Marché Bastille

I’ve been meaning to write about this market from the first day I moved into my apartment. The day I arrived in Paris, the realtor said I was so lucky to be living in this neighborhood as one of the best open air markets in all of Paris was held right around the corner from me. At first I was hesitant to believe this, and after the first few weeks of gloomy weather in Paris, the market didn’t seem all that great to me. Then, these past few weeks, as spring has started to come out from behind the clouds and I’ve visited more markets around the city, I’ve come to realize just how truly amazing my corner marché really is.

I think what really amazes me the most is how much produce you can get for so little money. I will walk away with bags of apples, pears, cucumbers, carrots, onions, some spices and perhaps a baguette having only spent 10 euro max! I like to walk over to the market with only a limited supply of change to see how far I can stretch it. I usually do an entire circle of the markets before deciding on my purchases so that I can see what looks best and get the better deal.

The best part about walking through the markets, besides the obvious visual pleasing foods, is the sounds and smells. On one side of the market towards, towards the Bastille roundabout, there are many Middle Eastern vendors, hawking their wears at dirt cheap prices. The sounds of “UN EURO UN EURO POUR UN KILO” is heard often and they are always offering my slices of clementines. Seriously, I’m only ever offered clementines – what about an apple slice?

As you walk further north, you see the more mom and pop type stands that clearly have their regular customers. Lines at these places can often be quite long as each customer is given as much time as they need to pick out their foods. I don’t often buy so much from these vendors as they tend to be a lot more expensive. 

In regards to smell, huge chicken roasters are found on every aisle and as the weather gets warmer, the flowers are becoming more and more beautiful every week. While the market happens twice a week, once on Sundays and once on Thursdays, Sunday is definitely the better day to go. There are more vendors our in general on Sundays and there is just a bit more of a livelier atmosphere as more people have time to shop on the weekends. 

I love walking past the fish stands. Huge trays of ice sit out holding countless types of fish and sea creatures. Oysters and mussels are quite popular and many merchants just have huge baskets of them sitting right on their tables, all that much easier for picking through. I don’t eat oysters or mussels myself, but they’re quite interesting to look at.

I always try to grab a box of eggs as half a dozen organic eggs is half the price as at the supermarket. I’ve yet to get any cheese as I’m always intimidated to order as I never quite know what I want and I don’t know how much one orders.

 I do hoard nuts and dried fruits from the spice vendor. One of the guys there knows me now and always makes fun of me for taking so long as I never know what I want at first. I bought a few spices last week and forgot to label them right away, so I’m sitting with either curry or turmeric in my cabinet, can’t remember which.

La Marché Bastille takes place every Sunday and Thursday. This is the most amazing place to go and do some excellent people watching. All sorts of fascinating characters come out to the markets. You can buy just about anything you would ever need – fruit, veggies, meats, fish, bread, cheese, and of course…some socks!

The Bastille Eclair

I’m realizing that in my pursuit to eat all the eclairs in Paris, I’m going to have a hard time writing about the shops that they come from because most patisseries here don’t have their own name. They just say Patisserie or Boulangerie out front. I guess I’ll just refer to the area from what it comes unless the store has its own name.

Anyway, this was my first eclair since the best one at Stohrer (actually, it’s not my first since then, but the first one that’s been worth writing about. Even in Paris you can find a really bad eclair). Right around the corner from me on Rue de La Roquette, is a very cute little patisserie that actually has an extensive display of pastries and breads for just being the corner bakery. I call it the Bastille eclair as you are stones throw away from the Bastille roundabout when you walk up to this patisserie.

I’ve had some bread from here before, but never anything else. After buying some produce at the market the other morning, I went inside to grab a croissant for breakfast. Needless to say, I walked out with 2 croissants and an eclair, since it looked so delicious.Since I had yet to have breakfast, I restrained myself and waited until I got home and had my croissant and coffee before I decided to take a bite out of the eclair. To start, it was definitely on the bigger side of eclairs that I have seen, making it all that much more alluring. I have to figure that getting anything this early in the morning means it has to be somewhat fresh, don’t you think? 

Right after my first bite, I knew that this was a decent eclair, but no where near the level of the Sthorer eclair, which all eclairs will now be compared to. While the pastry cream inside was good, although not quite as rich as I would have liked, the choux dough could not hold it’s own. Yes, I agree that the choux dough should be light, but this was just too light and flaky. As I’ve said, I had some bad eclairs here in Paris, so this definitely was not in the bad category, just not in the perfect category. Since this patisserie is just around the corner, I would certainly go back to grab another one, or maybe even try some of the other yummy things they had on display, but for now, I shall continue to sample more eclairs!!!

Goodbye Marseille, Hello Paris!

With a heavy heart, I left Marseille this morning to start a new adventure in Paris. Charlotte and I have been together for 2 and 1/2, so it was very sad to say goodbye to each other, but with 21st century technology, I know we’ll keep in touch more than we probably do even when we live in the same city. Coming to Marseille was the perfect way to start my time in France. I got to speak a lot of French, eat a lot of really good food, and be part of a French family for 10 days. It was wonderful! Charlotte’s grandma has already invited me back!

By the way – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can you believe it’s 2012 already? I was ready for 2011 to be over and am ready to move on with my life again post-cancer. Char, her brother, her cousin, and I went to a fun little party out in the country where we had wonderful dinner, hung around, and just partied into the New Year. Waking up on New Years Day was amazing – it was literally 60 degrees outside, if not more. I was so beautiful and wonderful way to spend my last day in Marseille.

Once again, the TGV never ceases to amaze me. It’s just so fast! I successfully navigated the metro from Gare de Lyon with two backpacks and one shoulder bag, got stuck in the turnstile once, and made my way to my apartment, which is in the 11th arrondissement. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Paris metro is not as scary as I had anticipated. I think I had this fear that since I know the New York subway so well, learning anything new would be impossible. But not so! I made my way to David’s apartment to pick up my stuff without a hassle and he helped me get a Navigo pass, which is an unlimited metrocard with my picture on it! Next task will be to the know the Paris metro as well as I know the New York one.

I am so happy with my apartment! It was a little daunting walking up the four flights of stairs at first, but it’s well worth the haul. Bringing my suitcase up the stairs was genuinely one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I vow to never carry anything more than 20 to 30 pounds up again without help for fear of slipping and falling. I’ve only done a little bit of snooping around my neighborhood, but so far, it seems pretty awesome. I went out and bought a bit of food and tonight I think I’m going to stay-in, unpack, and enjoy my new digs! Much more to report tomorrow and this coming week as I get to know the area 🙂

Here’s the kitchen, with the stove that I so desperately wanted: 

Living room with pull out king-size couch:A view from above:

My bed, which is up a ladder (hopefully I won’t tumble down ;-): 

Huge closet (I think it’s a sign I need to go shopping):