Looking Around at Food, Sort Of

Lux Bar
If you want to move back to the old days, move to the Lux Bar.

At the Marché in the rue Lepic

Paris:- Friday, 28. November 1997:- Somebody asked me the other day if there were places in Paris I haven't been. The answer is yes.

There are also places I've been to and only partially reported on, because they had more interest to them than could be put into one feature - and I have to consider that I may be condemned to doing this for years, so if I leave some details out, I can always go back and 'do' them again, without repeating myself too much.

But now that this gig has gone beyond a year and old seasons are rolling around again, they need to be done, and done new - otherwise I could just put in a hypertext-link and let you read last year's effort.

Although a lot of people say they don't care for Christmas hoopla; they do go ga-ga over it. For me it is pure 'Bah Humbug' and I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole before 24. December - if I wasn't doing this Metropole fiddle.

Because I am, I feel responsible to all fake 'Bah Humbug' readers; to provide truthful reports about 'Christmas in Paris' and how the Parisians 'do it' and blah blah blah. (You see, the 'Humbug' is slipping through. I will try to zip me.)

A lot of Christmas is food and drink, which kids hate; and what kids like, toys, adults hate. There is a good reason for this, but I will go into it later; today is supposed to be 'food.'

M-R tells me there is a marché in the rue des Martyrs; up from métro Pigalle. So I am coming out of the métro Abbesses. Without the leaves, it is one of the two remaining métro exits with the Guimard horse butcher art nouveau fan-lights and I agonize over taking a photo of it. It is raining and it is colder than it's been lately.

After consulting the handy map in the métro I know to turn left into Abbesses and rue des Martyrs is only a short distance away and I quickly learn that the problem with it is, it has no marché.

If you care for horse meat, this is one of the few places you can still get it in Paris.

I remember then, one time I had the intention of going all the way around, up the rue Lepic, from here, and got sidetracked and went straight up Montmartre to the moulins instead. So, there's Lepic's upward curve I haven't 'done.' The other part is, where rue Lepic runs into rue des Abbesses, it makes a sharpish right turn, and drops straight down to métro Blanche and the boulevard de Clichy.

This bit, the rue Lepic, between Abbesses and the boulevard, is where the marché is.

This is a true Parisian neighborhood marché, even if it is sandwiched in between Pigalle and Clichy, the ninth and Montmartre. People live here; this isn't the 'Irma La Douce' movie set, this is real.

For this reason I can walk right down the middle of the not-so-wide street. The 'reason' is a meat truck from the central market at Rungis is parked in mid-street, making a delivery to one of the boucheries.

By the time I get to the level of a bar called the Moulin-Rouge Palace there is another meat delivery truck servicing another boucherie further on down, and several cars are jammed between the two trucks with noplace to go.

Cars coming up from the ninth, crossing the boulevard de Clichy, see this jam as they La Poularde are heading towards it, and make exciting maneuvers to escape an immobile fate. The big guys in their bloody smocks hauling sides of beef out of the trucks pay no attention whatsoever to any of this; and experienced drivers who are already jammed up, catch up on their reading or make mobile phone calls to their girlfriends.

Besides ordinary birds, this shop also has wild birds: with feathers.

This part of the rue Lepic is not all that old; it dates to about 1780 when a bunch of paths leading up to the Montmartre quarries were united to form a slightly less steep access. Initially this caved in so it was moved west a bit. Then it was called l'Empereur until 1864 when it became Lepic. The cabaret La Vache Enragée was at number 25 in 1910. The rest of the rue Lepic, after rue des Abbesses, is another story entirely.

The entry to the passage Lepic is at number 16, but I skip it and its little houses and their gardens. Really, the marché in this street is unremarkable - it has everything normal; butchers, bakers, veg and fruit dealers, flowers, fishmongers, chicken and fowl shops, bars, cafés, odds, ends - but Boucherie Centrale this is a working-class neighborhood area and the shops reflect it.

Another butcher, this one without horsemeat.

The Lux Bar is not 'luxe' but is very authentic with a 1910 ceramic behind the bar, of the Moulin Rouge which is just around the corner in the boulevard de Clichy. The view from the bar would normally be uphill, or of the bar Moulin-Rouge Palace across the way, except the meat trucks are in the way.

The view from the Moulin-Rouge Palace towards the Lux would be better - downhill - except for the same meat trucks. Between the two bars, without the meat trucks, making a choice of which to be in to look at the other one, would be difficult.

I think everybody has finished their shopping. At other marchés, people run up at 12:30 to get some last thing they've forgotten, but that doesn't seem to be happening here today but it is not 12:30 yet. I am not going to wait around, because if they look out the window they may change their minds and do without - as I will if I stay here.

At the newspaper kiosk at métro Blanche I 'find' my second poster; and it is a good thing too because it is the last shot in either camera, and because it 'fits.'

Just remember, if you are up this way - the marché in the rue des Martyrs is not there; it is here, in the rue Lepic where Montmartre begins. Every day.

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Waldo Bini