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Newsletter #6: March 2001

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter 6: March 25, 2001***

* Brunch in the Jardin *
It seems almost unnatural that a café in the center of one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris would actually be affordable, but Pomone in the Tuileries is just that. Escape the crowds, the car exhaust fumes and the noisy sidewalk terraces. Enjoy a light lunch or evening snack under the green trees. Don’t forget the sunglasses and Sunday Times!
Pomone, Jardin des Tuileries, Metro Tuileries (Louvre exit). Cafe 10ff, sandwiches 30ff.

* They Finally Get It Right *
It’s nice to have prepared gourmet meals delivered to your house. It’s decadent to have someone iron your shirts and clean your windows. But time is the real luxury, what would you pay to have someone else stand in line with your papers at the Prefecture or the Post? ‘S Comme Services’ is a new website that, if it weren’t in French, I’d swear was an Anglophone creation. For Paris and suburbs, homes and businesses, you have a choice of food delivery, cleaning, dryclean/laundry, dog walking, and all sorts of bureaucratic formalities such as your car registration, residence permit, and picking up registered mail. Coming soon are other categories such as beauty, childcare, car care, and home maintenance & emergencies. Now that you know it exists, how could you pass it up?


* Soiree Rosbif! *
One of the best secrets of Paris is the affordability of the Eurostar to London. For less than the taxi fare to the airport, you and your pals can pop over to London’s Ministry of Sound or The Fridge for a bit of techno club hopping before returning to Paris. To get the special ‘Night Trip’ price of 290ff roundtrip, 2nd class, you have to leave after 4pm and return before 10am. Perfect for those who don’t plan on spending much time in a hotel! Other discounts for short stays. For example, during March there’s a ‘2 for 1’ deal where you and your pal can travel to London for 375ff each round trip for two days minimum. The official Eurostar Planet site is in French and lists the good shopping and clubbing addresses in London. Check with the SNCF counters in Paris for help in English, since these discounts aren’t publicly listed in English (sneaky, eh?):


* Looking for a Good Read? *
I’ve started a Recommended Reading List for all you Francophiles out there. Included so far are my favorites from over the years, including guidebooks to Paris, historical novels, a memoire, and a few humorous looks at contemporary France from an expat’s point of view. All but one are in English.


* Election Drama *
No chads here, but there’s still plenty of excitement as the Left takes control of Paris for the first time in 25 years. Read expat man-about-town Rick Erickson’s account of the news at his Mtropole Paris site (and it says February 19th on the date, but that’s a typo, it’s from March):


* Holidays coming! *
If you’re planning a trip to Paris in the Spring, don’t forget to take notice of the start of the French holidays. It all starts with the Easter weekend on the 15th April, followed by school holidays and then the May 1st ‘Worker’s Day’. On this holiday all of the union workers and organizations are out in full force parading around the streets of Paris. Don’t even think of trying to drive through town on this day. The rest of May is referred to as the silly season by some because there are so many holidays that there’s rarely a full week at the office. What does all of this mean for visitors? Expect huge traffic jams coming in and out of Paris as all of the road-raging Parisians escape to the countryside as fast as possible, then return as grumpily as possible. Stick to public transport and driving at dawn.

* April 27 to May 8: Foire de Paris! *
Don’t you dare miss this year’s Paris Fair! No, it’s not like the County Fair back home, there are no rides and most of the action takes place indoors, but what you’ll find is great shopping and entertainment. We bought our wedding wine and Champagne here at a huge discount direct from the vinter, and return each year for the regional foods and products. You get to wander from stand to stand testing the different wine vintages or cheese origins before buying. Needless to say, we had to come back the day after to decide on a wedding wine because we a bit too tipsy after just two hours. There’s plenty of live entertainment and if you understand French, free ‘classes’ and lectures throughout the week. Too many tourists pass up the Foire, but it’s worth the small entry fee, and we found the vendors from all over France to be refreshingly polite and even enthusiastic to share their products with us. Buy tickets ahead of time at a discount through the official website, FNAC, the Paris Tourism Office and Bon Marché (45ff instead of 60ff if you buy tickets before April 26):

Official Foire de Paris Site in French: http://www.foiredeparis.fr/
Paris Tourism Office Site in English: http://www.paris-touristoffice.com/cgi-bin/homeva.cgi?Frame=_service&Target=/va/otcp.html

* Veg Out in Paris *
I was a vegetarian the first year I lived in France, and with all the meat problems in Europe at the moment, I may go back! Despite what you may have heard, there are plenty of options for healthy vegetarian cuisine in Paris. The following link is a listing started in 1995 and regularly kept up to date. It’s worth visiting at least one, even if you’re not a vegetarian, especially if you harbor a fear of mystery meats with names you don’t understand.


* This Week’s Article at Suite101.com *
The awful cold I had while writing the last newsletter prompted me to pen this article about the good, the bad, and the nudity of French Pharmacies in ‘Under the Weather in Paris’:

Last Week: ‘French Music: C’est Pas Mal!’, get an earful of my opinions, and a few useful links to make your own decision. Long Live Serge!

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