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Newsletter #59: April 2005

Paris door

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter #59: April 26, 2005***


The alternative Paris newsletter of restaurant reviews, shopping tips, upcoming events, the latest night spots, and hotel recommendations, by local travel writer, Heather Stimmler-Hall.

* From the Editor
* Discounts for Me and My Neighbors
* Cheap Mobile Phone Service
* French Parody of Bridget Jones
* The Catacombs and Cernuschi Museum Reopen
* Paris Concerts
* Virtual Tour in English of the Hôtel de Ville
* Lou Bar Closed
* Carwash at the WAGG
* Hot Chocolate Hole in the Wall
* Dinner at Allard
* Latest Foodie Guide
* Designer Outlet in Paris
* Save a Life, Donate Blood
* Writing Seminar

* From the Editor *
Hey! Two newsletters in one month! What can I say? The sunshine is getting me out of bed earlier than usual, and the rain is keeping me from spending too much time smelling the flowers. ๐Ÿ˜‰ – Heather

* Discounts for Me and My Neighbors *
Théâtre de la Cité at the Cité Universitaire (14th) offers residents of the 13th and 14th arrondissements tickets to dance performances for €12.50 instead of €21! For more info check out: http://www.theatredelacite.com

* Cheap Mobile Phone Service *
Keep your eyes peeled for the new mobile phone service, Ozone, which works with WiFi, gives you unlimited calls to land lines within their range (so far the 5th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th, and 20th, and in any WiFi zone) for €9/month (subscription) or €12/month (without subscription). For info visit http://www.ozoneparis.net

* French Parody of Bridget Jones *
Le Journal d’Elsa Linux is coming out in May, and judging what she’s already written on her blog, it should be hilarious. Improve your French vocabulary and check it out at http://www.elsalinux.com (and remember, it’s a spoof, duh!)

* The Catacombs and Cernuschi Museum Reopen *
After several months of renovations, the Catacombs are reopening this spring along with two galleries that were closed to the public for the last decade. Want to see some creepy skulls and dark tunnels? Give it a go, but don’t forget to wear shoes you don’t mind getting mucky! http://www.paris.fr/musees/Musee_Carnavalet/Default.htm

The Musée des Arts de l’Asie (Musée Cernushi) is reopening June 17 after three years of renovations. The collections highlight the evolution of Chinese arts in the former home of the collector Henri Cernuschi. http://www.paris.fr/musees/Cernuschi/default.htm

* Paris Concerts *
There’s always so much going on in Paris, sometimes it’s very easy to not even hear about a concert that, in any smaller city, would be a major event. So besides the Pariscope, Zurban, and the posters around town, how do you know what’s going on? Music lovers should visit Mosaïco Diffusion (http://www.mosaicodiffusion.com), which sells tickets to all types of musical concerts on a very easy to navigate site (easier than Fnac, anyway, sheesh!). Just a peek at the upcoming Jazz/Blues/Funk concerts listed: Kool & the Gang (at l’Olympia), Oscar Peterson (at the Palais de Congrès), George Benson (at Le Grand Rex), Al Green (at l’Olympia), and Sonny Rollins (at l’Olympia). Best of all, you can read the page in English, French or Spanish. Check it out…

* The Latest from the Mayor’s Hôtel de Ville *
The Mairie de Paris (Town Hall) web site now has a virtual tour in English (well, a woman speaking in French but with English subtitles and captions) that shows images of the beautiful interior, and explains the interesting history of the building and its importance to Parisians. http://streaming.paris.fr/visite_virtuelle/html/en/debit_en.html

Don’t forget you can also see where all of the open markets in Paris are located on the Mairie’s English homepage (icon on the bottom right): http://www.paris.fr/EN/Living/markets/default.ASP

AND….the listing of the officially smoke-free restaurants in Paris: http://www.paris.fr/fr/solidarites/actualites/label_sans_tabac/

* Lou Bar Closed *
The Lou Bar, one of the city’s only two S&M bars, closed in April. That’s a bummer because they had these cool “Introduction to S&M” nights for beginners, and even had someone who gave tours of the dungeon in English. Supposedly the former owner will be opening a “bigger and more beautiful” bar/club in the near future. In the mean time, where to find info for fetish clubs in Paris? Try the “Paris Sexy Guide” by Musardine Editions, in French but you’ll figure it out. ๐Ÿ˜‰ http://www.lamusardine.com

