I’m off work for the week and mindfully planning each day so as not to waste a single minute. I work on my book project from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then I stop and go outside. Today I crossed Paris for a rendez-vous in the 11th arrondissement. Afterwards, as I was strolling along the rue de Charonne that leads into the boulevard Voltaire, I passed a market selling fruits and vegetables. Hey, I said to no-one in particular, these are half the price of the fruits and veg in my neighbourhood. So I made a few purchases and continued on my way, now carrying a cauliflower, blueberries and a papaya.
Here’s the delicious smoothie I made when I eventually got home – papaya, fresh lime juice, coconut milk, orange juice, fresh ginger root, blueberries and raspberries. Fresh mint leaves would’ve rounded it off, but I didn’t have any. My Haitian friend, Monique, enjoys her papaya sprinkled with lime juice and a tiny dash of salt.
I unwittingly stumbled across this store that I’ve been meaning to visit for two years now. “I can’t believe you’ve never been to Merci!” says Rosemary, my friend from London who goes there every time she visits Paris. They call it a “concept store”. OK. So now I can tell Rosemary that I’ve been there, however because I was carrying a cauliflower and a papaya (and blueberries), it took some juggling to get my camera out. I only made a quick tour of the ground floor. The owners of Merci, I later learned, are also the owners of Bonpoint, that precious high-end clothing store for children. Through a foundation, 100% of Merci’s profits are donated to help women and children in Madagascar. I’d like to be able to do something like that. I’d like to create a foundation that helps children in Iraq.
Turning left into the rue Froissart I continued walking. I actually had a specific destination in mind which you’ll discover further down. I passed the headquarters of the French Secours Populaire (People’s Aid) society.
“All that is human is ours“. I’m a volunteer for the French Secours Populaire, devoting occasional Saturdays to help out at jumble sales, fairs and events to raise money for charity. I look forward to the day I retire so I can devote more of my time. I could teach English, for example. Being English mother tongue, I have discovered since living in France, is a major asset and can open doors to, well, lots of things. It’s precious currency.
Now I’m on the rue de Bretagne in the 3rd arrondissement and I’m looking for a small Italian deli called Mmmozza. It specializes in mozzarella cheese, coldcuts and sandwiches and the address is 57 rue de Bretagne. Here’s Chez Omar at number 47 rue de Bretagne. Go there for one of the best couscous in the city at reasonable prices. Great atmosphere, convivial and relaxed. They don’t take reservations. Another good couscous place in this district – more expensive than Chez Omar – is Le 404 at 69, rue des Gravilliers. Reservations are a must.
So I find Mmmozza and step inside, famished because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and roasting because of the heat and all the walking. My papaya is gloopy. “Bonjour”, I say to the smiling woman behind the counter. “I’d like a sandwich, please”. I had read about their delicious mozzarella-rocket-sundried tomato sandwiches and I’m salivating.
Because it’s so late in the afternoon, the woman informs me, there’s no bread left. It’s a 40-minute wait for new bread to come out of the oven. Merda. I order a mocha ice cream.
Their beautiful, fresh mozzarella is delivered every Thursday from the region around Naples. They also serve pecorino cheese and other products. In the end, I didn’t wait for the bread to come out of the oven. I went home to make my smoothie. But I’ll return.
I always enjoy your pictures and comments. But, too tell the truth, I am not so sure how comfortable and welcoming we will find Paris when we visit next Spring. Hopefully, the hate and pogrom like atmosphere will have died down, and Paris will again return to its center and find its true heart.
“Pogrom-like” atmosphere? Here in France? Don’t you mean in Gaza?
There are six million Muslims living in France (10 percent of the population) compared to approximately 500,000 French Jews. As I wrote in my May 10 post entitled Why (some) French Jews are leaving France for Israel, here’s reason number one as to why there have been some anti-Semitic attacks in France –
As for the “pogrom-like atmosphere”, that you mention – as I walk around the city (which I did yesterday – I crossed the city on foot), and go about my daily business, I am not witnessing open hostility or organized massacres of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews, which is the definition of pogrom. If you are referring to the recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations that, unfortunately, escalated into chants, the vandalizing and looting of two Jewish businesses and the burning of cars in the district of Sarcelles…then yes, these are hateful acts. They are also isolated acts occurring in suburbs that are already tension-filled due to soaring unemployment, poverty, and a very high percentage of disenfranchised Muslim youths. Car-burning is a common act of defiance in France carried out frequently and on any occasion (traditionally every December 31st, for some strange reason.)
I wouldn’t step one foot in Sarcelles, Sherman, at any time of day or year. Here’s the definition of this northern suburb from Wikipedia – Sarcelles is known as an infamous and a violent place with a high rate of poverty.
I think that when you come to Paris and stay in the 6th arrondissement – or any central arrondissement – you will not come across these problems.
