For four years, my husband and I lived on rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement. We moved there from the 5th, where we lived in one of the proverbial villages that make up the lovely city of Paris. Though we were paying only a fraction more for rent, our apartment was 50% larger than the one we left on cité du Cardinal Lemoine. But the neighborhood left something to be desired – there was no open air market.
I had been spoiled by the proximity of rue Mouffetard and the markets at place Monge and Maubert-Mutualité, and drove back to my old neighborhood every Sunday to do my shopping. My husband complained bitterly when the city decided to build a huge glass office building on the place du Marché Saint-Honoré, which originally bore a Balthard-style structure that housed a proper neighborhood market. Once the structure was completed, he christened it the Gare Saint-Honoré, so mammoth and rigid it was.
I too, was disappointed, and fervently wished that the city planners had conceived of a marketplace instead of a commercial space devoted to finance and furniture. Because our quarter had no market, I felt that it had no soul.
The new Marché Saint-Honoré was officially inaugurated on Wednesday, June 11 at 6 P.M., with Jean-François Legaret, mayor of the 1st arrondissement and Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, presiding. Both men gave warm, encouraging speeches about what the re-establishment of an open air market will mean to the quartier. Mayor Delanoë was particularly passionate as he described how the establishment of marketplaces in areas where they are currently lacking can only help to improve the quality of life for Parisian citizens. He even mentioned Les Halles as a possible candidate for a new market, and noted that this would be more than appropriate given the location’s long history as the “belly of Paris”.
Itinerant singers punctuated the festivities with lively songs and accordion music, and vendors hawked their wares. Along with the traditional fruit and vegetable, fish and dairy stands, there were vendors of Italian and Lebanese products, wines and flowers. A charcuterie gave away samples of roasted ham, artisanal sausages and pork ribs prepared with spices. A large table laden with olives, nuts, pita triangles, cheeses and spreads added to the carnival spirit, and champagne, whisky and soft drinks were free for the asking.
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