Rue, Faubourg, Boulevard, Bis - Market Walk on rue du Faubourg St. Denis (Part I)


Africa, India, China - it was as if I traveled to the far corners of the earth without leaving the 10th arrondissement this morning. In spite of the tantalizing smells of kebabs, curry and roasting chicken wafting through the air, Françoise Meunier immediately captured our attention by asking if anyone knew the difference between "rue", "faubourg" and "boulevard". As we hemmed and hawed, the guide of the WICE Market Walk explained:

Rue - Designates streets that were within the ancient walls of Paris. The remnants of the old walls, like this one in the 5th arrondissement, are tangible reminders of how much the city has grown since Philippe Auguste fortified Paris at the end of the twelfth century.

Faubourg - Literally "false village", it indicates an area that was outside the original city limits.

Boulevard - Some of the broad boulevards for which Paris is famous date back to the late seventeenth century when they were constructed during the reign of Louis XIV. From 1850-70, Baron Hausmann continued to build a network of wide avenues according to the modernization plan of Paris commissioned by Napoleon III.

After explaining that street numbers in Paris start at Notre Dame, also known as kilometre zero, Françoise explained the meaning of bis when it follows the number in an address.

Bis - If someone tells you to meet them at 40 bis rue de Rivoli, it means that the original building (40 rue de Rivoli) was divided into two smaller buildings and that the additional building required another number. Rather than use the designation 40 1/2, bis is used to mean "encore" or "repeat".

I'll share the addresses of the restaurants and stores that we visited in a future post, but in the meantime, here are a couple of photos of some of the food that we saw during the Market Walk on rue du Faubourg St Denis.

Click here to read about the Market Walk near Les Halles.

According to Françoise, most of the potatoes sold in Paris have already been cleaned with a machine.
It's preferable to buy potatoes with a little dirt on them because they last longer. 
Even though I use pre-cooked beets on a regular basis, many people don't know what they are when they first encounter them at a market or grocery store. They're delicious in salads (beets, goat cheese and walnuts!) and are very healthy for you. Just be sure to remove the peel before using them. It slips right off. 
Françoise said that it's best to buy artichokes with long stems because the stores cut them on a daily basis.
The longer the stem, the fresher the artichoke. 
The cows' feet at a Halal butcher reminded me of the prank calls that my mother used to make to the butcher when she was a child. "Do you have pig's feet?" "Yes, I do." "Wear shoes and no one will notice!" 
The man with amazing mangoes on rue du Faubourg St. Denis. Even though I bought a box to share with Stephane, he'll be very luck if there are any left when he returns from England tomorrow evening. They're easily the best mangoes that I've had outside of Asia.








Comments

  1. I love rue Faubourg St Dennis. We used it regularly when we stayed on the nearby rue D'Aboukir several times. Although Montorguiel is wonderful. I loved the grittiness and ethnic diversity of Foubourg St Dennis

    Great tips for buying vegetables Mary Kay Michael always says Pakistani mangoes are best. He buys boxes of then but they don't last long here either! Love Denise from Bolton

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    1. Now I have to go back and get more mangoes, Denise! The ones that I bought were from India but there were Pakistani mangos (on the left in the photo) next to them. A mango tasting is in order!

      Guess what I bought in one of the Indian stores? Black soap. It reminded me of our adventure at the hammam. Some of the other women teased me that my skin might turn an odd color after using it. So, don't be surprised if I'm green the next time you see me. Either that or I'll be as soft as a baby!

      Has Michael tried mangoes from the Philippines? They get my vote for the best ones.

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  2. Thank you for this post Mary Kay. This is the first time I have understood an explanation of 'bis' as used in a street address. It all makes sense. And beets...one of my favourites!

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    1. As a fellow tennis fan, you might like knowing why there is an 18 and an 18 bis but not a number 19 in the women's locker room at Roland Garros. Clue: it has something to do with Steffi Graff.

      There's a photo and the story half way down in this blog post.

      The odd thing about beets is that they're the only food that I can remember really not liking. One time, I even had to stay at the dinner table after the rest of my family to finish my beets. I really couldn't do it and was so thankful when one of my brothers helped me. Now I love them.

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  3. Fauburg or faubourg--does it make a difference? Honestly, I've never seen it without the "o", have I?

