February 20, 2013

A day in French Indochina

Having missed the Chinese New Year due a unexpected attack of gastrointeritis last weekend, I decided it was not too late to have a stroll through Paris' Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement. This Chinatown was born in the 1970s and 80s as a result of overseas Chinese displaced by the new governments that emerged after the post colonial era. The most famous of these migrants are the boat people, overseas Chinese refugees fleeing Vietnam. Apparently it is the largest Chinatown on continental Europe.

It did not look anything like San Francisco's Chinatown - that Parisian architecture cannot be mistaken - however, once inside the shops, it felt like deepest China.

Starting point: Metro Nationale

Bonne Année

I am totally lost when it comes to anything Oriental. I have never set foot in Asia. I therefore followed my ever-true Asian guide, our Flaneuse Press Officer, to show me around and explain the various tempting and threating products. From fresh produce (some gigantic looking avocados and "grapefuits") to deep frozen fish that looked like a piece of Parmeggiano. Intrigued and always willing to learn about new cultures I went from one store to the next feeling more and more at a loss. I ended up buying roasted sesamy seeds, a box of strawberries (imported from Spain!) and three bunches of pussy willows. Not that adventurous after all, huh?!?

China Store

Chinese Paris gazette

Funky architecture

Parisian fountain in red

Feeling rather hungry we scouted out a simple looking diner which was chock-a-block full and served Vietnamese Pho soups and Jasmin tea. Delicious. First time I tried Vietnamese cuisine. We were definately the attraction of the moment. As my Italian fashionista friend put it so nicely: "It has been a loooong time since they've seen 4 ladies from the 16th arrondissement in their hood."

Vietnamese Pho soup

 Oslo commercial center

Passage Bourgoin

A little pink house in the big city

Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laos satellite???

Hidden gardens

Stark contrasts

First spring blossoms

Chinese Christian mission in France

 Avenue d'Ivry, the Chinatown of Paris

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