Thursday, January 17, 2008

Marché Barbès





This week has been slow moving…or at least I have been. With the dark, damp, and gray weather, my experience of a Northern European winter has become official and it’s one experience more than I really want. The sun rises at 8:00-8:15 and that is often only a literal term because some days it just stays a dark, stormy gray all day, meaning 8:30 is much like 4:30 and then, it’s dark. Fun.

For weeks I have been meaning to get to the Marché Barbès in the 18th arrondissement. The market, which takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:30-3:00, is located under the metro line 2 on the Boulevard de la Chapelle between Blvd. Barbès and Tombouctou. This part of Paris is off the beaten path—just down from Sacre Coeur, the neighborhood is pretty much an ethnic enclave of Arabs and Africans. It’s been changing some in the last few years, so I hear, but when you leave the trendy, tourist Montmartre and cross Boulevard Barbès, you feel the change.

Thus the market is sensory overload- a frenetic, vibrating experience that totally threw me out of winter doldrums. As the little old ladies in headscarves rolled their carts over my toes and nudged me out of their way, my state of mind went from longing to become a farmer with small house on a warm coast, to one of pleasure to be in a city that can take you from one corner of the world to another in a 10 minute walk. The vendors were loud, shouting to passerby’s and cracking jokes. I felt totally like a foreigner and when I went to take a photo I felt a little out of my element and in fact the vendor who saw me then yelled ‘no photos!’ I had been scolded at, like I had broken protocol, whereas in a typical French market I wouldn’t even think twice about it. I had started off early in the day annoyed at all the people on the streets and unenthusiastic about Paris, but while at the market I felt happy to be jostled and pushed about, and it almost served as the perfect reminder that the energy and diversity found in any good city, like Paris, should be appreciated more often.

1 comment:

Cyrille / Matieres à réflexion said...

That's where we go grocery-shopping on wednesdays !

It was nice seeing you in our little boutique the other day !

A bientot alors,
-Cyrille