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Trip Report Paris III: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

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We come from New England where we have lived since 1977, though we are native Southerners. Currently, we divide our time between Nantucket, MA (home), Richmond, VA (Jan-April), and Brookline, MA.

What Are We? We are a retired couple who have been together for 50 years and married for 48. We were both from military families and moved frequently when we were growing up, a pattern we continued for the first fifteen years of our marriage. I spent part of my childhood in England, and my wife had extensive business relationships in the UK, so we have spent enough time there that it does not feel like being abroad. We have made trips to France every other year since the mid 1990's. We always spend time in Paris but have also spent time in Perigord and in Aix en Provence.

Where Are We Going? We are in Paris again this time for two weeks. Because we have seen most of the tourist sites, our trips have a different theme. For several years, we have worked on seeing gardens, and there are a lot of them. Wednesday, we are going to the Jardin Albert Kahn in Boulogne -Billancourt, a new one for us. Another ongoing theme is visiting markets. We have been to the covered market at Enfants Rouge, the Sunday Bio Market on Blvd Raspail, and a bunch of daily street Markets like Rue Cler and Rue Mouffetard.

This past Saturday, we went to the Marche d 'Aligre in the 11th because it combines a covered market, open market stalls, and a flea market. It is not simple to find from where we are staying, either on the map or from the bus, but it was fun, I resisted the junk, and the strawberries are delicious. Sunday, we went to the Marche Richard Lenoir, which is vast. I am 6'3" and still had trouble looking over the heads of the shoppers to see what was on offer. Among those things: three kinds of salt cod, horse meat, vegetables, fruits and cheeses of every sort. Eggs, chickens, chicken hearts by the kilo. Bread. Pastry. Candy. Clothing and scarves and gloves. Like Haymarket in Boston, these are not farmers markets. Though there is plenty of local produce and much of the best is seasonal, these are not farmers but retailers who go from market to market and buy in turn from wholesalers as well as (sometimes) suppliers. More markets!

Our final theme is that we try to stay in a different part of Paris every time. We started in the 5th, 6th, and 7th, then rented a couple times in the Marais near the Place des Vosges. Last time we stayed on the Rue Daguerre near Denfert Rochereau in the 14th. Why? Because we love the woman film director Agnes Varda, and she made two films about the street, where she still lives. Her films were set twenty years apart, and we came twenty years after the last one, so we were able to view the development of the street over 30 years.

This time we are spending two weeks in an ungentrified building on an ungentrified block in a rapidly gentrifying area in the 10th.. We can look out the window at the Quai Valmy and the Canal St Martin across the street and watch the incredible human parade up and down the Quai and into and out of the boulangerie across the corner or the bar beneath us. The 46 bus runs under our window, three Metro stations and the Gare de l'Est are only minutes away. There is a small Franprix at the top of the street and a bigger one two streets away. There are lots of places to eat, traditional and trendy, but the only chains are the Franprix, the banks and a Picard. The green grocers and butchers and fishmongers and hardware sellers are all local. The neighborhood is a mix of Bo-Bo's, students, computer jocks and lots of people living in public housing.

Over the next couple of posts, I will try to share some of the things we do, especially those that might
be useful to you. In no way do we think you should travel like us or live like us, nor do we think our neighborhood is more authentic than the 6th or that we are seeing "the real France." We are just going to share what we see in "the Brooklyn of Paris." It is starting, as London has for a long time, not to feel all that different from home. and we want to capture that while we can. But tomorrow, we are going to be tourists in Chartres, which our fixation on Paris has prevented us from seeing. Au revoir!

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