About Secrets of Paris

American-born travel journalist and guidebook author Heather Stimmler-Hall created the Secrets of Paris in 1999 to share the hidden side of the City of Light. Discover what you've been missing:

* Custom Travel Content
* Travel Writing Workshops
* Calendar of interesting Paris events 
* Monthly Secrets of Paris newsletter
* Secrets of Paris Tours & Travel Planning

Read more about the Secrets of Paris here

 

 

 

Calendar of Paris Events

May 13-16
The 27th annual Artists' Open Studios in Belleville takes place for four days in over 120 ateliers in Belleville (11th, 19th & 20th arrondissements). It's a great chance to see some neighborhoods tourists don't normally see, to meet local artists, and of course purchase some lovely artworks! Pick up a map and program at the Espace Jordain (3 rue Jean-Baptiste Dumay, 20th, M° Jourdain). Free entry. Open 2-8pm, Fri-Sat until 10pm. 

May 21
Check out your favorite Paris museum at night during the 12th annual Nuit Européenne des Musées, when all over Europe museums stay open until midnight...for free! Special flashlight tours, live music, installment arts, film screenings, costumed museum guides, and other fun events throughout the evening at each museum.

May 21-22
Attention equestrian fans: it's time for the one of the legendary horse racing events in Paris, the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at the Hippodrome d'Auteuil (16th). There will be food trucks, snack stands and you can also dine in the panoramic restaurant overlooking the racetrack. Tickets are €8. 

Click here to see the full calendar of events...

Secrets of Paris gives 10% of all tour fees to the French food bank, Les Restos du Coeur

Monday
Apr252016

Viator Promoting Vandalism Tours of Paris 

UPDATE April 26th: Thanks to the public outcry and many of your emails, Viator has removed the "Love Lock" tour from its website! The FB page remains active, but hopefully not for long. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share this article and to speak out against the destruction of Paris's beautiful bridges, it makes a difference! 

In the latest episode of heartbreak and disgust, the world's largest reseller of tours is promoting vandalism tours, and the beautiful bridge overlooking the 863-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral is completely covered in ugly scaffolding after its railing were destroyed by the rusting padlocks known as "Love Locks". 

Le Pont de l'Archevêché behind Notre Dame, behind scaffolding until late summer 2016 because of the rusting padlocks.

Are you as sick of reading about the destructive "love locks" as I am writing about them? Unfortunately until tourists stop attaching padlocks to the city's historic bridges and monuments, I'm going to keep reminding you (and I'm hoping you'll pass it on to your friends and family and colleagues when they travel to Paris). 

Despite the massive, ongoing efforts of the Mayor of Paris and citizen campaigns like No Love Locks, there are still idiots attaching padlocks anywhere they feel like it. Yesterday I discovered by chance that Viator is now marketing a vandalism tour where couples pay €120 per person for the "Love Locks Workshop while Drinking Champagne". On this "tour" they get to choose and customize a padlock while drinking Champagne, then "when your Love Lock is ready your guides will conduct you to hang it up on the poetic Pont de l'Archevêché, where there's a great view of Notre Dame." I almost threw up reading this. Viator, owned by TripAdvisor, is the largest reseller of tours in the world. As I mentioned in my article What You Don’t Know about TripAdvisor (which now has 80k views!), Viator lets anyone post any tour at all without verifying legality, let alone legitimacy. There is no way to flag the tour, nor a "contact" link to ask Viator to remove it. The "guide" Eléonore Chevallier and her husband also have a Facebook page promoting the destructive tours.

View of the Pont de l'Archevêché from the Left Bank, covered in scaffolding.

The little red heart up at the top of this sign says "Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. No more love locks!"

The most distressing thing is that the railings of the specific bridge they mention has been completely ripped out because of the damage and are now under scaffolding. The pictures above are from this weekend, and the ones below from last summer.

The Pont de l'Archevêché covered in rusting padlocks and graffiti, from summer 2015.

Unfortunately each time the City of Paris finds a way to prevent padlocks from being attached to a bridge, the vandals just find a new place to attach them: I noticed there are now padlocks being attached to the fencing in front of the Cathedral. Disgusting!

