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Newsletter #58: April 2005



  • From the Editor
  • Calling all Writers
  • French Manners for Kids
  • The French Open for Just €15
  • Word of Warning
  • Franco-American Acting Classes
  • The Ultimate French Lingerie
  • Spring and Summer Tours
  • A new free English Paris magazine
  • Chauffeured Tours of Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley
  • Have you read my book?
  • Sad News

* From the Editor *

Hey, where’d March go? I really did mean to get the newsletter out last month, but alas, the tour season has started, keeping me busier than usual, and being back in the center of Paris makes it so easy to just pop out for dinner or a quick drink with friends that quickly turns into marathon bar-hopping sessions! So I needed a vacation from all the fun and ran off to the Netherlands for a week of blissful relaxation, where the beer is cheap, the people are friendly, and everyone speaks perfect English (and daydreams of a Secrets of Holland newsletter lurking in my brain). Back in Paris, spring has definitely sprung after a snowy March, with colorful tulips in the parks, little green leaves on all of the trees, and couples smooching on every corner. *Sigh* Lots going on the rest of April and May, so keep checking up on the calendar, and do feel free to give me a virtual (friendly) poke when I’m behind! – Heather

* Calling all Writers! *

There are still spaces left for the week-long writing retreat in Paris “Writer’s Tour of Paris: Word Sketching in the City of Lights”, 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, and we’re going to have an awesome rockin’ time! For more info visit: http://www.originalimpulse.com/writersparis.shtml

If you live in Paris consider signing up for the Creative Writing Workshop at Shakespeare and Co, an 8-week workshop beginning Wednesday, April 27 from 7 to 9pm
Beginners welcome! Cost: 25 euros for the 8-week session. To register or for information contact Janet Skeslien Charles at or parisianwritingworkshop@yahoo.com

The Cafe Review is extending the deadline until JUNE 15, 2005, for its “American Poets In Paris” issue. They are seeking poems from American poets who have or are living and working in Paris–although the poems do not need to be about Paris. The Cafe Review is a quarterly journal of poetry, art, reviews and interviews published four times a year in Portland, Maine. They’ve done several previous internationally themed issues and expect the American Poets in Paris issue to come out in the fall of 2005. Check out their website at http://www.thecafereview.com for more details and submission information.

Some upcoming readings:

April 18th at 8pm, the Live Poets Society with Michelle Noteboom, James Emanuel and Sean Street at the Highlander Pub (8 rue de Nevers, 6th), 4 euros at the door.

April19th at 7pm, an Upstairs at Duroc reading at WICE (20 blvd du Montparnasse, 15th) in conjunction with Cecilia Woloch’s Paris Poetry Workshop. Featuring work by Heather Hartley, Marcia Lebre, Patrick Williamson, Cecilia Woloch.

April 20th at 6:30pm at Le Caveau des Oubliettes (52 rue Galande, 5th). Poets reading from their work that evening are Jennifer K. Dick, Ellen Hinsey, Lisa Pasold, and Kathleen Spivack. Hosted by Cecilia Woloch.

April 20th at 7:30pm at Shakespeare & Co.(Rue de la Bucherie, 5th) a reading by the students of Janet Skeslien Charles’ Spring Writer’s Workshop.

More readings and writers’ events can be found in the Secrets of Paris Calendar.

* French Manners for Kids *

Have you moved to Paris with your kids and worry that maybe they won’t know the different rules and etiquette for children in France? Sign them up for classes at Minding Matters, a sort of cross-cultural finishing school in English to help the tots as young as age 4 up to high school students, college kids, and even tea service etiquette for adults. Test your own knowledge of French etiquette with their online quiz. http://www.mindingmanners.com/

* The French Open for Just €15 *

Okay, that was mean. You don’t really get to see the French Open, but you get to visit the place where it all happens! The Roland-Garros Stadium opened its Tenniseum (Tennis Museum) in 2003, with an interactive multimedia history of the sport and guided tours in English (or Frenglish, mostly) of the stadium, the press rooms, the players’ lockers, and even the main court itself. I had an ex-pro tennis player on tour from the US who loved it. He even got to take a bit of the famous red clay home with him (um…we didn’t use a doggie bag to steal it right off the court, I swear) and some souvenir balls from the gift shop. http://www.fft.fr/rolandgarros/fr/

* Word of Warning *

A very nice American couple staying in Paris for a conference had a wonderful time during their stay despite some not-so-nice surprises. First their taxi ride to their hotel (one of the classic luxury hotels, very well-known) took them in a sightseeing loop around the city. They were so happy that the driver enthusiastically pointed out all of the monuments for them that they even tipped him, and only figured out later looking at their map that they had seen monuments nowhere near the route to the airport. In their jet-lagged state they had a Coke at a tiny French café and paid €8.50 for it. And not even on the terrace! The first instance is, sadly, almost impossible to prevent unless you’ve got specific directions printed out from the airport to your hotel (you can do this on mappy.fr and hand it to the driver). The second, though, I still find hard to believe, even though they had a receipt and it said Coke, €8.50. Paris is expensive, but not that bad. Only at the ritzier hotel bars and clubs would you pay that much. But do keep in mind Coke is an import here, and always have a peek at the price (or ask, even when ordering wine) to avoid surprises.

