Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Party Place

I always love a good party, but the Place des Fêtes seems an unlikely setting for celebration.

One hundred & twenty-five years ago it hosted a bloody battle between the communards and the Versaillese. More recently, Place des Fêtes was the bleak backdrop for a stabbing in Paris je t’aime.

On Sunday mornings, however, red is joined by a host of other colors in Place des Fêtes. Hundreds of vendors and shoppers transform this architecturally-blighted corner of the 19th into a party worthy of its name.

When to go: The market also runs Tuesday and Friday mornings from 7:00-14:30, but go Sunday (7:00-15:00) for the real action. Arrive early for shorter lines and fresher pastry. Stay late for the best seafood deals in town.

What to buy: In October, buy mushrooms. A spore-only stand sells cépes on the cheap, along with girolles, lactaires and trompettes de mort. Apples and pears shine now, along with strange and seasonal stars like kaki (persimmon) and coing (quince). The cheese shop across from the Fun Guy is our choice. Check here for the best autumn cheeses. Finally, no trip to Place des Fêtes would be complete without a stop at the fish stand. In the last hour of business, all the food is divvied onto wax paper squares and accompanied by a song: “Red tuna, calamari - four euros! It’s crazy!!” And it is crazy, selling seafood for four under five.

Maintain a healthy blood sugar by snacking on accras de morue from the Caribbean stand or the spicy cheese Lebanese flatbreads. Shop around for the best prices on pain au chocolat, but don't blame Le Meg if you eat all five for two euros.

What’s around: Start your morning with coffee or brunch at La Pelouse, a revamped café at 86 rue Botzaris. After the market, stop in at Le Vin de Ma Vigne, a wine shop at 25 rue Fêtes. A guy doing his best Louis Armstrong voice on the grand piano will entertain while the owner prescribes an accompaniment for your sauce de girolles.

Before heading home to cook, take a nap or a pony ride in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It's just a stroll away down the rue de Crimée and the leaves there are currently on fire.

For a list of other outdoor markets in Paris, click here.

1 comment:

cookie said...

I was most definitely at the place des fetes market this morning, which is my favorite, not because it is so close to my apartment but because it is not swamped by tourists like some of the others here in Paris. I love to wander and people watch.
Isn't the best way ever to start a morning?