A Tribute to Women Making History in Paris
Legendary New York Daily News photographer, Harry Hamburg, who is on a first name basis with Presidents of the U.S. over the last four decades, expounded over dinner “chez moi” (yes, I actually cooked!) that he had discovered a new restaurant worth a try: Felicity Lemon in Belleville (20th).
The restaurant is aptly named for the street on which it is situated, rue Lemon, and for those who read and love Agatha Christie novels, Felicity Lemon was fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot’s secretary, who had few human weaknesses, and who he described as “Unbelievably ugly and incredibly efficient.”
Felicity Lemon, the restaurant, is a “cantine” by “Parisienne” Sylvia François that won’t bust your budget serving seasonal dishes “entrée” size (first course/appetizer, not second course/main dish as noted on U.S. menus), so that you can order several and taste to your heart’s delight. Margie Rubin, who does “Personalized Vacation Planning Tailored to Your Tastes” under the name of “Paris Your Way,” agreed to give it a try as part of our discovery of new, out-of-the-way and inexpensive dining adventures that we could both write about and pass on to lovers of Paris seeking a deeper experience.
While the meal was creative, interesting and delicious, at a very affordable price, what was even more fascinating was the immediate neighborhood, which, after all these years of visiting Belleville and dining in nearby restaurants (such as Lao Siam), it took an explorer like Margie Rubin to point out something of which I was totally unaware — rue Dénoyez. Sure, I had passed the café on the corner, Aux Folies (8 Rue de Belleville) dozens of times and never thought to venture down rue Dénoyez.
Here lies a world one wouldn’t know without someone like Margie to enlighten you…a graffiti artist’s heaven. It’s a cobblestoned pedestrianized street that runs only a short two blocks between rue de Belleville and rue Ramponeau passing rue Lemon. The storefronts are covered in graffiti — painted, collaged, papered, posted, you name it. It’s one of the few legalized “laneways” for graffiti in the city, “bringing a kaleidoscope of ever changing murals on its walls” (untappedcities.com/) — meaning that the art is forever changing by the artists and residents who keep the mosaic tile planters, walls and street elements awash in color and expression.
Discovering this hidden corner of Paris felt like being a tourist in my own city, from someone who is, perhaps, even more passionate about it than me. All three are worth discovering: Felicity Lemon, rue Dénoyez and Margie Rubin from Paris-Your-Way.
At lunch Friday, just-returned-to-Paris Florence Richburg introduced her friend as a “rock star,” although except for her stunning blue eyes, Kim Bingham was just as down-to-earth and personable as any North American in Paris. That evening, this “Montréalaise” singer/songwriter, who has performed with such legendary groups as “Me Mom & Morgentaler” and “Bran Van 3000” at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, performed at the Canadian Cultural Center to an SRO crowd. Playing an acoustic guitar she accompanied her musicians on some of her latest songs to introduce her new album, titled “Up!”
The concert was “WOW!” and we’re hoping Kim will come talk (sing) at an upcoming Parler Paris Après Midi! (I Hope to see you tomorrow, March 12th when David Burke, author of “Writers in Paris: Literary Lives in the City of Light” talks about Bad Boys and Bad Girls of Literature in Paris at Parler Paris Après Midi — 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. It’s free and it’s fun! Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.