Rue Sainte-Marthe

 
 

Recently, my neighbor said he hadn't crossed the river in fifteen years. I thought he was joking, but sometimes I'll mention something I think Parisians should know- like Square Gardette or Rue Crémieux- and nobody's heard of it. An unsettling number of people I meet visit Pasco or Le Tourville for a night out. When shopping, they head to Le Bon Marché, if they're feeling adventurous. It's not limited to our neighborhood, either. French people often ask me for directions, and when I ask where they're from, reply, "Paris." My friend Joanna says people think, since I'm a tourist, I explore streets and sights longtime residents don't normally visit (my own husband never went to the top of the Eiffel Tower).  "Parisians don't know Paris," says my husband's friend Emmanuel. "They stick to their little area, and that's all they understand."

 


Because we're developing these tendencies ourselves- lately, anything further than Beaugrenelle is too much for me- my husband and I make it a point to wander less-touristy neighborhoods on weekends. Don't worry, I'm not trying to turn this into a photo blog! I just thought it might be helpful to share some of our favorite places.

Start at Square Juliette Dodu, where you can grab a bento from  gluten-free, paleo food truck Chasseurs Cueilleurs. Walk up Rue Saint-Maur to Rue Jean-Marie Moinon for dedicated gluten-free, organic atelier Papy Bio, which offers two-hour macaron, baguette, or pizza-making classes, using authentic Italian methods. He was standing on the street when I took these pictures and teased me for being a tourist. "All the buildings are cute and colorful," I protested. He pointed a street over, to Rue Sainte-Marthe. "C'est mieux," he said.

  

Rue Sainte-Marthe is an explosion of color. Brazilian, Mexican, and Jamaican restaurants with brightly painted storefronts sit side by side with artist studios and hot dog stands. On one end, you have Lula, a concept lifestyle shop and restaurant offering gluten-free brunch every Saturday, to rave reviews. A little further down is La Tête dans les Olives, which turns into a one-table restaurant every night, with a waiting list of a month or more. The owner, Cedric Casanova, makes delicious gluten-free foccacia and sources amazing ingredients from Sicily, supplying Chambelland, Alain Ducasse, and the Plaza Athenée with food. Last time we went, he made us sample generous spoonfuls of olive oil before filling our bottle from the tap. We washed everything down with fresh-squeezed lemonade, buying basil flowers and green oranges, unpackaged in our own produce bags.

Across the street, at 5 Rue Sainte Marthe, is an artist's atelier straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Ring the bell to discuss meubles sur mesure- colorful robotic mobiles, mechanical fish, oversized chess tables, etc. Past Place Sainte Marthe, Geneviève de Divonne's Ebénisterie sainte Marthe offers beautiful, custom wood furniture and restoration services, supervised by the resident black cat. There are restaurants, record stores, and good places for rhum punch here, and the entire street gets decked for Fête de la Musique.

  

Set between Canal Saint-Martin and Belleville, Rue Sainte-Marthe is the perfect jumping off point to explore the last authentic neighborhoods in Paris. For my favorite addresses by arrondissement, click here. For gluten-free metro and guide maps, click here and here.

P.S. The lady in the Tête dans les Olives picture? Super expensive Levi's jean skirt, Maison Bonnet glasses, and vintage Hermès bag, which- correct me if I'm wrong- seems like a pretty typical outfit for that neighborhood. Those streets were originally constructed for workers. It's funny to see how gentrification changes things. She was insufferable, by the way, and stepped on an elderly woman's foot on her way out. Poor Cedric looked relieved when she finally left, though he was too nice to say anything about it!

Paris to Go

11 comments:

  1. hey, ariana,

    how are you? i just love the way you choose to talk about various subjects in your blog. they're all equally interesting and make your blog colorful and good fun! please keep doing it! i especially like this post, cause it's about my quartier <3 i live right up here dans le 10eme, juste à coté rue sainte marthe. never been to le tête dans les olives, but i'm planning to pass by tomorrow ;) have a good weekend!

    love, ana

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    1. Hi Ana! Ah, if you have any places you like in that neighborhood, please let me know! I love to visit your beautiful and colorful quartier, but I feel I never have time to explore it properly. Thanks for sharing, have a good weekend as well :)

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    2. hello, ariana! i'm not such a spot-finder like you, but i'll keep my eyes wide open to see if i can pick some good stuff around here to tell you ;) by the way, last weekend i went to rue crémier after you wrote about it, i had never been there. i just love it, it's so adorable, et il faisait trop beau! there were people sitting around tables in the street, just as you told, some girls were being photographed jumping in the air, it was this whole fresh air and cool atmosphere. i so want to come back more often and show this petit bijou to my friends. thanks so much for you tip <3
      love, ana

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    3. Ana, I am so happy to hear you liked it! I love exactly that- the atmosphere- I hope your friends love it too :) xxoo! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. My husband and I have lived in Paris every summer for the past 18 years. From the pictures, it looks like we're neighbors. We go to Pasco at least twice a month when our friends choose the restaurant. It's a fabulous place, but I agree with you, and since we're only in Paris a short time every year (looking to change that when my husband retires next year), I'd love to venture out of the "comfort zone" every now and then.

    I may be too old for Rue Sainte-Marthe, though. It looks colorful and beautiful but I might look out of place, like that man in the first picture!

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    1. Aw, I'm sure you won't feel out of place. I think he didn't! Recently this article said locals think of restaurants they perceive visitors want to eat at, and David Lebovitz said this is the case with French people, which may be why your friends choose Pasco?

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/travel/live-facebook-chat-how-to-eat-on-a-budget-while-traveling.html?rref=travel&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Travel&pgtype=article&_r=0

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  3. She was insufferable, by the way, and stepped on an elderly woman's foot on her way out.
    I love your blog!
    Elissa

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    1. Hi Elissa! You are so nice :) Unlike that lady! My husband was so annoyed by her. The owner of the shop and the elderly woman were really patient with her though!

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  4. Hi Ariana, I love your zero waste and wardrobe posts! It's the biggest reason why I read your blog, oh and of couse the gluten free/vegan ones. Looking forward to more to come. You have inspired me to simplify my life, get rid of most of my cosmetics and stop using/buying plastic. Best!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth! Thank you so much! I just did a gluten-free vegan zero waste post today... I hope to do more wardrobe posts soon :) I have one on laundry just hanging out in the drafts folder that I can't seem to get around to finishing. Thank you again!

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  5. I lived at number 4 when I first came to Paris in 2001. It was super bohemian - in parts great and in parts shady (the tenant across the courtyard was a total voyeur and I ended up having to keep the curtains shut all the time). The whole area has changed a lot since then!
    Still love your blog - hadn't been too look at it for a while but there's some great posts here. Did you receive the magazine btw??? I hope so!

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