through a Paris food market first thing in the morning.
Arguably as satisfying as that first sip of café crème in the a.m.,
you'll get an instant jolt of authentic Parisian life minus the caffeine.
What could be more revealing about a city than taking part its every day routines?
Straight up, what feels like a chore at home turns into a party
when you're leaning in to a whole new world.
A French market is a free ticket to the greatest show on earth.
Paris offers countless choices, each marché
bearing its very own distinctive signature.
The 12th arrondissement, known for diversity and amiability,
maintains a unique marketplace that imparts the feel of village life.
The Marché d'Aligre is as colorful and "sympa" (friendly) as it gets --- and
as non-touristy a marketplace as anywhere in Paris.
"Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth."
Martin H. Fischer, American author
Take the plunge beginning on rue d'Aligre, a jumping market street
teeming with vendors hawking their deal-of-the-day.
Good natured and full of life, it's a bit more exotic and messy than
some of the more well-known -- and touristy -- street markets.
Make sure you give a good look to the stand-alone
mom-and-pop shops just behind the stalls as well.
It's a brotherhood of Paris farm-to-table goodness.
*closed on Monday
In the center of it all is a second marketplace, the Marché Beauvau.
This is a marché couvert -- a covered market -- chock full of delightful discovery.
The site is historical -- dating from 1779* -- more akin to a village market
than a Parisian shopping outpost -- and that's half the fun.
Specialty goods of every genre make for a dizzying array of temptations.
Not just the usual chickens on a spit, you're likely to find a whole succulent pig roasting, all golden and crusty, ready to drive every one of your senses into rapture. Freshly prepared seafood salads, wild game, novel charcuterie & cheese displays, French olive oil and a varietal choice of honeys serve as a delicious reminder
of what brought you to Paris in the first place.
*actually it had to be rebuilt; though it originated in 1779, it was reconstructed in 1883.
You'll get to meet the butcher, baker and candlestick maker -- well, maybe not a
candlestick maker but for sure a lot of enterprising folks, all proudly serving
their mostly local clientele day in and day out.
Loaded with housewares, vintage clothing, records, books and lots of
granny's treasures, you may just find the perfect souvenir to take home.
People watching is half the fun.
Rubbernecking this congregation of fellow food lovers
and treasure hunters is both enlightening and entertaining.
Pulling well-used shopping carts or pushing strollers, eavesdropping on
old gentlemen catching up on the daily gossip, you're thrust into
the deep end of a charming and totally authentic local experience.
"Enjoy the little things in life because one day
you'll look back and realize they were the big things."
Kurt Vonnegut, American writer
American history, a pretty remarkable accomplishment for a French aristocrat.
Fancy French name notwithstanding, any Yank who knows a whiff about the American Revolution and the fight for independence understands that without
the help of this brave and accomplished young man, it's likely the
entire continent would still be singing "God Save the Queen."
Lafayette is buried in Picpus Cemetery in Paris' 12th Arrondissement.
His memorial, carefully maintained by the D.A.R.* is striking,
an American flag proudly waving front and center.
Fittingly, the dirt first placed upon his grave came from Bunker Hill.
But before you visit graveside, you need to get to know
this amazing Frenchman a little better.
*Daughters of American Revolution
"Immigrants, we get the job done."
Alexander Hamilton & General Lafayette in Broadway's "Hamilton"
as a Major General even though he arrived without any combat experience.
Shot during his very first battle, Lafayette's star power never dimmed for a moment.
General George Washington relied on his crackerjack secret weapon
from the old world.
Lafayette stayed by Washington's side during the brutal winter of 1777,
then returned to France seeking -- and receiving -- aid from
King Louis XVI for America's cause.
His efforts on behalf of America changed the very face of the war.
Lafayette was well-rewarded; he was named an honorary American citizen.
America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman* was so fond of America's
future president he named his own son after George Washington.
*"Everyone give it up for America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" -- said A. Burr in Broadway's "Hamilton"
named after the Marquis de Lafayette.
In 1899, the first ever commemorative silver dollar coin in the U.S.
was authorized by Congress to honor Lafayette's contributions.
Sold for $2 each (at that time), 50,000 coins were sold,
the proceeds going toward the Lafayette Monument Fund.
The monument was created for the 1900 World's Fair in Paris,
the city where it still resides.
Lafayette's friend George Washington is on the coin as well,
now a valuable collector's item.
of history and a completely different revolution.
During the Reign of Terror, the neighborhood we now call the 12th
was a notoriously busy site of non-stop massacres.
Imagining the slice of the blade and all that blood is a grisly and shocking visual
in a neighborhood now so well known for it friendliness and casual ambience.
A guillotine labored day in and day out in the Square now called Place du Nation*. Logistically, it was a good place since Picpus Cemetery was just a few blocks away.
*It was called Place du Trône during the Revolution.
In the summer of 1794, over 1300 victims were executed on site.
Carts laden with corpses and têtes détachées (detached heads) made
the five minute journey to the burial field where most were
unceremoniously dumped into a mass grave.
Saddest of all was the murder of 16 Carmelite nuns who allegedly sang
while approaching the scaffold.
I wonder if the executioner had second thoughts that day.
To this day, the city of Paris remembers their bravery in the face of tragedy.
In a macabre twist, because Picpus is a private cemetery,
only descendants of those victims of the Place du Trône beheadings
were allowed to be buried there -- including Lafayette,
who suffered loss of a family member in the same terror
that took so many lives in the neighborhood.
of Lin-Manuel Miranda -- "young, scrappy and hungry."
The Marquis de Lafayette gave up a cushy life in France to take up arms
and fight for this new idea of freedom.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are ideals
we take for granted -- and shouldn't.
The world is a dangerous place and one of the most
dim-witted things we can do is rest on our laurels.
There aren't that many Hamiltons and Lafayettes left in our midst.
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice,
but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate, political activist, holocaust survivor
Enjoying the little things in life is the result of being free.
From a cheerful street market in the 12th to a sober-minded cemetery nearby,
you get a double-decker taste of life and its beautiful freedoms in Paris.
There is a little poem that reminds us of what is most important
about living life to the fullest -- "The Dash" by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
© by Linda Ellis, Copyright Inspire Kindness,
LLC 1996, www.thedashpoem.com
I know that in-between my dash will be many more travels in Paris and beyond.
Life worth living is life spent with friends and family in places you love.