Exotic Paris 2

If the Asian part of the world is more tempting to you, here is some of it.

The Chinese World in the 13th and 20th Arr. You see, not one but two. Paris has two Chinatowns. The first one in the 13th arrondissement, the more recent one, the 20th arr - Belleville.

The 13th arrondissement, on the left bank, really took off in the late 1970's - early 1980's with the arrival of the "boat people" from Vietnam. Most of the people living here are from Indochina from countries like Laos, Cambodja and Vietnam. Very easily they started restaurants close to the metrostations. The neighborhood's center is the place d'Italie, and its borders are the avenue d'Ivry, avenue de Choisy and boulevard Masséna. The only day to avoid Chinatown is Monday, when nothing much happens. Here the Buddhist Temple Teochew is a meeting place,44, Av. d'Ivry,75013 Paris, where everybody is welcome. Around the corner is the superbly decorated pagoda of the Temple de l'Association des Résidents d'Origine Indochinoise (37 Rue du Disque, 13th), hidden in an underground passage that looks like a parking garage entrance (right off 66 Avenue d’Ivry).

Continue up the Avenue d’Ivry, with one last stop for tea and pastries at L’Empire des Thés (101 Avenue d’Ivry, 13th). In this area also came the Chinese supermarket Tang Frères, 48, Av. d'Ivry, 75013 Paris, M° Porte d'Ivry. Here you can buy the usual chinese stuff but also some more exotic things as dragoneye, dragonfruit, dried frogs or seahorses.

A lot of restaurants are in this area to name a few : La Mer de Chine. This is the real cantonese cuisine and some consider it the best Chinese restaurant in the city. It makes no effort to attract non Chinese speaking customers: parts of its menu are not even translated into French. The "specialité" is sautéed duck tongue, but you can have fried soft shell crabs if you feel less adventurous. 159, rue Château des Rentiers. 75013. Tel: 01 45 84 22 49.

The new Chinese world in the 20th arr. - Belleville is the place where a smaller community lives. In the mid 1980's, another Chinatown sprouted in another part of Paris: Belleville. Belleville, which was the home of Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier, has been for the longest time the neighborhood where new immigrants would settle. In the summer, rue Rebeval feels like Cholon, the Chinese open air market in Saigon.

They also have nice restaurants. Salon de Thé Wenzhou. Don't even think for a minute this is a tea salon. It is not. It is a restaurant where hundreds of Chinese come for lunch. It is cheap and everything is good: the crab and tofu soup, fried raviolis, wonderful little sautéed eels. Only drawback: the service is not very friendly. 24, rue de Belleville. 75020. 01 46 36 56 33. M° Belleville.

The Indian world in the 10th arr. The whole Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, M° La Chapelle has most of the shops ( grocery, decoration,fashion) with people coming from Sri-Lanka, it's is also called little Jaffna . The passage Brady, entrance 33 boulevard de Strasbourg and 46 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris is also calles Little Islamabad with Pakistanian shops and restaurants.

At Velan, 83-85, passage Brady you believe honestly you're in India or Pakistan. The smell of black cumin, thea, Indian soap will help you to wander in these other world.

Pooja, 91, passage Brady, tel 01 48 84 00 83, is said to be the only original Indian in the passage. Go for the real taste of a curry or samosa. At Indiran Dishni, 25, Rue du Cail, 75010 Paris, tel. 01 42 05 44 04 . Here the indian communtie comes to eat their spicy specialities : kuruma of vegetables , biryani...

If all this daily stuff doesn't appeal to you,if you're more the arty type, then a visit to Musée Guimet, National Museum of Asian Art,6, place d’Iéna, 75016 Paris, M°Iéna ( ev Trocadero) is a must. Art of high quality from the Asian countries and very nice temporary exhibitions are performed.

Strolls, art, Paris : it all can make you exhausted, maybe you're in need for some rest, some meditation. You can go to The Buddhist Institute Kagyu-Dzong and the Pagode in the Bois de Vincennes, 40, rue de la ceinture du Lac-Daumesnil,75012 Paris, M°Porte Dorée. (admission on appointment only)

 

 

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