A walk down memory lane… and a winner!

When I moved to Paris in the mid 1990s, I was supposed to be working on my PhD in French literature. I had no contacts there, no place to live (I stayed at a women’s foyer for the first month) and no job. The things we do when we are young and carefree, huh?

After about a month, I started looking for a studio apartment and the big question in Paris is WHERE? There are so many great areas to choose from. In the end, after two weeks of traipsing around the city looking at apartments, meeting possible room mates and feeling utterly confused, I ended up phoning my Belgian “mum”, Francine (I was an exchange student in the late 80s in Brussels and am still in touch with this one family to this day), who knows Paris very well to ask her opinion about Left vs Right Bank and I believe it was after this that I chose to rent a tiny studio apartment on the rue Tiquetonne in the 2nd arrondissement.

This particular rental was fraught with issues (imagine a crazy old landlord who would come into the apartment while you were out to “do some maintenance”… Uh huh…) but I fell in love with the area. Just around the corner was the magical rue Montorgueil which I had failed to really notice on my pre-rental visits to the area since they fell on Sunday afternoons when most everything is shut. Throughout the week, however, the place is alive and just screams “Paris” to me.

(Image courtesy of Le Quartier Montorgueil website)

Fortunately for me, my building had a kindly concierge who took pity on me and my stories of the crazy landlord and she pointed me in the direction of another (larger) studio in the same building (different staircase) that was for rent also. I ended up staying MUCH longer than I anticipated in that (still) tiny studio and when I eventually decided that it was time to have the toilet IN the apartment as opposed to down the hall, I stayed in the quartier Montorgueil. When I was in Paris a few summers in a row for my MA classes, I also rented apartments in the area and this recent visit was no exception.

On Christmas eve, on my way to the Palais de Tokyo for my magical ArtHome experience, I took a stroll down memory lane on the rue Montorgueil. Enjoy!

(Yes, Virginia, there ARE still horse meat butchers in Paris!)

Santas climbing up buildings seemed to be a bit of a theme this Christmas… I found it a bit odd.

LOVE this store! Much more fun than Home Depot!

I mean seriously – Laguiole knives?

Cast iron cookware? What’s not to love?

The Parti Socialiste is alive and well on the rue Montorgueil!

See? Isn’t that just the slightest bit creepy?

And EVERYONE was dressed up as Santa in the stores!

My newsagents…

Santa riding a cow in the fromagerie!

And again with the Santa hats!

My friend Nicolas!

Au Rocher de Cancale as featured in this post.

Et hop! There he is again!

Seafood and Santa.

And all sorts of jolly poultry for the festive season.

Stohrer. Founded in 1730 and arguably Paris’ oldest patisserie. The Queen was a notable visitor here in 2003.

These multicoloured trees were another decorating feature this year.

Sigh! There you have it – just a little taster of what my life was like when I lived there, what I was surrounded by and what I got to take a a “normal” shopping experience. I highly recommend this area and if you are heading to Paris, I have the names of a number of places for rent around here that I can vouch for. There’s nothing like immersing yourself in one of the daily markets/ market streets to really get a feel for the area.

Last but not least today, the winner of the Le Creuset giveaway was comment number 12:

Congratulations to Julie@savvyeats who said “I love Le Creuset! And, cobalt blue is my wedding color, so this is perfect!”

Please email me (link in my profile on this page) with your address and I will send it on to the good people at Cookware.com. Enjoy!

24 thoughts on “A walk down memory lane… and a winner!”

  1. Sigh…I loved every single photo. I spent two weeks in Paris last April and can't wait to go back. It must have been wonderful to live there and have time to explore the city. Thanks for taking us along on a little tour.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing these pictures, what a great virtual tour! I can't wait to visit Paris, we hope to finally go this summer. Happy New Year!

  3. Pfffft, everyone knows Santa doesn't ride cows or buy oranges! Imposters!

    Isn't it a weird feeling to walk streets that were once your home, and take in all the things that are different and those that haven't changed at all? Bonus points if you spot a local crazy person who is still doing the rounds.

  4. Wonderful photos! We just wanted to wish you and Neil a very Happy New Year! Cannot wait for your trip to NYC so that we can get together again for more foodie adventures!

  5. I lived on Rue Montorgueil as well, nice street but very noisy! :o) of course the shopping is great, and I miss all the épiceries that I cannot find in the US.

  6. Great post, again. I haven't been to Paris in more than a decade, but you are enticing me back to my old favorite city to visit. And… are you planning a trip to NYC? I'll meet you too, if it's not too presumptuous of me. We eat verrrry well.

  7. oh mardi, your pictures are gorgeous! simply beautiful. i want to go to paris with you one day, to see your paris.

  8. Hi gang – Mr. Neil is back. I know I've been absent…unlike Mardi, when I travel I'm sans BB or mobile or laptop. For me, that equals work. Also, "shutting down" is part of the vacation escape experience, for me. Besides – you think I could pry the laptop away from Mardi for three minutes? Not a chance… 🙂

    Having said that, I do feel I missed all the posts – will be interesting to see what I was in fact DOING whilst away. 😉 Though I believe there's at least one post that deserves a rebuttal, hmmm….

    On this, I LOVE the neighbourhood. It feels like my Parisienne home away from home now, too: and I've only been there a half-dozen or so times (??). While Roncesvalles is no Montorgueil, it does have that "high street" aspect I enjoy so much.

  9. I am now STARVING, what beautiful pictures and it must have been so nostalgic for you!

    Hapyp New Year my friend!

  10. Thanks so much for the photos, it's almost like I got to go with you! I am hoping to go to Paris in Fall with hubby and renting an apartment sounds lovely! Happy New Year!

  11. Cathy – you're welcome!

    5 Star – how exciting! You must get in touch so I can make some recommendations!

    Conor – what I LOVE about my old 'hood is that there is a LOT that is still the same, years later. And no, Santa does not buy oranges – he sells them!

    High Low – thanks and you too! Can't wait for May!

    Natalie – thanks so much – still working my way around the new camera…

    Chow and Chatter – we did indeed!

    ptsaldari – thanks for reading and following along.

    citron et vanille – I always make sure to get flats qui donnent sur la cour so it's not too bad noise wise!

    Emily – sorry! 😉

    Kablooey – can't wait to meet you in person – I emailed you.

    Penny – you must get in touch for some ideas of places to go before you do!

    Best Family – well you know I think you might need a translator and a nanny for those girls…

    Divina – thanks!

    Neil – uh huh

    Evelyne – it was a bit nostalgic, yes… and Bonne Année à toi aussi!

    Dawn – oh so much fun to go back with your hubby! Email me for recommendations re: apartments…

  12. Beautiful pictures. I love seeing how Santa is interpreted in other cultures. Although hanging from the balcony is a little creepy ;).

  13. Unplanned Cooking – yes, I totally agree re: the creepy factor!

    Sandra – thanks, it was fun to write up!


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