Paris Tidbits 10/08



Below are links to interesting things I found while researching for this trip. I sent out this information in a email called "Paris Daily Tidbits" to my Mom, our friends who will will be meeting in the Dordogne, and our friends J & T who went to Rome with us and will hopefully go to Paris on their own next year.

Paris Tidbit #1- Andre Jacquemart Museum and Museum Passes


The above link is for a lovely little museum in the 8th. The Michelin Green guide gives it 2 stars (“worth a detour”). The museum is in a beautiful old mansion, built in 1875 and filled with a magnificent private art collection. Not only art, but this is a “house museum” so all of the original furniture remains in the “apartments” and you get to see how people lived in the late 19th century.
Apparently, there is also a wonderful café for lunch, afternoon tea, or a great Sunday brunch. This museum does not appear to be covered by the Paris Museum Pass

http://www.parismuseumpass.com/en/home.php (2, 4, or 6 day passes)

Note- many museums are free on the first Sunday of the month.

Paris Tidbit #2- Montmartre Festival in October

There is a big cultural festival in Montmartre (in the 18th arr.) on the 2nd weekend of October. This festival has been going on every year since 1934 and looks to be very much a “locals” event (ie not put on for tourists).

The bottom of this page has a translation in English.

This blog explains it better. Lots of photos from last year’s events. Make sure you check out the hats on the parade-goers.
This is definitely a “food and wine” event. Montmartre has the only surviving vineyard left in Paris proper I believe.

Paris Tidbit #3- Secrets of Paris Newsletter

The "Secrets of Paris" is a website and newsletter put together by American expat Heather Stimler-Hall. She's a writer who has been living in Paris for over 10 years. I've been getting the email newsletter for at least 4 years and there's always an interesting tidbit or two in it. There's also usually some insight on what it's like to live full time there. There's a ton of information on her website and/or you can subscribe to her email newsletter there.

Paris Tidbit #4- Walking Tours

A few options for walking tours in Paris:

1. Paris Walks. One of the oldest and most respected.
Regular walks are 10 euros.

2. http://www.newparistours.com/ -This Company offers a FREE walking tour of Paris.

3. Paris Greeter- http://www.parisgreeter.org/home/ - Not really a walking tour but an organization which matches up visitors with locals who volunteer to share their time and passion about their neighborhoods. FREE. Must be set up in advance by emailing a request.

4. Frommer’s guidebook website lists the same walking tours as in their books:

5. http://www.classicwalksparis.com/ -Tours 20 euro and up.

6. Not really walking:

Paris Tidbit #5- Transportation Options

Yes, Paris has the best Metro system in the world, but that’s not all…

1. This blog/website http://parisbytrain.com/ has excellent, detailed explanations of all things train, metro and RER (suburban train) in Paris. There is an especially good page on how to take the RER trains to/from the airport (only 8.20 euro) and great explanations of the different types of passes.

2. This is the official website for the Paris Metro system:
Click on the British flag at the top for the English version. It has a route planner option to help you figure out how to get where you want to go.The Metro has many options for tickets. There are different versions of passes, but most are not a good deal unless you plan to ride a lot.

3. http://www.transport-idf.com/frontal?controller=Default&langue=en
This is an all-in-one site which lets you look up routes for all forms of transport; metro, bus, RER

4. http://www.batobus.com/english/index.htm
This is a boat which goes up and down the Seine on a set route, stopping near most major tourist points. 12 euro for 1 day, 14 euro for 2 days, unlimited rides.

5. If you just want to do an hour or so cruise up and down the river, then try http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/index.htm
Tickets are 11 euro, or print a voucher off their website to save 2 euro, or buy tickets in advance online and save 4 euro per person.

6. Try a Canal Cruise: http://www.canauxrama.com/e_formules.asp?id=1

Notes about Metro Tickets:
Single ticket is 1.5 euro (increase in price expected soon)
A “carnet” is a packet of 10 tickets and costs 11.10 euro. These tickets can be shared, unlike a pass.
Tickets can be used on both busses and the Metro, but not both in the same route (ie, no transfers between bus and metro)
Hold on to your ticket because you often need it to be able to exit the station.

Paris Tidbit #6- Macarons

Macarons are not Macaroons.
These are not coconut cookies. These are the quintessential Parisian cookie. In fact, they are two cookies, delicate, with a slight crust on the outside, forming a sandwich around an equally delicate crème in the middle.
Heaven in a cookie.
They range in flavor from the normal (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry) to the wild (orange-saffron, java-pepper, Indian Rose). My favorite is the salted butter caramel.
The tea and pastry shop Laduree is reported to have the best and I can attest from personal experience that they are fabulous.

