We arrived in Paris yesterday evening, exhausted after a day of walking and picnicking at Richmond Park, taking our Eurostar train journey to Paris, and finally doing two trips to get our luggage up five flights of stairs to our AirBNB.
Our Paris apartment is spacious with a large lounge, two double bedrooms, and good sized kitchen and bathroom. Its eclectic decoration indicates an owner with funky, arty tastes and a slightly naughty sense of humour. Both bedrooms are spacious, with tall windows that open to views of the street and Grand Rex Cinema on the corner.
We’re here for the next seven nights. We plan to spend the week exploring various areas of Paris, with Tuesday and Thursday committed to visiting Versailles and the Louvre respectively.
Today, a Sunday and our first full day in Paris, we spent exploring and buying supplies from local stores in the Montorgueil Market area. It was a great opportunity to use some of the French I’ve been learning at night classes for the past two terms. I think we both did ourselves proud for at least attempting to speak French, and got a good response from most of the busy shop keepers.
First order of business was to grab a couple of coffees from Starbucks. “Bonjour! Deux cafe mocha, s’il vous plaît?” She then asked what size. Oh, medium we said in English. Ah well, at least she understood what we wanted. Then I asked, “S’il vous plaît, cash machine?” She got her English-speaking colleague to help us with that one. At the end of the road, he said. We actually found one across the road.
Coffees and cash in hand, we walked down Rue Poissonniere to Montorgueil Market. One of the oldest market streets in central Paris, it is one of the few reminders of the Les Halles covered market area before it was replaced in 1975 by a boring concrete shopping mall. Some of the buildings housing the restaurants and shops that line this pedestrian street have been there since the turn of the last century.
Taking my tutor’s advice we entered each shop with a cheery “Bonjour”. If we had to queue, we used that time to decide what we wanted, work out what the French words for it might be, and practice asking for it in French on each other. Occasionally we got a question back in French, only some of which we understood. The shop assistants were mostly patient with us, often seeing us struggling. They’d then ask the question again in broken English, or get one of their English-speaking colleagues to repeat it instead.
We visited a marchand de legumes (fruit and vegetable shop), two boucheries (butchers), a boulangerie (bakery), a patisserie (cake shop), a fromagerie (cheese shop), and finally a supermarche (supermarket) – where we bought two bottles of local white wine, milk, olive oil, honey, Coke, juice, and haircare products. We probably spent about €100 but we’re now well stocked for the week.
I’ve never had more fun buying groceries. I’m so proud of myself and Michayla for at least attempting to speak some French. Each time we tried, we got a little more confident. Buying food is a great place to not only practice your French nouns, but also your French numbers. Listening for and understanding the price in French was often the hardest part. But the ladies at the tellers were also pretty patient with us.
In most of the shops, such as the boucherie (butcher), boulangerie (bakery), patisserie (cake shop), or fromagerie (cheese shop), you joined one queue to order your items, then another queue to pay for them, then back in the first queue to present your receipt to collect them. Typical French efficiency for you!
Credit: Michayla Clemens
Towards the end of the market we discovered two rival pizza places directly opposite each other, their shop assistants standing out front offering tasters of their truffle pizzas. Both samples were délicieux! We may pop back for lunch on one of our days out.
Here’s a couple more photos Michayla took during our shopping expedition!