I’ve got a few favorite French websites for all of you Anglophones who don’t fear the language and those of you who want to get some practice reading French. After all, there are new French sites popping up every day, and a lot of them bury the Anglophone competition (as if we could really compete on their turf). So go grab your dictionary or a French friend, and surfons-y!
The French do have a sense of humour! Even if you don’t understand the language or the politics, a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out the online video archives (updated weekly) of the hit news spoof, Les Guignols on the Canal+ website [Note: this series was finally retired in 2018]. Think of it as Saturday Night Live with very realistic puppets. The USA is always represented with a Sylvester Stallone puppet, and you may recognize other international stars and politicians. Every day of the week this show appears as a newscast on the cable channel Canal+, and on Saturday you can catch the highlights in “La Semaine des Guignols”. A good laugh!
A Private Peek at Paris I use this next site on an almost daily basis: Les Pages Jaunes. This site is available in English, but you’d hardly need it. This is the French version of the good ol’ Yellow Pages (the White Pages are in there too). Look up a friend or a business. Then check out the real photo of the place (almost all of Paris in photographs!). It’s cool, if not a bit strange, to type in your own address, then up pops a photo of your building. Then you can navigate and “walk” around. Hours of fun wandering around Paris from your computer (feels a bit like you’re strapped to front of a Mini, maybe they used a dog-cam to take the pics). There is also the handy service of choosing any street, and they’ll list all of the businesses. So you could find out if the street your friend lives on has a wine shop or a bank before you go (come on, you know it’’ handy). [This website still exists,but it doesn’t have the fun mapping function anymore, bummer!]
Cinéma Français Ever since Amélie, people can’t get enough of French cinema. Check Allociné.com for the latest French film reviews and releases, their opinions (and funny French titles) on the current Hollywood hits, Cannes and Deauville Film Fest news, and cinema times and locations if you’re in France. You can see the film ratings and buy DVD’s like the latest Astérix adventures, too! [Still a very useful site for movie addicts in Paris.]
See the Real Paris Paris Balades is a great site that covers many neighborhoods better than any current guidebook. There’s an English section, but it’s very, very small compared to the vast info in the French section: guided walks of every Paris neighborhood, with photos, explaining monuments, architecture and history of the areas. There’s also a listing of people who give scheduled tours of different parts of the city (in French). It’s sites like this that make me realize how little I know of Paris…[This site still exists — vive Web 1.0! — but only in French now.]
French Bureaucracy at It’s Best…For Once Service Public is one of the best places to get clear, concise info on all of the bureaucratic, legal, and administrative headaches residents have to deal with in France: where to file taxes, driving regulations, how to register a vehicle, marriage laws, where to vote, changing address on your Carte de Séjour, how to sue someone, what to do if you’ve lost your job, and even where to get a fishing permi 5 t. Much, much more. There’s an info page in English, but the real info is essentially French. [Still the best website for OFFICIAL information we all need from time to time.]
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’m publishing them all here, one by one, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris”