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Newsletter #7: April 2001

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter 7: April 11, 2001***

* From the Home Office *
I’ve been caught in my treachery. One of the sharper Secrets of Paris readers has discovered that I don’t live anywhere near Paris. It’s true, I’ve been living in Antibes on the French Riviera since last August, while Mr. Hall is here studying for his MBA. I get up to Paris every few months, and I’ll be up in two weeks to see my friend’s new baby girl. Does this affect my reporting skills? You betcha! If I were in Paris right now, I’d be cold, wet, and too grumpy to tell y’all about why Paris is such a great place. From the sunny Riviera I can get all nostalgic and envious as I read about the latest restaurant opening near my old neighborhood. Best of all, I can experience Paris as it was meant to be experienced: as a tourist. As penance for misleading my loyal readers, I’ll gladly answer any questions you send in about the Riviera (just don’t ask me if you should come in August, because you shouldn’t). Until next issue, à bientôt! -H

* Getting Around Doesn’t Have to be a Pain in the Baguette *
Mappy is my new favorite web site. Ever since I graduated from pedestrian to car driver (never inside Paris), it’s been easier to get lost, miss street signs, and generally become frustrated by the winding and illogical French roads. No more! Mappy’s website is in seven languages, and creates a driving itinerary according to your specifications. Do you want the fastest route or one with no tolls? It tells you which exit to look for (naming all towns served by that exit), how much gas it will take according to your type of car, the distances in miles or kilometres, calculation of reimbursed expenses for business travelers, and cost in your choice of currency. It’s so consumer friendly I don’t believe it’s French. Mais oui, its run by France Telecom, and covers all of Europe. You can also get maps to print out, the weather, and all sorts of regional tourist info with map locations, such as open-air markets or sports stadiums. Really, once you try this out you’ll wonder how you lived without it:


* The Latest Events Delivered to You *
Looking for the latest markets, exhibitions, sporting events, trade shows or concerts? I can’t write them all down here, but you can get them sent to you direct. Get a personalized list of current events e-mailed to you, or consult them online at Via France. The site is in French and English (I think they’ve used an auto-translator), and covers most cities in France:


* Recommended Reading: Plan de Paris *
I’ve had the same map of Paris since I was a student. It’s a tiny paperback book called Plan de Paris; Rues, Metro, Autobus. I loan it to all of my friends and relatives when they’re in Paris, because it works. There’s four sections: color-coded maps of each arrondissement (the larger ones take up two pages), bus numbers and routes, useful info with addresses of post offices, churches, movie theatres, museums and monuments by arrondissement, and also a large section where each street in the city is listed with directions on how to find it (if you’ve ever been to Paris you know why this is important). It also has pull-out maps of the metro and bus routes. Make sure any map you buy has all of this. And please don’t, DO NOT, buy one of those maps that need to be unfolded, unless you also want to post a "Mug Me!" sign un your back. Get one that looks like a little book, and only look at it when you’re somewhere semi-protected, like a bus shelter or the comfort of a tiny café. And don’t forget, getting lost is the best way to see Paris. Leave the map at the hotel at least one day during your stay.

PS. We all learn in French class that ‘La Carte’ means map, but ‘Le Plan’ is used more often, and saves the confusion with ‘La Carte’ that means ‘menu’. (‘Le Menu’ means ‘daily special’, so don’t ask for it unless you already know you want the special of the day).

* Top French DJs *
Here are the top five places to catch an earful from the legendary French Touch DJs. Check listings at Citivox.com or the weekly Pariscope at newsstands for times and details:

Le Rex club
5, bd Bonne Nouvelle, 2nd arr.
(Near the Montorgueil Quarter)
Tel. 01 42 36 10 96

34, rue du Départ, 14th arr.
Tel. 01 42 79 94 53

La Mezzanine de l’Alcazar
62, rue Mazarine, 6th arr.
(Between St. Germain des Pres and St. Michel)
Tel. 01 53 10 19 99

Le Batofar
Quai François Mauriac, 13th Arr.
(On the Seine in the shadow of the Biblitheque Mitterand)
Tel. 01 56 29 10 00

La Fabrique
53, rue du Faubourg St Antoine, 11th arr.
(Near Bastille)
Tel. 01 43 07 67 07

* Practice Your French Online *
Scheduled daily chats in the Bonjour Paris chat room. Practice your French (different levels) and swap travel tips, don’t miss the articles from the seasoned expat journalists.
* Great Atmosphere Guaranteed *
If you have just a few days in Paris, or if you’re looking for somewhere different, drop by the Boca Chica Tapas Bar near the Bastille. It was huge about four years ago, and has managed to stay interesting and offer plenty to keep the demanding masses entertained. I like it especially because of the music (just try not to dance), the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and the warm, festive décor. The patio is bliss when it’s nice out, you won’t even realize you’re in the city. Tapas are served, of course, but go for the entertainment at night, since it’s not really the quiet place to read the paper or indulge in intimate conversation. Here’s an idea of some of the stuff going on: Happy Hour, 17ff sangria, Salsa Nights, magic shows, caricaturist, tarot card reader, live music, DJs and "all you can eat paella" (Sunday evening). Don’t forget to wear your dancing shoes.
Boca Chica
58, rue de Charonne, 11th arr. (metro Bastille)
Open every day 10:30am – 2am (until 5am Fridays and Saturdays).

* Le Bal des Salseros *
Think you’re a pretty good salsa dancer? Want to watch some of the best Salsa dancing in the city, and join in? Don’t miss Salsa 2001. Starting at 8:30 at night with salsa school student talent, Cuban dance troupes, female salsa stars, and salsa DJs until 5am. There’s also a raffle to win a trip to Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, and the West Indies. Friday, April 20, at the Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy.

* Secrets of Paris at Suite101.com Update *
I’ve switched to writing a monthly article at Suite101.com, so there’s no new article until next issue. But if you liked the latest article ‘Under the Weather in Paris’ (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/4820/63554), you may also find the Paris-Anglo.com ‘Learn French’ Pharmacy section helpful: http://paris-anglo.com/learnfrench/pharmacy.html.

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