    And the skins of beets will slip right off after you've roasted them, not when they're uncooked; but Baron Akers may just peel them and eat them raw (being Australian and all).

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    1. Oh, Joseph! Your gentle comment made me realize how many typos I made in this post because I wrote it while trying to get tickets for the RG final. Thanks.

      I searched your blog because I'm fairly sure that Baron, you and I already expressed our different opinions about the way to eat beets. I'm with the Aussies because I love them raw or in juice. I also like them roasted but never get around to actually doing it.

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  4. Love the market pics! Do you know what days of the week it is there? I wouldn't mind some of those mangoes...

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    1. Sorry, the words "Market Tour" are a bit of a misnomer because we visited stores and restaurants that are open every day. So anytime you feel like getting some good mangoes, you can hop on the metro and head over to Rue Faubourg St. Denis. I can't remember if you're close to the number 9 line. If you are, take the metro to Strasbourg-St.Denis.

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  5. Such interesting information!! I never knew any of the meanings behind those words. Thank you. And I buy artichokes all the time so the long-stem tip is helpful.

    I don't know what it is about pigs feet or cow tongue that just gives me the heeby-jeebies! Luckily I don't go to the butcher near us that has them overly on display.

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    1. I'm really pleased that our guide started the walk with the new-to-me info about the terminology for streets!

      Now that you've explained Instagram to me, perhaps you can tell me how to prepare artichokes. I've never made them at home.

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  6. Wonderful explanation of these terms. I found the derivation of "Faubourg" particularly colorful, as it further encourages me to contemplate the centuries of human history squeezed into every square foot of that remarkable City!

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    1. Yes, I love the feeling of being surrounded by human history. There's something reassuring and timeless about it. One thing I didn't mention in the post is that there used to be quite a few hospitals in the area around rue du Faubourg St. Denis, including one for lepers. Our guide also explained that covered passageways (there will be photos of Passage Brady in an upcoming post) are only found on the right bank of the Seine because of their association with commerce and not on the intellectual left bank.

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  7. So according to your post where is the street pictured at the top. Within old city limits or out of old city limits? (Rue du Faubourg St. Denis)

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    1. The rue du Faubourg St Denis was originally outside of the city walls.

      From Wikipedia:

      The rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis owes its name to the fact that it is an extension of the rue Saint-Denis to the faubourg or area outside Paris's walls (as marked today by the Porte Saint-Denis). It also marked the eastern boundary of the enclos (later prison) Saint-Lazare.

      Historically, this street was an extremely upper-class area, occupied by jewellers and textile merchants, since it was part of the king's processional route to the Basilica of Saint Denis. After the French Revolution the street briefly bore the name rue du Faubourg Franciade in 1793 (with the portion between rue Saint-Laurent and place de la Chapelle being renamed rue du faubourg Saint-Lazare and rue du faubourg de Gloire).

      If you would like to see the evolution of the walls around Paris, here's a fairly good map:

      City walls of Paris

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  8. Very interesting information! It's these little nuggets I love learning to throw around at a cocktail party and (hopefully) impress French guests =)

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    1. Yes, isn't it gratifying when you can throw out something that the locals don't know! I guess it's because it always feels as if they know so much more than me about other French related topics.

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  9. And I love your mother's sense of humor--we used to love doing those silly calls too, but I never had heard the pig's feet one.

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    1. The strange thing is that my mother always seemed fairly serious, or maybe she had to be with 5 children. In any case, it was a real revelation when she told me that she made pranks calls when she was a child. Who would have thought!

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  10. Amazing! I love your life :)

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  11. Can't wait for Part II! This is my Street, and am very sad about how bobo it's becoming (passage / cour des Petites Ecuries is flat out yup). And thank you lots for the most excellent morsel about why covered passages are only along the commercial right bank -- what fun to know!

    As for beets, which are the few food I remember hating as a kid as well, I also love them shredded and mixed with plain Greek yogurt.

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    1. You're lucky to live on such a lively street. Our guide, a longtime resident of the area, also expressed remorse that it's becoming bobo. She said that some of the people who live there now will probably have to move as rents become too expensive.

      I'll let you know when I post Part II. It will be interesting to hear your feedback and additional suggestions.

      The beets with Greek yogurt sound good - the dish must be a pretty shade of pink.

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