
7. We are accepting email submissions, and waiving our $1 reading fee, for this issue only.
8. A short bio, including the poet’s Parisian experiences, must be included.
9. Poets will be notified of acceptance by email & payment will consist of two contributor’s copies.
10. Please communicate with us at: americanpoetsinparis@thecafereview.com
11. If you need a local Paris contact, email heatherinparis@hotmail.com or use submission email address with “heather” in the subject line.
To find out more about The Cafe Review ask for us at stores like Shakespeare & Co. or visit us at: www.thecafereview.com

Exclusive Rothschild Mansion Tours *

Paris Muse (www.parismuse.com) now has privileged access to the Salomon de Rothschild Mansion and its 19th-century “cabinets de curiosités”, also known as wunderkammen, or cabinets of wonder, where noble collectors arranged their most precious objects in these cabinets for delectation and display. The 90-minute tours cost €75 per person. For more info contact Ellen McBreen at, or look on their website.

Japanese-French-English Conversation *

The friendly French – English conversation group, Tea Time = Talk Time, now hosts a Japanese – French – English conversation group, “Ochakai” every 1st Tuesday and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6:30pm-8:30pm. For information contact Yoko or Michael at 06 20 87 76 69 or e-mail konichiwa @muszlak.com

Good News and Bad News at La Poste *

The French postal service, La Poste, has issued some lovely new stamps this month, including a Marianne/Croix Rouge “Solidarité Asie” stamp for €0.70, of which €0.20 goes to help the Red Cross efforts in Asia. The Marianne stamps have received a facelift, and now have a pretty flower motif. There’s also a heart-shaped stamp designed by Cacharel that was issued for Valentine’s Day, but you can use them all year long because they’re in the new postage rate, €0.53 (ah yes, the bad news), the price for domestic postage starting March 1st. Hint: if you’re in Paris, buy the generic Marianne stamps or pre-stamped envelopes NOW, and they will still be valid after March 1. You can look at all of the lovely stamps – and even order online.

Django Reinhardt Jazz *

A few Sundays ago (boy they go fast) I met up with Ric from Metropole Paris and a few fellow club members – Dennis, Gary (sorry I keep calling you Greg!) and James – for some live jazz at La Chope des Puces (122, rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen), towards the back of the Marché aux Puces at Clignancourt. Every Sunday it’s packed full with jazz fans who come to listen to Django Reinhardt songs. There’s probably only room for about twenty people in there (more if you sit in the back room for lunch), and by the time I got there at 2pm I had to squeeze in. An excellent way to pass the Sunday afternoon.

Fashion Tours *

Last month I got to attend Stéphane Mahéas’ catwalk shows for the Spring/Summer 2005 couture collections with fellow writer pals Carolyn and Lisa. It was one of the first really cold days in January, so we were all very happy to imagine the weather where we could wear those gorgeous, spring dresses! It’s a rare thing to be able to see couture shows unless you’re a buyer (got five digits of cash lying around?) or the editor of a fashion magazine. But if you’re very keen, anyway, then it helps to know the right people, like Jacqueline Sablayrolles, founder of La Mode-Le Club. She gives private fashion tours of Paris, including make-overs with top stylists and hair/make-up artists, shopping in the clothing boutiques where real Parisians shop, and, of course, private couture shows. For more information visit her website.

* Tourism Office Website *

The Paris tourism office not only recently opened its new main branch on Rue des Pyramides, they also changed their website address (again). So, forget http://www.parisbienvenue.com or http://www.paris-touristoffice.com. It’s now http://www.parisinfo.com. So does that mean the site is improved? Does it mean it’s more user-friendly, informative, practical? I wouldn’t know. I got so angry after trying to find two simple things that I gave up and left. But hey, it looks kinda purty!

