Monday, February 24, 2014

Paris; Chinatown

About a month ago I went to Paris for a few days. Since I have a few friends that live over there I didn't have to pay for a place to stay. My friend Kelly and her girlfriend where working when I got there because I took the cheapest train ticket for that day, so I walked around quite a while. My first official stop was the Asian bookstore Le Phenix on Boulevard de Sébastopol. My second stop was obviously the Chinatown.

I had to take the subway and well Paris's subway is quite something! A true labyrinth under ground. I shall make a special post about it.

Anyways, I have decided I'd visit the Chinatown of every city I go to. Paris, Marseilles and Lyon (the three biggest cities of France) each have their own.

I got off at station Olympiades. When I arrived in the Chinatown, the first thing I saw were those red banners all over the place. It was the Lunar New Year and so it was written "Happy New Year" and wishes such as "Good Health", "Happiness" and much more everywhere (in French obviously).

I was very hungry (or should I say j'avais la dalle) so I sat in a Vietnamese restaurant for some pho. I didn't take pictures because I had all my stuffs with me and taking out my camera was a hassle more than anything. I was a bit disappointed, but it's kind of like in Montreal : not all Vietnamese restaurants are good. At least it wasn't bad but it was damn expensive. I had cha gio, a bowl of pho and che ba mau for 20€, or 30$. My poor wallet.

Since I had quite some time to kill and I needed to digest I started walking around and taking random pictures. They aren't exactly the best because Paris's Chinatown isn't as "walkable" as Montreal's. While the street De la Gauchetière in Montreal's Chinatown is closed to motorized circulation, Paris's Chinatown is drowned in cars. It's a lot less of a place to just chill and relax.

Despite the fact that there are cars everywhere and drivers are crazy ... speaking of crazy drivers, here's a little story. I accidentally dropped my lens cap on the ground while crossing a very small street. While I was trying to pick it up (I had a coffee in my left hand, my camera around my neck, my laptop bag on my side and my backpack on my back) some driver turns left to get into the street and starts honking at me when I was JUST starting to bend over to pick up the cap. I did as fast as I could, guy gets into the street ... which was a one way. Then he got honked at by another driver who was on this street (but going the right direction) and who needed to get out. There was a lot of shouting and insults from both side.

Where was I? Yes! Despite the fact that there are cars everywhere, there are a lot of places to eat, bakeries, stores, grocery stores ... pretty much like a regular Chinatown! Just an "unwalkable" Chinatown.

As you can see a lot of stores and restaurants use neon signs. Some of them actually abuse of neon signs. The two biggest grocery stores, Tang Frères and Paris Store even have signs on the street so you can see from far off on the street where they are.

It's also while walking in Chinatown that I discovered some pretty sculpture ... that is actually a fountain. From what I read and what I've seen there are many fountains like that in Paris and they distribute clean drinkable water. Since it's winter there is not water but I believe the fountains work during the summer. The one in Chinatown is a pretty bright red.

I mentioned earlier it was the Lunar New Year. A few grocery stores were celebrating on the street, making the neighborhood even more lively as the sun was setting down.

Obviously the Chinatown is more than just food and stores. There is a lovely public place in front of the Mairie du 13ième arrondissement, subway station Place d'Italie.

Okay there actually is a huge disgusting roundabout but that's typical to Paris. I don't remember how many of them I saw because they're just all over the city. Oh, while I was taking pictures, a group of young people my age asked me if they could take a picture of me with their giant monkey plushie. I still don't know the reason why they were doing it but apparently their goal was to take as many pictures as they could of their monkey with strangers. I thought it was kind of cute and funny.

And so that's it for today! I know I haven't been blogging a lot lately but that's because I've been going through some intense stuffs that have taken a lot of my time. But don't you worry for I should be able to post a bit more from now on.
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