Paris: Sunday stroll, Sunday market, Sunday dinner

Our walk on Sunday began at Place Monge, where there's a lively and colorful .
open-air market every Sunday. Um, did I say colorful?
at the florist's stall, at the mustard seller's, at the madeleine seller's, even at the scarf merchant's ....

Only the fish were grouchy, even the proximity of aromatic fresh herbs couldn't distract them from their imminent fate

The knife and scissors sharpeners were among the busiest guys at the market...
Knife and scissors sharpening and repair

Outside the market, we walked down Rue Monge. It's a shopping street, for real people, hardly a tee-shirt in sight, the small shops were all open and welcoming.

And we were amused and delighted to see French people standing in line, at the butcher, the pastry shop, the baker....

At the bottom of Rue Monge, the street opens into a small square.
This is not a modern sculpture, he's the local balloon-seller.

And in the open space, a small accordion band had set up, a diva was warbling, and people had put their groceries down to dance. I would have expected a waltz or a two-step, but the requests were all for sambas or tangos,

which I guess explained why, in the course of more generalized roaming, we had noticed so many little neighborhood bars or bars-à-vin advertising "Argentine nights" or "leçons de tango". This couple had some savage moves. I've always thought the tango is as much stylized marching as dancing; seeing it done on cobblestones in daylight made me decide to hunt up DVDs of movies showing Apache dancers in boites. Plus ça change...
The neighborhood's spring outdoor antiquités-brocante sale was in full swing after the little place with the band. Antiquités means more or less what you might expect; brocante is a more elastic term and encompasses a range: old stuff, vintage, second-hand. This type of sale is generally a cut above a neighborhood vide-grenier, an outdoor attic sale/tag sale/garage sale. The dealers at the antiquités-brocante are just that, dealers; at a vide-grenier (literally, empty the attic), it's mostly people from the neighborhood. The city of Paris restricts the size and frequency of these sales, so if you want to find one you need to look for posters or notices.

At this sale, you could furnish your apartment, redo your country place, bring your table service up to 24, and spiff up your wardrobe.

Oh, yes, and class up your boats....

I've never been able to resist really awful taxidermy. Prince deBroglie (he of the fabulous store in the 7th) had nothing on this dealer. Seeing me slow my pace, he (the dealer, not the Prince) asked if I was looking for anything special. "Une tête de sanglier," (a wild boar's head), I cheerfully replied. Alas, not in stock on the spot, but at a warehouse in the neighborhood, and available in only seconds. I pleaded a long-awaited lunch appointment. He understood. We decided to return by a different route, just in case.

And so, looking longingly at a gently used service for 36 and some dolls who needed a good home,

we refocussed, and headed down to the Blvd. Port-Royal for (midday) Sunday dinner at Au Petit Marguery.The entire neighborhood appeared to be having dinner with family, and I adored the elderly ladies perfectly coiffed, perfectly maquillées, and perfectly dressed in very good suits that had clearly been custom-made in the 50's or 60's. Petit Marguery gets a completely different crowd during the week, local businesspeople and academics tend to predominate at lunch, couples, student groups, and tourists at night, and the private dining room in the back is almost always full of cheerful eaters. We enjoy it both ways. They have wonderful game in season (generally fall), the cooking is bourgeoise rather than haute cuisine, and we've never left hungry, never left unhappy.

So -- the food. I started with sauteed girolles and snails with herbs and just a touch of garlic; Himself ordered wild frogs' legs sauteed with garlic and parsley, and if I hadn't practically thrown myself on his fork, we would not have had the charming picture to the left.

Moving on, I had sauteed pigeon (for a change), but very different from the refined dish of the night before; this was hearty, redolent of garlic and red wine. And he had a duck breast with nectarines, which came with (quelle surprise!) mashed potatoes.

Desserts were great: sorry, no pictures, too busy eating. He had a clafouti of cherries (pitted! take that, Julia Child), and I had a feuilletté of fresh raspberries and vanilla pastry cream.


  1. Hello:
    What an absolutely splendid way to spend a Sunday morning. Full of interest, fun, and entertainment. And then to follow it up with an excellent Sunday lunch seems to us to be near perfection.

  2. Jane and Lance, we look for markets and street events everywhere, if the weather allows. And luckily this time the weather cooperated.

  3. xoxo posted this comment last night, but Blogger seems to have swallowed it. Luckily it appears on the list of comments, which is how I was able to copy and share it:

    Of all the souvenirs, I'm sure a stuffed wild boar's head would inspire the most conversation. Although service for 36 would surely generate a story or two on how you got it safely home.

    xoxo, I'm no longer allowed to bring things home from travels. There are, as we say, real estate issues. le sigh.

    What fun to visit the markets and dance in the street. I am certainly enjoying your trip!

  4. Colorful way to spend a day! Although not this lively, I miss my single days living at a seaside "village" in SoCal. Love your food adventures ... envying the desserts especially here yum yum.


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