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Newsletter #93: August 2009

vintage Paris photo


* From Heather’s Desk
* Changes at Secrets of Paris
* Discount Supermarkets
* French Driving License Tip
* Paris Métro Line 1 Automation
* Art Home Dining & Tours
* The Opéra Garnier Boutique & Restaurant
* My Current Favorite Restaurant: Frenchie
* French Fooding for Seattleites
* Ducasse Cooking School in Paris
* Free Music in France: Spotify
* RATP Ticket Changes
* Secure Bike Lockers at RER Station
* Parisian Shopping Addicts Site
* Secrets of Paris Blog & Calendar

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From Heather’s Desk

For those of you who get the Secrets of Paris RSS feed (or peeked at the blog yesterday), you may have seen the “August Newsletter” and wondered what I was smoking. Sorry about that, I accidentally “published” the rough draft! So now you can see the difference between the “before” and “after”, lol! Today is the hottest day of the summer so far, a perfect excuse to hide in my cook and dark apartment typing away all day (but honestly, by the time you read this I’ll be at the pool up the road with the rest of the Parisians). This has been the sunniest August since the deadly heatwave in 2003, so I hope you all have had the chance to enjoy Paris Plage, the open-air cinema and the many open-air concerts around Paris. – Bises, Heather

Changes at Secrets of Paris

The biggest news is the new look of Secrets of Paris website. Those of you who have been around since the start 10 years ago will…

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  • Another license tip – if you already have a license from another country but can’t exchange, you’re not required to do the 20 hours of "conduite accompagnée" (which is where the majority of the cost comes from). When I got my license, I enrolled in a driving school, did the practice tests there and then they signed me up for the written & practical exams. I also did one hour with a driving instructor just to make sure I wasn’t making any major mistakes. The whole thing cost me almost exactly 300€ – still a lot more than in the US, but it’s certainly better than 1500€!A friend of mine is even bypassing the auto-école – she bought a practice DVD to do at home and then went to the préfecture to sign up as a "candidat libre". It’s taken her a lot more time and effort on her part to do it alone, but it will cost her even less than what it cost me.And regarding the actual exam itself – each driving center holds at least one session per month for foreigners. Which means that during the written test, you’re given 4-5 minutes to answer each question instead of the standard 30 seconds. You are also allowed to bring in a translator to translate the questions for you (though this person has to come from the préfecture’s pre-approved list – you can’t just bring in your spouse or a friend).