We are into the triangle of
streets Poulet (chicken) and Poissonniers (fishmongers) and Boulevard Barbès -
within "la Goutte-d'Or" (the drop of gold) -- perhaps a genealogy chat is called
for here!! . . . .
In this triangle, the commerce is almost strangled. The fabric, cosmetic and
small markets trip over one another for business. But you could say “ça
marche” – it works.
Most of the stores are open Tuesday through Sunday between 0900 and 1930.
Just about every two shops in the triangle is a fabric store with African
style batik in vivid patterns and colors. But pay attention to the quality.
The fabrics from Holland are the best. The top of the line is Super Wax from
Holland (75€-80€ for six yards or 5,5 meters). The second in quality is True
Wax -55€ for six yards; Super Basin is 45€, Java - 40€. The fabric origin
changes with the Anglaise (English) at 30€; industrial batiks from Hong Kong
and China – very cheap are at the lower end. The fabrics are either tergal
(French synthetic) or cotton.
here to go to my weights and measures conversion chart).
Château Rouge is an area for food bargains at Marché Dejean: 4 kg (about 8
lb.) chicken 9,90€, 3 kg chicken 8€, 3 kg liver 7,65€, 5 kg short ribs 17€
(a kilo is about two pounds).
For cosmetic surgery without the surgery, Château Rouge is where you shop if
you want to lighten your skin from a box for 11,70€.
You want an inexpensive hotel room? It will costs between 24 and 39€.
good place to eat with atmosphere is Restaurant le Nioumre
(Senegal-African). Their specialty is “riz au poisson” (fish and rice).
The ginger juice 2,30€ is very interesting, it has a bite to it – share it
just to try it.
For an appetizer, Erik and I split an Accras de Morue 3,20€ spicy.
For the main course he chose Thiebou Dieune (rice and barracuda) 8,50€; I
chose the Mafe (lamb, rice and peanut sauce) 8€. Except for the ginger
juice, we drank Badoit (naturally bubbly water) for 1,90€. And our dessert
was Banane Aloco (plaintains) 3,20€.
Nioumre has simple Blue checkered tablecloths décor and a very
welcoming patron. The simple interior has bench seats covered in
Arab-motif fabric, illustrated African village scenes and ceiling fans.
returned a month later, and was still delighted with le Nioumre.
In fact, on my return, I was more relaxed and wanting to talk to the man on
the street (really the man in the mosque, the man in the shop, the tailor).
Across from le Nioumre is a simple mosque behind white concrete painted
walked past the mosque, on rue Myrha, returned to gape, left, and returned
again. This time Mr. Diakité (jakatay) invited me in.
Even though I was wearing a skirt to the knees that one man frowned upon, I
did happen to have a scarf around my shoulders. Mr. Diakité suggested I put
it on my head and take my shoes off my feet. And he proceeded to give me a
tour of the mosque and asked me to sign the guestbook.
While walking the side streets, I finally stopped in one of the shops with
an open door, fabric hanging in the window, and the sewing machine whirring
inside. The happy, bespectacled man was busy working on a lined dress
talking away to one of his buddies.
He told me that the design ideas come from magazines and pattern books. He
also told me that the women are tailors as well; I only saw the men.
of la Goutte-d’Or and the Chateau Rouge areas
The West Africans have come from sub-Sahara, Senegal and Cameroon and other
northwest African countries with ties to France.
The North Africans are from the Maghreb (a region in northwest Africa
consisting of Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia – but also Libya and
Mauritania). The Asians are here, islanders from the Antilles and Jamaica;
and those whose roots are in India have settled or work in this area.
Although this is a small part of Paris, when I step back and look, it is so
vast. Symbolically it covers so many nationalities – it is the face of
French colonialism. But its history goes back to the mid-nineteenth century
and Paris’ gentrification.
In the latter part of the 1800s workers came from the French provinces to
build Haussemann’s* Paris. They lived in the village of la Chapelle that
became part of the 18th arrondissement.
The area expanded when leftovers from the Haussemann buildings were used to
build inexpensive housing
The immigration exodus into this area continued in the beginning of the
twentieth century with the Belgians and Poles; followed by the Italians and
Spanish and the continuous stream of French from the countryside.
In the 1920s, the Kabyles – the Berber Algerians – arrived (at that time,
Algeria was still a department of France – not a colony).
The Algerians arrived after WWII to rebuild the war torn parts of Paris.
Eventually, the resistance movement that led to the Algerian war was formed
in the cafés of the neighborhood.
It seems that this wave would begin a continual tide of immigrants from the
Languages in “la Goutte-d’Or” area are as varied as the fabrics and places
of worship. If you are a merchant in this quarter, it helps to be
multilingual. The common language for all of the residents is French, the
popular African language is Niger.
However, if you are from the Kabyl-Algeria, Berber is your native language,
as well as classic Arabic.
The Chinese have their regional languages and dialects, but Mandarin allows
them to be widely understood here (it’s the same thing for the Chinatowns of
The West Africans (Senegal, Cameroon, Mali and the others) have their native
tongues and dialects.
It is hard to imagine, but it makes me wonder, what group will arrive and
survive in this area next when the Africans follow the previous order and
meld into the rest of the city and its changing appearance.
*Baron Georges Haussmann was a French administrator. During his term as
Seine Prefect (1853-1870) he directed the massive transformation of Paris’
neighborhoods, streets, and buildings.