I have the good fortune to be in Paris over the weekend, and stumbled upon the Rue des Martyrs (Street of Martyrs for those of us who don’t “parlez vous francais”). What a wonderful street! Vibrant colors, great smells from a variety of cafés, fantastic people-watching, actually, make that people-and-dog-watching, a myriad of store and tiny boutiques and, the most tempting to me, a marvelous array of food and flower shops. It was like an extended farmers’ market. What a great street for an afternoon walk on a beautiful April day in Paris.
Back at the hotel, I did some quick internet research on the Rue des Martyrs and found a review of a book that raves about this magic street even more than I did just now. Published in November of 2016, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, was written by Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times. Reviewer Sinclair McKay from the Telegraph (London) said in January of this year: “She argues with seductive force that here is where you will find the undying soul of the city; real Parisians from all walks of life – the “intimate, human side of Paris”, somewhere with ‘the feel of a small village’.
Yes! That’s exactly how it felt just now when I was traversing down this authentic, neighborhood-feeling street. I learned from the article that, along with 60 other streets / neighborhoods in Paris, the Rue des Martyrs is protected from ever having chain businesses move in.
If one artisan business moves out, it can only be replaced with another. Only the French would dare to try and hold back the ineluctable corporatist forces that have conquered the rest of us.
So of course I ordered the book from Amazon, of course I will go back to the Rue des Martyrs the next time in Paris armed with all of my new knowledge, and of course I took lots of photos to share with you. But just the food and flower shops – I have my priorities.
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