Paris Secrets: Part Four


Discover the hidden Paris with our definitive guide to the city’s best-kept secrets



The Anako is a péniche, a refurbished houseboat, on the Bassin de la Villette that has been transformed into an arts and entertainment centre celebrating different cultures. It regularly screens documentary films, followed by discussions with the producers. Each month the péniche presents themed evenings: films and music from a particular part of the world. It also holds concerts, young film-maker soirées and exhibitions. The events are laidback, with a bar and friendly staff.

La Péniche Anako, Bassin de la Villette, Face au 61 Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris

Tel: (Fr) 9 53 14 90 68

Métro: Riquet, Stalingrad, Jaurès


It was on a grey Sunday morning on the way back from Père Lachaise cemetery that I stumbled upon La Bellevilloise. Established in 1877 as a workers’ co-operative, in the spirit of the Paris Commune, it is now an off-beat arts venue. Most popular among the bo-bo (bourgeois-bohemian) cognoscenti are the Sunday jazz brunches in the Halle aux Oliviers. The best tables are in front of the stage with an olive tree growing out of the middle. First-timers, however, are often placed on the mezzanine floor. Booking is essential.

La Bellevilloise, 19-21 Rue Boyer, 75020 Paris

Tel: (Fr) 1 46 36 07 07

Métro: Gambetta


The legendary art-house cinema Studio 28, tucked away on the Butte de Montmartre, opened in 1928 and became a meeting place for avant-garde film-makers such as Luis Buñuel and Abel Gance. It now shows French and foreign films from all eras in their original versions. The velvet-seated auditorium, old-fashioned ticket booth and quirky chandeliers designed by Jean Cocteau help to create a nostalgic charm and it’s not surprising the cinema featured in the much-loved 2001 film Amélie. The shaded patio garden and corridor-turned-art add to the allure.

Studio 28, 10 Rue Tholozé, 75018 Paris

Tel: (Fr) 1 46 06 36 07

Métro: Blanche, Abbesses


Arrive early in the evening at the base of the Arc de Triomphe to witness a poignant ritual: the rekindling of the flame that burns on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A daily ceremony at 6.30pm pays tribute to all those who have died in the service of France: wreaths are laid and a sword is inserted on the side of a bronze shield to revive the flame. Sometimes the ceremony is attended by military and political leaders and foreign dignitaries. An association dedicated to the eternal flame has a calendar of events (

Tombe du Soldat Inconnu, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris

Métro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile


Le Comptoir Général is an African club open daily from 11am. It is a dusty, groovy, indoors/outdoors venue set back from the Canal Saint-Martin in the trendy 10th arrondissement where they show films you might not see elsewhere followed by discussions. There are a couple of bars, a café, lots of African ghetto music and a dance floor. As you push your way through the crowds, you will encounter hidden corners displaying witchdoctor remedies, a miniature makeshift jungle and African memorabilia.

Le Comptoir Général, 80 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris

Tel: (Fr) 1 44 88 24 48

Métro: République, Goncourt

Contributors: Zoë McIntyre, Régine Godfrey, Carol Drinkwater and Paul Lamarra.

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