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Sunday Brunch On The Oldest Market Street In Paris

Yesterday the sky was blue, the sun intense and the air crisp. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon to stroll down rue Montorgueil to market for fresh produce, meats or fish, take in the sights and stop for a lazy lunch.

If you’re not familiar with this part of Paris, it wouldn’t surprise me, but I urge you to make it a point to discover its charm. Rue Montorgueil is the oldest shopping street in the city running between rue Réamur and rue de Turbigo. It is pedestrian as are the many narrow streets that cross it and those parallel to it on the east including rue Saint-Denis, Paris’ red-light district.

This “quartier” has been enjoying a resurgence in the past few years as the Gay community has discovered it (and others, of course), have started to move into run-down properties and renovate them, and along the way have come new chic boutiques, cafés and restaurants.

From a property standpoint, this is now a great spot for an investment as we’ve seen real estate values escalate with the gentrification of the neighborhood. It is my estimation (or fantasy), that this beautification will naturally spill onto rue Saint-Denis upgrading this well-known seedy part of Paris.

At the northern part of the street, actually where it changes names for just a short stretch to rue des Petits Carreaux, is a chain restaurant called Le Pain Quotidien that is an old-fashioned style bakery with restaurant service. For a Sunday brunch, it’s the ideal spot — a multi-course brunch for 18 euro, breads, croissants, pastries, gourmet “tartines” (open-faced sandwiches), salads, soups. They make their own spreads for breads…chocolate, hazelnut, praline, honey, jams…and you can bet we tasted everyone.

The people-watching on rue Montorgueil is superb. The tourists haven’t yet discovered it on a grand scale and the local inhabitants are eclectic. For those of you who care more about history than ogling the crowds, here’s a brief snippet from “Paris Confidential,” our new guide book to Paris:

“The rue Montorgueil is the oldest market street in Paris and the Quartier Sentier is another place worth a look, especially for architecture enthusiasts. Printers, engravers, and designers had workshops here before the days of neon light. They came because the low skyline allowed strong clear light and a maximum of daylight working hours. Today you can see many examples of pre-electric architecture: studios and print shops with glass and metal domes or skylights. Along the rue Réamur, you will find excellent examples of late 19th-century commercial architecture where modern technique and academic ideas – including Art Nouveau – are combined.”

“For a taste of Medieval Paris walk the rue Française, the rue Tiquetonne, the Passage du Grand Cerf, and the rue Greneta. They are all just north of Les Halles where the 1st arrondissement meets the second at rue Etienne Marcel. Just off the rue Française at 20, rue Etienne Marcel, you will find the Tour Jean Sans Peur, a gothic 29-meter high Tower of John the Fearless built in the later 15th century so he could hide from his enemies. The tower is all that is left of l’Hôtel de Bourgogne, the home of John the Fearless. He would have been better remembered if the plaque at 31, rue des Francs Bourgeois was still in its place. The missing plaque read, ‘In this passage, an exit from l’Hôtel Barbette, Duke Louis of Orléans, brother of King Charles VI, was assassinated by John the Fearless, the Duke of Bourgogne, during the night of 23 to 24 November, 1407.'”

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. I’d like to welcome Sibel Pinto who will be interning here in the IL Paris Office a few days a week and from whom you may hear occasionally. She is a native of Istanbul, a linguist of many languages and a chef.

* Further resources:

* For your visa documents you may need professional Translation Services: French to English or English to French

* France: The Country Kit – an introduction in both words and pictures to this irresistible country.

* From the same author of Paris Confidential…the guide for Novelists, Journalists, Poets, Dreamers and Doers Alike!

* Take the tours of Paris with us…

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