 I have found nothing better to describe them in exquisite, OCD detail than this blog entry:

Laduree’s website: http://www.laduree.fr/

Paris Tidbit #7-Markets

Y’all know how I feel about markets, don’t you?

I love markets. I love the beautiful array of produce, the gleaming fish, the wet floors, the smell of meat and flowers.*

Food Markets:
This website has photos and details on 4 main outdoor markets in Paris.

This may be the definitive list of every market in every arrondissement.


This is actually a sample chapter from someone’s book on Paris, but it happens to be about markets and there’s some interesting info here.

Other Markets:
I prefer food markets, but here is the official website of the Paris Flea market.

The Flower and Bird Market
“Marche aux Fleurs et Oiseaux”
This is on the Ile de la Cite and is one of the oldest remaining flower markets in Paris. Monday-Saturday. On Sundays it turns into a caged bird market. 8am-7pm

The Stamp Market
“Marche aux Timbres”, aka “Marché Rond-Point des Champs Elysées”
On the Champs-Élysées (8th)  at Cour Marigny on Thursdays, Saturdays and all day on Sundays. Metro: Franklin-D-Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées Clémenceau

*Yes, I plagiarized from myself. Is it really plagiarism when you are the one who wrote it? No matter, because I’d bet my left pinky toe that many of you had never read it in the first place. You know who you are. Kudos to the first person who reads this and remembers where that quote came from.

Paris Tidbit #8-"What's on"

Looking for something to do while you’re there? Like there’s not already enough…

Exhaustive listing of Exhibitions, Theater , Music, Festivals, etc.

I particularly like this page which lists what’s FREE-
and there is a link at the bottom of that page for what’s free on the 1st Sunday of every month (many big museums)

“The webzine for English speaking Parisians”-nicely organized. They have a page listing just Photography exhibits for example. The “Food and Drink” page is good too.



This is interesting…Nuit Blanche in Paris-

“The French tradition of eschewing sleep in favour of discussion or partying is known as a nuit blanche. For one long October night in Paris, museums, libraries, monuments, tourist sites, cinemas, parks and swimming pools stay open all night for a cultural night of discovery.
Around 600,000 revellers participated in 2006 and numbers are expected to be equally high this year. At dawn, each district's city hall, local associations and shopkeepers organise breakfasts for those who lasted through the night. Further details are posted on the Nuit Blanche website as they are announced.”

It is usually the first Saturday night in October.

Paris Tidbit #9-Hidden Gardens

Great article in NY Times about “Hidden Gardens of Paris”

Paris Tidbit #10-Favorite France Food Blogs

Here are some of my favorite food blogs, mostly from Paris. Many give an insider’s look at what it’s like to live (and cook!) in France.

US expat pastry chef and cookbook author living in Paris. I’ve made his “Salted Butter Caramel” ice cream for the 4th! It was the. best. ice. cream. flaver. ever.

Woman who lives in Paris and writes about food.

another cookbook author.

The name may be Italian, but it’s all French.

The personal food blog of a woman who creates customized food tours of Paris (http://www.edible-paris.com/)

Ok, this is not about food, but it’s interesting nonetheless. This guy posts a different photo every day, taken somewhere in Paris.

Paris Tidbit #11-Comprehensive French Food Glossary

Patricia Wells, author of the famous “Food Lover’s Guide to Paris” has put a spectacular French/English food glossary on her website. I doubt there is anything on a menu which cannot be found on this list.

It can be downloaded in Word format or as a PDF. In Word, it is 40 pages long, so I don’t recommend printing it out to carry around unless you reformat it to print like a book, double sided (I did). However, downloading it to a PDA or Blackberry is a great idea and then it can be searched using the “Find” feature in Pocket Word as needed.

Paris Tidbit #12-Kristina's Paris Google Map


The map has our hotels, sightseeing locations, and restaurants. I even created custom icons of a wine glass for wine bars and a cross for churches (don’t ask, it took forever to figure out). This map will grow the closer we get to departure.

Paris Tidbit #13-"Meet the French"


The website books B&Bs, dinners in a local’s home, tours and most interesting, cultural tours in conjunction with the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For as little as 6 euro per person you can go on a short tour of a local bakery, chocolatier, herbalist’s shop, various artist’s workshops, a theater and so many more.

Here is a current list of programs they offer

Paris Tidbit #14-"The Toilets of the World Tour Continues..."

When we were in Rome, I was seriously considering titling the trip the “Toilets of the World Tour” given the sheer multitude and variety of toilets we visited.

In Paris, there are a number of options if you are in need of “watering the flowers” as they say.

