Friday, March 18, 2016

French Friday: Rue Montorgueil

Last week we visited Rue Cler, an open air market near the Eiffel Tower.

This week we will visit Rue Montorgueil, another market, about a ten minute walk from the Pompidou Museum.

While it is easy to view metropolitan cities as one large mass, they are really divided into small neighborhoods, each with its own personality, vibe, and feel. This is clearly evident in the Paris market areas. The same basic storefronts line the streets - the boulangerie, patisserie, fromagerie, fresh fruit stands, etc. - but each neighborhood shop exhibits a unique character.

I like Rue Cler because of the proximity to the Eiffel Tower and the daydream of purchasing a picnic lunch to eat in the Iron Lady's shadow. But Rue Montorgueil is a romantic step back in time.

Perhaps it is the cobblestone street that transports me to the late 18th century. While this is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, I imagine the sound of horse hoofs clopping along, pulling its carriage  behind.

Or perhaps it is the colorful shops with their elaborate displays, which entice casual shoppers to stop and inquire of the daily special. The fromagerie, with its array of cheeses and variety of crackers, suggests I should indulge in a wine-and-cheese pairing as a dinner option.

The aromas from the boulangerie are impossible to ignore. I promise myself I will only purchase one small baguette, but I am tempted to purchase more and add a bread-tasting to the wine and cheese supper.

Or perhaps I am taken with the number of families who are strolling the streets arm-in-arm discussing suggestions for weekend meals. The children are drawn to the colorful fruits and decadent pastries, the adults inspect the fresh-caught fish on ice at the poissonerie. Maman carries the string shopping bag, which expands to hold the morning's purchases.

There is no running on the streets today. There are no women dressed in three piece suits and tennis shoes hurrying to complete the daily shopping - one more chore to cross off the list.

Instead, there is a feeling of contentment. We are here because we want to enjoy the experience. We want to savor the moment, not put it behind us. We shop with our senses rather than a list: the colorful food, the fragrant aromas, the feel of the produce, the sound of lively conversation. We want to linger here, which is why we find an open table at an outdoor cafe, order an espresso, and watch the scene unfold before us.

One caveat: I visited this area early on Saturday morning, which probably explains the quaint, quiet experience. Many guidebooks talk about pedestrian congestion and delivery truck obstacles. There appears to be a different feel depending on the time and day of your visit.

The Market is open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00am to 6:00pm and Sunday mornings.

Next week we will briefly visit one more market, Rue Mouffetard.

A bientôt, mes amis!

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