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Newsletter #70: May 2006

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*** Secrets of Paris Newsletter #70: May 28, 2006 ***


* From the Home Office
* Check out the Calendar
* History: 112 Gripes About the French… from 1945!
* Entertainment: Paris Cinema News
* Practical: Free Customer Service Hotline!!
* Sightseeing: Renovations at La Mosquée
* Shopping: French Music for a Good Cause
* Shopping: Olive Oil and More
* Dining: A view of the Eiffel Tower
* Get Pampered at l’Appartement 217
* What’s Up on the Website?
* Are you on the list?
* STILL Want to Change Your Subscription Address? Read this…

* From the Home Office *

I just got back earlier this week from New York with a cold and a ton of e-mails to sift through, but have been determined to get something out for Memorial Day. Without the usual sales, tailgate parties or three-day weekend to distract me from the actual reason for the holiday, I have to admit that I get all sentimental on Memorial Day, and make it a point to visit a few of the many American memorials around Paris. Last month I took a visiting couple to the American Military Cemetery in Suresnes, when the trees were still bare. We were looking at the guest book, which makes it clear that a majority of the visitors are not American, but French. Their comments make it immediately clear that they are not "ungrateful". The woman in the visitors’ office asked if we’d like to see the original guest books, dating back to the years just after WWI, when the cemetery was inaugurated. Many of the first visitors were the American GIs who had come to bury their fellow soldiers. Their comments are heartbreaking. “We fought here so that our children and our grandchildren can live in peace.” This month’s newsletter is a short one. Enjoy a safe and relaxing weekend. – Heather

* Check out the Calendar *

Don’t forget to see the updated calendar of events for outdoor events, concerts, flea markets, writing classes, Memorial Day services at the American Cemetery, and some summer festivals…mostly random things that aren’t advertised to visitors (ie don’t bother looking for news of the latest Louvre exhibition). The calendar is updated on a somewhat sporadic schedule…so stop by often! www.secretsofparis.com/paris-calendar/

* History: 112 Gripes About the French… from 1945! *

A friend sent me this link to a cartoon booklet published by the ‘Information & Education Division’ of the US Occupation Forces in 1945. It was created to counter some of the “bad feelings” between the French and the American forces stationed in Europe by clearing up many of the misconceptions and myths…many which still last today! As the publishers note, “This booklet may not convince those who are hopelessly prejudiced, but it may help to keep others from being infected by the same lamentable virus.” An interesting read, in any case for Memorial Day Weekend: http://www.e-rcps.com/gripes/

* Entertainment: Paris Cinema News *

Paris has more films showing at any one time than any city in the world, so whether you want to see Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” at the UGC Ciné Cité or cinema classics like “Rebel Without a Cause” at one of the many indie theatres, you’re spoilt for choice. Of course, it can also be confusing trying to avoid lines and find the best rates (no one wants to pay €9.50, after all). Just a few tips:

-You can pre-pay your tickets for UGC theatres (like Les Halles) online, with a €0.75 fee added to the ticket price. You still have to pick up the tickets on arrival; swipe the credit card you used at one of the little pre-paid kiosks (they look like cash machines) and your tickets pop out. A good idea if you’re going out on Wednesday night or weekends and want to avoid the lines. Note: hese are general admission tickets; you can’t choose a seat ahead of time in France. www.ugc.fr

– You can also reserve tickets for other theatres through www.allocine.com (which is a great general site for films in general) at a fee of €0.75 – €1.00. You still need to bring your credit card to the theatre to pick up the tickets, but instead of going to the automated machine, you have to go to the ticket window with everyone else. So this is really only handy if you’re worried a particular film may be sold out.

– Many theatres have half-price discounts for matinees. Unlike the US (where a matinee is often anytime before 5pm), in Paris it’s usually the films showing before 11am, and in some cases *only* the first film of the day (as early as 9am). Some theatres also have discounts on Wednesdays or Sundays, so it helps to shop around.

– A few theatres offer CinéResto specials, a flat rate which includes your meal in the theatre café and cinema entrance. For example, the Publicis Cinémas (at the Publicis Drugstore, 129 Ave des Champs-Elysées, 8th, www.publicisdrugstore.com) has a CinéResto formule for €20, which includes a starter, main dish, coffee and one movie ticket. Not bad for dinner and a movie (although don’t expect a gourmet meal). The MK2 Bibliothèque also has a CinéResto special. www.mk2.com

– For the best deals check out the many film festivals that take place throughout the year. The 4th annual Paris Cinéma festival takes place June 27 – July 11, with over 450 films in 20 theatres for just €4 each. There are also free open-air screenings at the Hôtel de Ville and in Luxembourg Gardens. Check out the schedule at the bilingual site: www.pariscinema.org If you’re a student and are available for the entire festival, sign up on the site to be a volunteer and see the films for free!

– Want to see some of the films from the Cannes Film Festival? Every year the films known as the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors’Fortnight, http://www.quinzaine-realisateurs.com) are shown in Paris immediately following the festival. See them at the Cinéma des Cinéasts (7 Ave de Clichy, 17th) from May 31 – June 6. For info see the Forum des Images website (www.forumdesimages.net).