If you are on the Champs Elysees you might want to check out this luxury public restroom:

There is a list of locations of free public toilets here. Of those, “you will find 12 “superloos”, open from 6am to 10pm, and 24 lavatories, open from 10am to noon and from 1pm to 6:15pm. These public toilets are free and clean themselves automatically after each visitor.” These are the stainless steel contraptions placed on sidewalks which, if you take too long inside might just give you a shower in the process.
There is an interesting “how to” here: http://europeforvisitors.com/paris/articles/paris-public-toilets.htm

Other Options:
You can also use cafes and bars, but keep in mind you may be expected to buy something first. Buying a coffee or soda in order to be able to use la toilette starts a vicious cycle, don’t you think? In addition, the older bars and cafes are where you are most likely to find the older style “Turkish” or “squat” toilets, so be prepared.

McDonalds had always been a good option in my experience while traveling, but I’ve read that many in Paris require an entrance code off a receipt before you can get into the toilet.

If you have a Museum Pass you can use it to walk right in and use the public restrooms for free.

For men, the last remaining Paris pissoir is on Boulevard Arago http://www.flickr.com/photos/25736142@N05/2607015378/

Finally, even if you don’t have to go, I highly recommend checking out the public toilet in the Place de la Madeline built by the famous Porcher ceramic company in 1905. It’s filled with dark wood paneling, stained glass and beautiful ceramic sinks. You can see photos on our website here: http://www.wired2theworld.com/paris2005day3and4.html

Paris Tidbit #15-Set your Tivo

Whenever we travel somewhere, I create a "wishlist" in our Tivo for that destination. Sometimes shows pop up that are really interesting. Below are a couple...

“Anthony Bourdain”-Travel Channel
My favorite snarky chef/writer/travel TV show host goes to Paris. Don’t expect your typical Parisian tourist stuff. There will be no Louvre visit, no climbing the Eiffel tower, but there will be plenty of good food and acerbic wit.

“Paris”- three episodes,OVTV (Ovation TV-a new “arts” channel)
I’ve seen most of these three shows and have been waiting for them to come back on. I came across them a few months ago and was really impressed with the content. They are hosted by a French woman who is an Art Historian and are some of the best/most interesting shows I’ve seen about Paris. They are not classified as “travel” but rather “documentary”. She interviews interesting people like Christian Lacroix, Picasso’s grandson, and a famous photographer. She gives some good insider’s tips on Paris along the way.

Paris Tidbit #16-Shopping!

Do you like mustard? Then make your way to the Maille store where you can buy all different types of mustards and oils. You can even fill a crock with fresh mustard from a tap and have it sealed with a cork. Just make sure you wrap it well because you can’t carry it on the plane…
6, place de la Madeleine
75008 Paris
Tel.: + 33 (0)1 40 15 06 00
Open Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 7 pm
BTW, this store is very near the Lauderee store and the Porcher toilets (both mentioned in previous Tidbits) in the Place de la Madeleine

Gallerie Layayette- Department store. This store, built in the late 1800’s is beautiful and has a stained glass dome at the top of the atrium. They do fashion shows there on Friday afternoons and have a great food shop in the basement. Good views from the roof too.

For tea, Mariage Freres is supposed to be one of the best.

For soaps and perfumes, Fragonard
The soaps made with plan oils are supposed to be excellent with fragrance which lasts a long time
They also have a Museum of Perfume:

52, Rue de Rivoli
75004 Paris, France
01 42 74 99 00
Department store- looks to be a little like Ikea, Target and Home depot combined. Interesting for seeing everyday shopping. Plus, there is a sign shop in the basement with a selection of signs in French.

Paris Tidbit #17- Gourmet magazine, Paris Collector's Edition, September 2008

The September 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine is one of their “Collector’s Issues” all about Paris!  It looks to be quite delicious.

If you don’t want to buy it, a good portion of it is online on their website at http://www.gourmet.com/travel/cityguides/paris

Paris Tidbit #18-Tripit!

A while back I discovered an interesting new website, www.tripit.com

This website allows you to upload all your reservation confirmations to create an online itinerary.  I had no problem uploading my email confirmation from United. However, it would not accept the confirmation email from smaller French hotels. Those I had to enter manually along with the car rental and train info. If we’d used a US car rental agency or Amtrak, rather than European ones, uploading would have worked just fine. Still, it’s all in one nice neat package which can be printed out or sent to web enabled phones. They also add weather info, maps (google), directions, and you can manually add just about anything else you want. Finally, you can share your itinerary with everyone on your trip or others.

I emailed them with a couple of suggestions (to enable the use of personal Google Maps “My Maps” function and to have the Google maps stay at the last zoom setting). I heard back within 24 hours from a person who told me my ideas were great and they’d look into implementing them.

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