Sunday, 31 July 2011

Out and About in Paris: Rue Mouffetard Market on a Sunday

This weekend marked the Parisian exodus. This is when the Parisians head out to their country homes, to some faraway place, or to the south of France for the sun and the sea, for their annual four-week vacance. With the tourist season in full swing, the visitors have Paris, mostly to themselves. There are some locals who choose to stay and actually enjoy the quietness in the city and welcome the new pace of the summer days. One thing to remember about the month of August is half of the business establishments are closed for renovation, as the owners and employees go on holiday.  Just in case you made a list of restaurants or places to visit, be sure to check the availability and schedule, beforehand.

One thing to include in your itinerary is to visit  a French market, which can be quite entertaining. Occasionally, we go around on Sundays just to check out the market scene. 
At the onset, the permanent market at rue Mouffetard looked like a typical set-up, just like the other markets. There were the usual stalls for fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat. This market happens to be on a very old cobblestoned road (which goes back to the 1st century) situated on the St. Genevieve Hill, which was left untouched during the redesign of Paris by Baron Haussmann, under the reign of Napoleon lll. It is one of the oldest markets in Paris, located in the 5eme arrondisement. 
Then, I heard music. Under a green canopy was a gentleman playing French tunes on his accordion...
providing dance music for the crowd that had gathered.
They even got playful and started to do chain dancing. 
A lady got up, took the microphone and began to sing, much to the delight of the dance aficionados and the restaurant patrons.

This was the type of French ambiance I had previously associated with being in France, based on the movies I had watched. Though now, it is not as typical as I thought it would be, until I come to places like this. And I love it!

An older man came over to ask me to dance...or maybe, he was my age - and I wanted to dance - but I declined graciously as I was carrying a load plus my camera. It was delightful to watch them, enjoying themselves dancing up to 1:00 p.m. The spectators were all regaled by the simplicity of the ordinary occasion - in the market on a Sunday - that had been turned into a wonderful time. What a lively place this was.
People come here for different reasons - to hear mass, have a date, a Sunday meal with the family, to socialize, to go dancing or simply to shop.
This artist came with her paint supplies and started to paint the characters in the market.

This young girl kept her eyes on this young boy who came dressed up like Charlie Chaplin.
For the moms and dads, they could let lose their kids to have some fun in the playground, next to the church. 
The market is situated at  Place Contrescarpe, where rue Mouffetard meets rue de Lacepede. This is a pedestrian street, without much vehicular traffic...except for...
this street sweeper which promptly came as soon as the market vendors started to pack up.
Even when the market had closed at 1:00 p.m., the numerous restaurants and shops along this street and the side streets remained open.
 Trompe l'oeil on the exterior wall - this building stood out, as we were walking in search of a place to eat.

For those who did not want to bother with meal preparations at home, there were several places offering ready-cooked foods, to-go, such as these ones.
A Mediterranean selection of grilled and pickled veggies and a variety of olives
Lebanese cuisine

For the gourmet cooks, a specialty store for ingredients for their pasta recipes.

And always present in every market are the products the French can't be without, in the...

and the boulangerie/Patisserie. 

There are several wine stores here, too. The French always have a bottle of wine to pair with their meals, and another one with the cheese trays and desserts.

But for the majority of the weekend crowd, it was a time to spend in a nice restaurant setting -  in good company, with good food. There's a wide array of cuisines to choose from.
Greek food

 A taste of culinary specialties with influences from regional parts of France, and other European and Asian countries.

There are more restaurants serving full-course menus, bistros or cafés which serve simple meals; and brasseries serving hearty food in the side streets - this is rue du Pot de Fer.
The street has been almost taken over by the outdoor table settings, the preferred sitting by most, but no one is complaining. Anywhere you go in the city, when it's good-weather season, the restaurants' sitting areas extend to the sidewalks and the pedestrian streets, whenever possible.

Fondue/Raclette, anyone?

 For lunch, there are reasonable three-course meal deals from 
18 € - 25 €. 
 Some gelato at Gelati d'Alberto for that alternative, sweet ending to a meal, or, for those just strolling around. 

After looking around and reading the menus, we opted for Mexican food and walked back closer to the market area. Mexican bistros are not too common in this city. Whenever we find one, we always go and try them out. This one was good.

Give yourself some time to window shop, or, even shop. Some of the stores that open on Sundays bring some of their goods to the sidewalk, and even to the street, to attract the passers by.

This store was so attractively colorful that we just had to go in.

And, quite interesting was this bookstore specializing on travel.

Here we are at the other end. It's been a good 2 1/2 hours that we've been here. What a pleasant time it has been.
As we continued walking, we got to see the backside of the Pantheon - said to be the most perfect architecture in Paris. 

We decided to walk home and headed towards the Seine River. There is always something new to see, even in the old, familiar places. When you come to Paris, do remember that the best way to see this place is to walk and walk around here and everywhere.

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