Speak out against this horrific practice, and please tell your friends visiting Paris not to participate in the destruction of this beautiful city! 

Tuesday
Apr052016

Another Parisian Bridge Liberated from Destructive Padlocks

This morning on my run I was thrilled to see a dozen municipal workers removing padlocks one by one from the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, formerly known as Passerelle Solférino (the pedestrian bridge connecting the Tuileries Gardens to the Musée d'Orsay).

You can see sky through the finished section on the left. They still had the other side of the bridge to liberate...but how to keep idiot vandals from adding more locks all over again? Unlike the Pont des Arts, the architecture of thin metal wires on the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor doesn't allow for the Plexiglas panels that prevent padlocks from being attached. 

If you're interested in more news about the destructive "Love Locks" that are ruining the beautiful historical bridges of Paris, check out the No Love Locks website. 

Monday
Apr042016

Private Paris: The Making of a Thriller set in Paris

In April 2013 I had a very unique tour client, author Mark Sullivan researching the latest detective crime thriller in the "Private" series he co-authors with James Patterson. Almost exactly three years later, Private Paris finally launched on March 15th and is already a New York Times #1 bestseller. Now that I can finally share a bit of the behind-the-scenes preparation that went into the novel, I spoke with Mark over the phone to get his take on how on-the-ground research made a difference in the final result.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr022016

The Golden Hershey Kiss at Pont de l'Alma

I was with some tour clients last week, and as we crossed from the Avenue George V and across the Place de l'Alma to drive along the Right Bank, one of the kids asks, "What's that golden Hershey Kiss?" "Oh, that's a replica of the Statue of Liberty Flame," I reply, explaining how it was a gift from the International Herald Tribune to Paris for its 150th anniversary back in the 1980s. "It's become a sort of memorial spot because Princess Diana's car crashed in the tunnel beneath it." 

Not this one, a replica of the Statue of Liberty flame seen peeking out over the Pont de l'Alma on the Right Bank.

The girl's grandfather then says, "Not that one, the big thing that looks like a gold dome across the other side of the bridge?" I turn around to see what they're talking about, and suddenly remember talk of the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral being built there. It has been an enormous construction site for the past few years, but last month they placed the first of five golden onion-style domes -- typical of Russian Orthodox churches -- that will grace the final monument housing a bilingual school, church and cultural center. As it's just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower, it will be hard to miss this gilded addition to the Parisian skyline. And yes, before they added the cross it did indeed look like a giant golden Hershey Kiss. 

From the architect's website Wilmotte & Associés; the Russian Orthodox cathedral being built on the Left Bank. Only the largest dome is currently in place. 

You can see more images here on the architect's website. 

Tuesday
Mar292016

Visit a Historic Schooner on the Seine

Back in the fall Parisians welcomed a rather unique vessel on the Seine, the three-masted schooner La Boudeuse, constructed in Holland in 1916. The 46-meter ship with 13 sails has explored all seven of the world's seas and has a fascinating history:

"La Boudeuse » is one of the rare French three-masted schooners still in use and the only one to sail on long journeys on all the seas around the world. It is dedicated to the pursuit of discovery, adventure and science, in the spirit of the great maritime and land expeditions of the Enlightenment. For this reason, a certain number of writers, philosophers, painters, scientists and photographers are part of the crew.

The captain of « La Boudeuse » and the project initiator is Patrice Franceschi, sailor, writer, explorer, member of the French Society of the Philosophy of Science and Honorary President of the Society of French Explorers…"

Read more about the schooner and its world mission here

La Boudeuse was in Paris for the COP21 Climate Change conference, meant to leave in January for a new adventure. But for the moment it's still moored along Les Berges of the Rive Gauche in the Port du Gros Caillou (aka Quai d'Orsay, 7th), and the general public is welcome to visit for free every Saturday (unless noted on their website), hourly tours are conducted from 10am through 4pm. 

Monday
Mar282016

Time Machine Gimmick at Place de la Bastille

There's a new machine at the Place de la Bastille that promises to take you on an immersive virtual reality trip into the past to see the square as it looked in the 15th and 18th centuries when it was still dominated by the Bastille fortress. If you've got a working internet connection to pay the €2...

Click to read more ...