* La Flèche d’Or Returns? *

Just when we all thought the ol’ Fleche d’Or Café (102, bis rue Bagnolet, 20th) was gone for good, seems that the people at La Perla (bar on rue Fracois Miron, 4th) have bought it and reopened with a “bal-musette” theme. I’ll let y’all know when I get a chance to wander up there and check it out. The Glaz’art (7/15 avenue de la Porte de la Villette, 19th) also still seems to be going despite continuing money problems. East Paris isn’t dead after all…

Dancing Queens *

I’ve been updating the Nightlife section of Fodor’s Paris guide this month, and luckily I’ve got a lot of guinea pigs, er, friends who like staying up all night. Carolyn and I visited the Bubar (3 rue de Tournelles, 4th), a cozy little neighborhood bar around the corner from the Place des Vosges with great wines by the bottle and low lighting that makes us look fabu even after midnight. We also found the Politburo (25 rue du Roi de Sicile, 4th) thanks to a couple of eagle-eyed friends, which has some funky art on the walls, a very eclectic 80s new-wave musical theme, and interesting staff. But when we tried finding a bar open after 2am in the Bastille district (most are clubs) we ended up at Falstaff, a pizza and beer joint right on the Place de la Bastille. They *did* have some excellent Irish Coffee (€8 each), but we should have stopped after the first round (in our defense, it was Carolyn’s birthday).

Last weekend I had friends, Holly and Amy, visiting from Minneapolis and staying in the Grands Boulevards district, so we went to the Rex Club (5 bd Poissonière, 2nd). The crowd was very enthusiastic, casually dressed, and on average about 22 years old (supposedly Friday night attracts a younger crowd). When the DJ slowed down we met up with Carolyn and Jen, another Paris writer, down the street at Le Pulp (25 bd Poissonière, 2nd), a laid-back lesbian club playing some of the best dance music for anyone in their 30s (Blondie, Nirvana, B-52s, Madness, Muse, Prince, etc.), so we stayed until the metro started running again at 6am. On Monday night Amy and Holly went to the Queen’s mixed disco night and found it packed with jeans and sneakers wearing college-age kids. “Great music, no room to dance” was the verdict. More to come next month!

The Mosquée Hammam *

To detox from the smoky nightclubs and escape the freezing Paris temperatures, Amy, Holly and I spent a late Saturday evening at the steam baths (hammam) at the Paris Mosque in the 5th (across from the Jardin des Plantes on 39 Rue Geoffroy St-Hilaire; look for the Arabic turret). For €38 you get entrance into the steam rooms (each progressively hotter than the last), a ten-minute exfoliating “gommage” by some very enthusiastic Tunisian women, ten-minute oil massage, and a glass of mint tea. The changing rooms are so narrow you can’t sit (lockers are €1; hair dryers another €1); bring your own towel or rent one for €4. Flip-flops are required or you can use the communal ones in the basket by the front desk. It helps to bring some soap and shampoo to wash off in the shower before getting dressed. Bikini bottoms are required; some ladies wear tops, too, but they get in the way during the very public body treatments (no room for modesty here). In general, a gorgeous venue modeled after the Alhambra in Spain, but don’t expect a quiet “spa” experience. It’s much more fun with a pile of chatty friends! Call for a recording with the hours and days for men and women: 01 43 31 18 14

RATP Olympic Tickets *

For a limited time only (through March 31), the RATP is selling single metro/bus/tram tickets stamped with the Paris 2012 Olympic Candidate logo to help promote the city’s chance of hosting the big event in 2012. They’re still just €1.40, much more expensive than buying in a “carnet of ten for €10.50, but consider it a souvenir.

Out with the old (Cinémathèque) *

La Cinématheque Française will close its Palais Chaillot and Grands Boulevards addresses next week to reopen in the fall in the renovated Frank Gehry building overlooking the Parc de Bercy (12th), with 4 projection rooms and 18000m² of exhibition space. It seems the project has been on hold for years, but now it’s really happening. It will be nice to see the Gehry building, originally designed for the bankrupt American Center, coming back to life. Read more about the exciting news on their website.

* Are you on the list? *

If you’ve been getting this newsletter forwarded from a friend, please consider subscribing yourself. It’s free, and all you have to do is enter your e-mail address in the box at: http://www.secretsofparis.com/subscribe.htm. The benefit? You’ll get your own copy sent directly to your inbox every month, and I’ll have a better idea of how many of you are actually reading. Thanks! –Heather

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