meta name="p:domain_verify" content="8b08da541f8a920e6 Marie Z Johnston: Pépe's Marché Popincourt

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pépe's Marché Popincourt

It has been years since I've retraced the steps, once so familiar with my grandfather, down the Rue Oberkampf to the market where he did his shopping. So it was with great anticipation that I made a pilgrimage to the 11th arrondissement where my love of the marché and seasonal eating began. 

Walking the Rue Oberkamf was, well, if not exactly surprising, just a little shocking since my memories of that street, and what I saw, were literally worlds  apart

Gone all the 'charcutiers', gone the 'traiteurs
et rafineurs' (awesome French takeout shops and cheese stores) replaced with video stores, cheap dresses, a Greek place and a phone store. One of the Charcutier (see the old sign?) is now a  Verre Volé. Could be worse.

My heart did flutter for a moment when I saw the sign "Brulerie de Cafe'.  It's where we would go to get the coffee beans Pépe thought were perfect (not that I'd drink the stuff now) but no, in it's place is an office where the roasting equipment used to be - only the yellow sign remains.

Remarkably, the local public baths are still open. Bathing is available Thursday through Sunday; though you'll have to cross town if you're hankering for a bath on Monday through Wednesday.

Then I saw it: the Marché Popincourt on Rue Richard le Noir. What a spacious market! The wide street is lined with large poplar trees and there is a garden with fountains running down the center of the market area creating a park like effect.

There is plenty of room for everyone (even those aggressive little old ladies with their bulging carts) to shop efficiently or just stroll and 'window shop'. With room to dawdle, wander, or sit and eat lunch on a bench under the trees or by the fountains and simply  watch the world go by.
The produce is beautiful. Displays feel old fashioned and friendly. This market is welcoming and gracious as though from another time.

Typically vendors are friendly at the markets I visit, but not like this. They actually  smiled and didn't seem to mind that I was taking photos rather than loading up with their wares.

The vendors spoke to me, asked me questions, and happily answered mine.  Where was I?  Could this really be Paris? 

Then I saw him....  Gilles COOLEN... a coffee bean vendor! His table is covered with vats of coffee beans, some open, some sealed in air tight containers (like those wine corks where you can suck the air out of the bottle).

Gilles sells coffee from everywhere, and not that sickley beige/brown variety the French call French Roast.  

Gilles prides himself on having many organic varieties, he even stocks organic, single origin, estate farmed, extra fancy Kona... and, it's dark roasted.  Sometimes Gilles  roasts at the market though today he wasn't doing that, it was Tuesday after all...  

I bought a 1/2lb of plantation grown Raja Batak Sumatra.. the darkest roast he had.  The sticker on my vacume sealed bag was hand written with a roasting date of yesterday. Yes, it is delicious...

Miro Slave, a soft spoken Polish man, may have the most interesting stand in the entire marché.
Catering to expat Swedes, Norwegians and Danes, Miro imports all sorts of pickled and smoked fish, breads and other purely 'Northern' foods for his homesick followers.

Since the one thing missing in my French diet is pickled herring, you can only imagine my excitement when right there in front of me were a dozen varieties of the stuff!

There was is also a farmer from the Picardie region of France (where my grandfather's people still live) selling apples, pears and potatoes.  They offer home made unfiltered apple or pear juice and sparkeling ciders as well as something I'd never seen before - sparkeling rhubarb cider.  I've posted a photo so you can see I'm not making this up...

No, I didn't buy any. Although sitting here at my desk right now, after eating an  open faced pickeled herring sandwich, I'm wondering why the heck not.

See you there!  A bientot,

View Marché Popincourt, Paris XI in a larger map
Marché Popincourt
Boulevard Richard-Lenoir between 
Rues Oberkampf & rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
Metro:  Parmentier or Oberkampf
Tuesdays & Fridays  7am to 2:30pm


diningdish said...

It looked lovely. I love the open markets in Paris. Your story was a cheap trip back.

jens at cincinnati wine said...

Yes, why didn't you grab some cider!? What were you thinking?

Zabie aka "Marie" said...

@diningdish: Thank you, glad you liked it. There will be more soon!

@Jens: Well, initially I was a bit put off by the Rhubarb Cider, and didn't want to lug more apple cider home (I have some). I'll just have to go back and get some!

David said...

That is a lovely market. I especially like those women in the middle who sell cheese!

Zabie aka "Marie" said...

I was so distracted by the coffee and pickled herring that I missed those gals... now I've got another reason to go back! Thanks David!

Anonymous said...

This was one of the first open air markets that I encountered in Paris as my hotel was on the rue de Trois Bornes near the Parmentier metro station. After just seeing Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, the yearning to go back is stronger than ever.
Cheers, Stephan