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Newsletter #8: May 2001

vintage Paris photo

***Secrets of Paris Newsletter 8: May 4, 2001***

From the Home Office
If you’re paying attention at all, you may have noticed this issue is a bit en retard (late). But I have a good reason. I let it be known in the last issue that I don’t actually live in Paris anymore, but an hour’s flight away in the south of France. Well last week I actually got to go back to Paris and spend five days running around like a tourist with only five days to see everything – up at 7am, asleep at 3am, 5 rolls of film and a pocket full of metro ticket stubs. I had lots to do at the Bercy area, the Foire de Paris, and in the northern suburb of Levallois, – three places that couldn’t be further apart. Sometimes it’s hard for even those who know Paris to get everything done in a short period of time. There’s the bad weather, spoiling my photography plans, the metro ‘slowdown’ (at least it wasn’t a strike, but it took twice as long to get across town), and of course the unexpected sore feet that kept me at one cosy café until the store I needed to visit was closed. "There’s always next time," I remind myself. Let’s just hope that Air Liberté (who have a very affordable Paris-Nice flight) finds a buyer before they close down next month. I’ll keep you posted. Hope you enjoy this ‘fresh off the Parisian sidewalk’ report. Until next issue, à bientôt! -H

* Lofty Ideals *
The latest headlines in France concern the M6 ‘Real TV’ show Loft Story. Like its British Big Brother counterpart, there are 11 men and women locked up for six weeks. However it’s a couple that will win, ensuring some steamy action. Some viewers are already complaining that there’s not enough action (most of the ‘good bits’ are pay-per-view only on the satellite or internet site). However the cultural and moral watchdogs are appalled at the "trash TV" and the State broadcasting authority has warned M6 not to compromise human dignity, and to cut down on the scenes where alcohol and cigarettes are heavily used. The French may not be as decadent as we thought!
Official site in French: http://www.loftstory.com/
Latest English news update: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010503/re/life_france_television_dc_1.html

* Colette for the Masses *
It’s finally happened! Colette, the trendiest of the trend setting boutiques in Paris, has finally started selling its products online (not everything, mind you, but enough to matter). Some of the products look better in the minimalist setting of the Colette boutique, like objets d’art more than ordinary things (like the bottle of Kick Ass Hot Ketchup! Which can be purchased in any Arizona supermarket for less than the $10 Colette is charging). But there are quite a few exclusive items, including the new CD compilation called Colette No. 1, "an eclectic pop electro selection done by Michel Gaubert (our favourite catwalk sound designer) and Marie Branellec (Colette’s music selector)". Perfect music to listen to while rendering yourself dazzling for a night out on the town:

* Asian Bar *
Trusty sidekick Claire and I got talked into trying out the new Asian Bar and Restaurant (across from the George V Four Seasons, metro George V) on Friday night. It has a distinct Buddha Bar atmosphere when you enter, all dark and club-like, with the lounge bar upstairs and the restaurant down below. One of the young stunning Asian hostesses showed us to our table. The food was definitely "Asian", but no particular country stuck out. We had to ask where the Thai dishes were on the menu, then went with the Maki Sushi (big, yummy, worth every Franc). Unlike the Buddha Bar, people in the bar aren’t staring down on you while you eat (which is nice for those of us none too gifted with the chopsticks). But you get to watch your food being made since there’s only a low wall separating the kitchen from the diners. You can also buy incense on the way to the toilets (which incidentally only have Japanese symbols to indicate which is the little girls’ room and which is the little boys’ room), or on their website (part English, part French). In general, a nice, calm place to have afternoon tea or a low-lit dinner:

* Speaking of Sushi *
When’s the last time you made it over to the Grande Epicerie de Paris at the Bon Marché? Now that Marks & Spencer’s days are over, it may be the only place to find a wide array of British and American (and many other nationalities) specialties at a decent price. Until May 12 there’s a special even called "Le Wa-Fumi: Les Saveurs du Japon" highlighting the fusion of Japanese and French cuisine (not a bad combo, if you ask me). If you can’t make it for this event, then at least try it out for the wonderful selection, the feel of an outdoor marché (without the rain and doggie doo), and the very efficient check-out with paper bags (rare in Paris, AND they bag your food for you). If only they’d open one in Antibes…
Grande Epicerie de Paris, 38 rue de Sèvres, 7th arr., metro Sèvres-Babylone; open Mon-Sat 8:30am to 9pm.

* The Bercy Quarter *
If you’re wondering what’s been happening over at the Bercy quartier, look no further. I spent far too many hours wandering back and forth, testing out the crowds and the views on Friday morning, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. Here’s my $.02: Saturday night you may want to try the Club Med World in Bercy Village if it looks full (you can see through the glass walls), otherwise it’s best to cross the Seine for the Guingette Pirate or Batofar floating bar/clubs on the quai below the Bibliotheque Nationale. Then go on Sunday afternoon for brunch at the Frog at Bercy Village, lounge in the grass at the Parc de Bercy, and catch an early evening film at the sleek UGC Ciné Cité. The best part about this area of Paris is the Météor metro line 14, which is fast, clean, and has no driver (so it can’t go on strike). It stops on both sides of the Seine. For more about Bercy, the good and the bad, don’t miss next week’s Secrets of Paris article at Suite101.com (photos, too!):

* Last Month’s Secrets of Paris Article *
The latest article at Suite101.com is called Heavenly Scented City, which has tips on finding the latest in French perfumes and beauty products both in Paris and on the web:

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