Well. Now that it’s been… let’s see… five weeks (!) since we moved, I am finally feeling settled enough to sit down and go through all those photos I took one sunny Saturday a week before moving day. Our new neighborhood is vastly different from the old one, but wonderful in many other ways. The former apartment was located on the rue du Faubourg St. Denis in the heart of the 10th arrondissement. I loved its central location, multiple and cheap vegetable sellers, the fact that I could get Indian, Turkish, French, African, Chinese, and Portuguese products without straying more than a couple blocks, and living across the street from a cheese shop.
Oh, and there was the really cool landmark at the end of the street, too.
This is the Porte St. Denis, which at one time marked the edge of the city. (Porte means door, in case you don’t speak French.) It was built in 1672, by order of Louis XIV, aka The Sun King, or, as it is inscribed at the top of the monument, Ludovico Magno – Louis the Great. Apparently he had plans to construct showpiece gates like this all around the city, but only got two (this one, and the smaller Porte St. Martin a few blocks away) completed. At any rate, it marks the point where the rue St. Denis becomes the rue du Faubourg St. Denis, “Faubourg” being a word that indicated any road outside the city walls.
Faubourg St. Denis is a relatively long street by Parisian standards, running the entire length of the 10th, hence the designation, “Côté Porte.” I often refer to it myself as the “lower” part of the street, which leads uphill. While the “upper” part is known for being a hotbed of Indian restaurants and shops, the lower bit has quite a few as well, most of which are concentrated in the Passage Brady.
Sadly, I can’t recommend any of the restaurants in here, but on the upside, the very best spice shop I know of, Velan, lies just inside the Passage Brady, too. I love it because it has a huge variety, not only of spices (which, by the way, are neatly organized and clearly labeled) but also of dried beans, lentils, and rices – some of them organic – and sauces, teas, Indian pickles, a few British products… the place is a treasure trove, I’m telling you. The fact that it was just steps from my apartment was the gravy.
India is far from the only immigrant population here, though. There are a veritable plethora of Turkish shops and restaurants as well. A few that I frequented:
Of course, there are French establishments on Faubourg St. Denis as well. Julien is a classic old French brasserie, with beautiful art nouveau decor. I fear the food is now industrial slop, so I never ate there, but I enjoyed the view in passing many times.
Much has been written in recent months about how trendy and up-and-coming this neighborhood is. Even Pudlo (One of France’s best-known food reviewers) has written about Chez Jeannette, the loud, smoky, hipster café right next door to my old place.
I couldn’t believe my luck when a guy in a plaid shirt walked in front of me while I was snapping this one. But I can understand why the place is popular. Drinks are inexpensive compared to much of Paris (not necessarily, though, for this still-gritty neighborhood), and the original 1950’s decor has been preserved. I can’t speak to the food they serve, though.
I mean, when you can get a Kurdish sandwich on freshly baked flatbread filled with charcoal-grilled meat for just a couple of euros, I don’t know why you would spend 14 euros on a cheeseburger. At least I never did.
One of the things I liked best about living on the rue du Faubourg St. Denis was the abundance of food shops. Apart from the aforementioned Julhès cheese shop-caviste-bakery-deli, whose signature plastic bags can be seen in the hands of many passerby, there are a few butchers…
…several fruit-and-vegetable sellers…
…and even a coffee roaster.
It’s a very urban environment, but there is one tiny green space near the Boulevard Magenta.
It even has a small section that looks like it might be some kind of community garden, although it was almost always full of tramps. I like these statues, though – a copper woman holding a gold sun, and a bronze man holding a silver moon.
I have just one more photo for you before the tour is concluded.
What is this condemned-looking, graffiti-ed doorway?
Why, that was chez moi.
On this day in 2009: Bringing All The Boys To The Yard
Originally published on Croque-Camille.