* Franco-American Acting Classes *

Anyone interested in taking acting classes in Paris should check out FACT (Franco-American Association of Cinema & Theatre), a professional training center for actors and directors based in Paris with workshops in New York. They’re also an acting company (The Compagnie Paris New York) which has presented contemporary and new plays in Paris and regionally in France. Their goal is to “foster cultural exchange in the performing arts on a human level through professional acting training, research and performance, in French and in English, that encourages a sense of community among artists of diverse ethnicities and cultural traditions.” See their website for the listings of ongoing classes and intensive workshops. http://factinfo.free.fr

* The Ultimate French Lingerie *

Gentry Lane, the fabulously Parisienne transplant from San Francisco, has created a cult line of luxury lingerie line called Gentry de Paris, with glamorpuss silk and cashmere undies, camisoles and loungewear that would suit anyone looking to feel like a “wanton Parisian seductress or a classic Hollywood siren”. Of course, quality like this doesn’t come cheap, so start saving your euros and sign up for her newsletter so you don’t miss the sales! http://www.gentrydeparis.com

* Spring and Summer Tours *

Would you like to join me on a private guided tour of Paris for your spring or summer vacation? Be sure to sign up as far in advanced as possible, since May and June fill quickly! Tours are custom-designed for each client, but I have itineraries for garden tours, off-the-beaten-path tours, shopping-on-a budget, American Patriots tour, Paris by Boat, Ethnic Paris Excursions, and foodie tours. I also have a network of locals who can do wine tastings, cooking classes, chocolate tours, nightlife tours, and haute-couture tours. If you like what you read in the Secrets of Paris, you’ll love the tours! E-mail me for more details: heather@secretsofparis.com

* A new free English Paris magazine *

Last night I attended the launch party of Gogo, a free monthly magazine in English with all the latest goings on’s around town. Run by the crack team that used to write the Time Out magazine in Paris before their local office closed, Gogo is an opinionated, stylish, and very hip publication that doesn’t resemble your average tourist magazine. Of course, if you’re not into fashion, art galleries and DJ music, then it may not be your cup of tea. Sometimes it’s nice when a magazine doesn’t try to be everything for everyone. Keep your eyes peeled for at least two other English-language publications due to launch in the wake of the demise of Pariscope’s English pages…http://www.gogoparis.com

* Chauffeured Tours of Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley *

Many travelers to Paris ask me about chauffeured tours of the city. While essentially a town that’s best seen on foot, having a car and driver can also save you time getting around, ease the frustrations of navigating a new city, and let you get away with wearing gorgeous-but-unpractical footwear. The driver can drop you off in a place where you want to walk around and meet you after lunch, or carry your shopping bags. Of course, you might also need one for a day trip to Normandy, Loire Valley, Champagne region, etc. Last month I had a lovely American family on tour with me and wanted to show them the American Military Cemetery and Memorial in Suresnes. It’s only five miles west of Paris, but the public transportation links there are tedious, so we tested out Elite Limousine for the afternoon and it really made for a nice excursion – the driver Antoine picked us up at the restaurant where we ate lunch in a luxury minivan, then drove up to the cemetery and waited while we had a tour, then took us to a WWI memorial for American fighter pilots called the Escadrille Lafayette. He spoke perfect English and let one of the family members practice her French on the way back into Paris. Highly recommended for a hassle-free trip! http://www.elitelimousines.com

* Have you read my book? *

Thanks to everyone who has sent in their feedback on my “Adventure Guide to Paris & Ile-de-France”. I’ll be sending the corrections to the publishers for second printing, so do let me know if you’ve found any errors or changes in info that aren’t listed on my Updates & Corrections page (thanks Jeff for the news of yet another closed – razed! – squat). Also, if you liked the guidebook (!), please let the world know by writing a review at Amazon.com (or Amazon.co.uk for all of you Brits). Summer season is coming and it would be great to get the word out! Thanks again for all of your support. ?

* Sad News *

Early this morning at about 2:20am a horrible fire broke out in a residence hotel (used by the city as temporary housing for immigrant families) near the Galeries Lafayette department store, killing ten adults and ten children, and seriously injuring 55 others. It’s the deadliest fire in the past twenty years in Paris, taking 57 fire trucks and about 250 firefighters almost an hour to put it out. So far authorities believe it was an accident.

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