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Of all the areas in the city that are hot now: the 17th, the 11th, the 10th and the 7th, the 10th is among the most interesting. Why? Because a few years ago it was a culinary wasteland and now it is a very happening place. Oh sure, that great film noir, the Hotel Du Nord showed the Hotel and area to its best, and all my gay friends are scrambling to move there, but except for the Canal St Martin and old memories, what else was there to attract one?
But I went a week ago and I was charmed. Granted I went to eat on a sunny Sunday with 70° F. temperatures (after weeks of grey drizzly weather) and everyone was out: Grannies in wheelchairs, babies in poussettes, naked male fishermen, same sex and groping married young heteros, Brits and Germans straight off the train – everyone.
Indeed, one feared more for being run over by a runner (yes they exist, even here), a velibist or a drunken sans abri, than a car, although one driver did run a red light almost smacking pedestrians in the zebra stripes, I think to his chagrin.
In any case, a few weeks ago, Richard Hesse of Paris Update wrote a glowing review of Garance and last week Emmanuel Rubin of Figaroscope convinced me. The meal was terrific, from the fried calamari to the fried potatoes, from the raw veggies to the almost raw veal’s liver, and from the ice cream to the coffee.
But almost more important than the food was the street scene, a living theatre. Hundreds of people walked, bicycled and jogged along the Canal, hundreds sat beside it eating, drinking and sunning, and hundreds climbed the bridges to look up and down, take photos and stand. There are restaurants along here recall – the Cantine de Quentin and that at the Hotel du Nord most notably – but it was the cafes with terraces that were packed with people of all ages. Hesse said the Garance was targeting young folk and Rubin called them bobocrats, but the day I was there the age range was about age 2-72 with lots of couples and families.
So next nice Sunday, trek over there for a fine meal and great street theater.
My favorite in the area is clearly:
96, quai de Jemmapes in the 10th, (Metro : Republique, Gare de l’Est)
Weekday lunch menu 18 €; a la carte 30-40 €.
©2007 John A. Talbott