You mentioned a “pogrom like atmosphere” in Gaza, which I missed in an earlier reading and just noticed. What is happening in Gaza is a tragedy, but the blame lies on Hamas for its use of human shields. The higher the death toll among Palestinians, the more Hamas can use the propaganda for its ugly attacks on Israel. Remember, Israel uses missiles to protect its citizens; Hamas uses its citizens to protect its missiles. How could you miss such an obvious truth?. I know you do not want to turn your blog into a political discussion, but please think through the logic of your incorrect characterizations.
Sherman, I don’t mind turning my blog into a political discussion. I don’t know what you mean when you say “Israel uses missiles to protect its citizens; Hamas uses its citizens to protect its missiles”. Israel uses highly-sophisticated weaponry to pulverize homes, streets and communities in Gaza while killing innocent children, women, families. The world is stunned with shock.
When you read the papers and see the TV images of worldwide protest marches, what do you think? That the world has gone mad and only Israel is right?
Dear Juliet – your blog makes me hunger for the Paris I dreamed of visiting. But on my first time there, just this June (2014) we saw so much street begging and were treated with callousness by everyone. We ended up leaving 2 days early and only saw a few sites due to the strikes and threats of strikes. But one thing I hope that you can do, since you live in Paris, is to find a way to let someone in authority know about a depraved street beggar we saw who was abusing his small dog.
This man is in his late 30s or 40s, with dark hair and a big red ‘wen’ (raised mole) of about 1 inch across on his right temple. He appears to be dealing drugs as well as begging, because scrawny young people wearing heavy clothes even in a 100 degree heat wave were coming up to him and exchanging money for small packets of something. This man was begging on the street, using a small dog about the size of a chihuahua, tan in color. He was around Boulevard St. Michel and Place St. Michel, near the Seine. When he didn’t think anyone was watching, he would poke at the dog, beat his fist on its tail, and wake it up if it was trying to sleep. The entire episode of watching him was like seeing some from Dickens in the midst of Paris – just awful. We didn’t speak enough French to know how to tell anyone and didn’t know who to tell, anyway. Everyone we met in Paris seemed to be heartless anyway. But perhaps you can figure out how to get someone to at least take away his dog!
I’m sorry to hear that your first and only trip to Paris was ruined by disturbing street scenes, unfriendly people and strikes. If it were I who had witnessed someone beating an animal (or a human), I would’ve just marched up to that person and started screaming at him/her in English. Doesn’t matter what language you’re speaking; people understand the message. You should’ve done that, Mattie.
I guess the point I’m making is this – I’m not going to cross Paris to wander round the boulevard St. Michel and Place St. Michel looking for a street beggar abusing a small dog and then go to the police station to report it. You should have done that. You should’ve also confronted the man on the spot, as it was happening.
Juliet. My wife and I (and our francophile friends) really enjoy your informative, often amusing and sometimes irreverant blog. Keep up the good work!
Thanks so much, BettyandBob. I appreciate your kind comments (and love my little fan club).
What I meant by the comment of how Israel and Hamas use missiles seems clear enough to me. World opinion can be wrong, and in this case I believe it is misplaced. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions so I will not argue with you about that. And, yes, there are innocents who are being hurt, admittedly most of them Palestinians. One reason for that is that Israel has built shelters and a warning system. Hamas has taken its resources to build tunnels and weapons systems, placing them in the midst of civilian populations. How very brave of Hamas leaders who have refuge in Qatar and elsewhere, while their own people die because of their deliberate choices, giving their people no other opportunity for safety or a better life. That is what I meant when I wrote that Israel uses its missiles to defend its people. Hamas uses its people to defend its missiles. This is an organization dedicated to nothing less than the destruction of Israel. And, please allow me to remind you that when Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005, it left behind functioning greenhouses and farms. It left an economic infrastructure that could have been used for the betterment of the Palestinian people. Instead, the Palestinians, even before Hamas took over, chose to destroy all that was left for their benefit in a blind rage that left them with nothing except their hatred. So, to talk to me about protests all over the world means nothing to me. Let the protesters live in a country which is being deliberately targeted by rockets meant not for military installations, but to terrify, kill and maim civilians. Would France sit still if Belgium were tunneling under its borders to allow Belgian terrorists to come in, kill and maim. I think not. If Hamas ends its rocket assults, and drops its call for the destruction of Israel and the Jews, then, and only then can people sit down to reason out a solution. Then, and only then, can Palestinian swords be turned into Palestinian plowshares so that they and Israel can find common accord and peace. Were that to happen, think of how the entire Middle East would prosper. Think how the Arab world would prosper if it could get over not only its hatred of Jews and Israel, but its
Shia-Sunni hatreds that has torn that part of the world into misery for most of its people for centuries.
For now, let’s put this discussion aside and get back to the purpose of your blog, the pleasures of Paris, its art, music, fashion and people, at least most of them
Your pictures made me homesick. 🙂
We left France two months ago to live in Osaka, Japan for 3 years. I miss bakeries and steack-frites….
But I do like the high quality of the fruits and vegetables here. What I had to buy at the market in France, I can get at the “supa” (supermarket) here in Osaka.
All the best to you and good luck with your project!
Thanks a lot, Victoria! One day I will get to Japan. I’ve never been to Asia.