* Practical: Free Customer Service Hotline!! *

For all of you residents of France who have pulled your hair out over the cost (usually €0.34/minute) of calling the customer “service” number of your Internet provider, there’s a beacon of light out there. Alice (www.aliceadsl.fr) is now offering free calls to its hotline. Not only that, the modem is included in the €29.99/month subscription rate. Now let’s all pray that the rest of the country’s businesses catch on!!

* Sightseeing: Renovations at La Mosquée *

The Grande Mosquée de Paris is still under renovations, but work in the central courtyard should be done by the end of June. Most visitors know the mosque’s beautiful tearoom and hammam, but there are also guided visits of the gardens and courtyards of the Moorish-style mosque, built in 1922 to honor the North Africans who died for France in WWI. Few guidebooks mention that the mosque was part of the Resistance during the Nazi occupation of WWII, providing refuge and false identity papers for over 1500 French Jews, mostly children. The public are admitted daily except Fridays, €3. The entrance is around the corner from the tearoom at the Place du Puits de l’Ermite, 5th. Tel 01-45-35-97-33.

* Shopping: French Music for a Good Cause *

The latest music compilation of Les Enfoirés is now available at FNAC (www.fnac.com). Les Enfoirés are well-known musicians in France who sing together to support the Restos du Coeur (charitable organization providing meals for the poor and homeless, http://www.restosducoeur.com). It’s a bit like Live Aid. The new 2-volume album is called “Le Village des Enfoirés 2006” and include the croonings of Tina Arena, Francis Cabrel, Patrick Bruel, MC Solaar, Garou, Karen Mulder (yes, the model), Zazie, Patrick Timsit (the actor), Julien Clerc, and a whole pile of Star Academy winners (Lori, Nolwenn, Jenifer…). It may not make it to the top of the charts, but each €22 album sold pays for 18 meals at the Restos du Coeur.

* Shopping: Olive Oil and More *

David Lebovitz (www.davidlebovitz.com) knows all of the good foodie places in Paris, and he just happens to live right next to an excellent “huilerie”, a boutique specializing in all kinds of oils. Of course there’s olive oil, as well as every kind of nut and seed oil, and oils you probably never heard of before. But no worries about trying to decide what to get. The friendly owner is not only happy to explain what each oil is for, where it comes from, how it should be used, et cetera, she also lets clients taste the different oils to really see the difference. Allicante: 26 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 11th, M° Bastille or Chemin Vert, tel 01 43 55 13 02, www.allicante-huilerie.com

* Dining: A View of the Eiffel Tower *

Can’t get a reservation for the Jules Verne or the Altitude 95 on the Eiffel Tower? Try the terrace of the Café de l’Homme, a stylish restaurant inside the Palais de Chaillot overlooking the Eiffel Tower from the Place du Trocadéro. It’s open noon until 2am (meaning your chances of getting a reservation at night are better if you don’t mind eating at midnight). The modern cuisine is excellent, with flavors from France, the Caribbean, Japan, and Spain. I had a chopped artichoke heart starter (€11) and an amazingly yummy glazed veal confit with spring veggies (€28). Light meals and afternoon tea are available 3pm-6pm. On Sundays there’s Continental breakfast à la carte from 11am, and hot brunch à la carte from noon until 2pm (the salads are €16-€20, omelets €15-€20). To reserve a table call 01 44 05 30 15 or visit the website, www.cafedelhomme.com.

* Get Pampered at l’Appartement 217 *

I had the most divine spa experience last month. A 90-minute facial with organic Dr. Hauschka products, including a hand, foot and head massage, by the very talented Mademoiselle Hanaë. The spa is located on 217 Rue St-Honoré (thus the name), just up the street from the Colette fashion-addict boutique. And…AND….it was only €85 (2.5-hour treatments are €143). That’s a steal in this town, book quick before they come to their senses! Tel 01 42 96 00 96.

* What’s Up on the Website? *

The Secrets of Paris website is slowly coming into shape. I’ve started adding the restaurant reviews, and will be working on the Pets in Paris section this week (any comments or info from pet owners in Paris are welcomed). Keep up with the changes by reading my blog (www.secretsofparis.com/heathers-secret-blog/) , which you can subscribe to as an RSS feed if you’re technically up-to-date. The latest Naughty Paris news can be found on the blog (http://naughtyparis.blogspirit.com/), which has been updated with a special Naughty New York entry. As usual, allof your feedback and comments on the new site are much appreciated!

* 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

* STILL Want to Change Your Subscription Address? Read this… *

This is an opt-in and opt-out newsletter managed by YourMailingListProvider.com ( www.YMLP.com ). If you want to change the address that this newsletter is sent to, then you need to click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the newsletter, the go to the subscription page /subscribe.htm to enter your new e-mail. I’m still getting emails from people asking me to do this for them. Or at least that’s what I hear, because it seems those emails get lost to the Spam Recycle Bin before I get a chance to do anything about it…. 😉

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