* Carwash at the WAGG *
In an ongoing quest to keep track of what’s going on after dark in the city, I asked a good friend (and former London dance club animal) to report back on status of the famous UK Carwash soirée at the WAGG (below the Alcazar, 62 rue Mazarine, 6th). His report? “Hardly anyone else dressed up; the sound system is lacking but the music is still good; the crowd was about 25-35. Entrance is €15 (drink included) and after that drinks €9.” http://www.wagg.fr

* Hot Chocolate Hole in the Wall *
Chocolate Guru David showed me a great little Viennese pastry shop and café a few meters from the Starbucks at Odéon, called (of course) Patisserie Viennoise (8, rue de l’Ecole Medecine, 6th, Tel: Squeeze into the tiny room in the back and enjoy apple strudel, lemon meringue tart, and some excellent hot chocolate — with or without whipped cream – and in size small or large. The tearoom serves food at lunch, so try coming after 2pm or call to reserve a place in the tiny room. There are prettier places, more historic places, more chic and comfortable places, but, gosh darn it’s hard to find quality products for a reasonable price these days! (PS and be careful you don’t get run over by the kamikaze busses flying down this narrow street!)

* Dinner at Allard *
I tested the restaurant Allard (41 rue St-André-des-Arts, 6th) last week because it’s in all of the guidebooks and I figured I should find out what the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was that great for the price. Even with a reservation we had to wait, which itself isn’t a big deal but the only place to stand was right between the door and the kitchen, so either we were getting smacked by the door opening or getting run over by waiters with food. The dining room was crowded, people crammed in tightly, and about 90% of them were speaking English. Loudly (granted, that’s not the restaurant’s fault, but annoying nonetheless). We ordered escargots, oysters, and for the main dish split a Bresse chicken with mushrooms. The snails were ‘correct’ as the French would say, but the oysters were on a bed of ice; I prefer them a bit less chilled. Excellent bread, a nice bottle of wine (that we took on the kind waiter’s suggestion), and the chicken was fine. But that was the problem. Everything was fine, but not great (except the service, which was nicely attentive). For €150, I think I’ve had better experiences, though. Sorry Allard!

* Latest Foodie Guide *
So where does one look for good dining out advice? Fresh out on the newsstands is the Zurban Restos & Bistros Guide 2005-2006, with 400 addresses by district. I usually agree with the Zurban’s recommendations, even if it seems that all of them are on the other side of town from me in their weekly magazine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In French, at any news kiosk.

* Designer Outlet in Paris *
Outlets in Paris tend to either be little boutiques with one brand only, or huge malls outside of town that you need a train to get to, like Troyes or La Vallée. But now there’s the Espace Seine, a big warehouse near Gare d’Austerlitz (32 quai d’Austerlitz, 13th) that sells a different designer collection (usually 1-2 seasons old) every two weeks. Brands include Stella McCartney, Prada, Guci, Helmut Lang, Smalto, Morgan, JP Gaultier, etc. Keep in mind that these are not bins of clothing for €10, but more like €1200 dresses and suites for €400. http://www.espaceseine.com/

* Save a Life, Donate Blood *
The Ile-de-France needs 1500 donors per *day* to keep the blood banks stocked. If you’re up to donating yours, there will be a mobile unit at the Jardin des Plantes (5th) from April 27-30 in the afternoon. For more info visit http://www.dondusang.net

* Writing Seminar *
A new novel session by Jennifer K Dick begins May 18th and runs for 6 weeks, from 7-9pm near Opera metro. The course will again be very limited to a group of 5-7 to be able to delve deeply into the stories, nonfiction and novel chapters being written. This is a course designed for people who already have work ready to workshop and who are trying to get a sense of a reader’s perception, to work out problems the piece may have or who need a sounding board regarding plot, character development, scene/summary or other issues. Cost: €115 for the 6 week session. If you are interested, please confirm by email within the next week (by May 2nd), tel 01 40 27 99 80 or email Fragment78@aol.com

* 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: /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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