Visiting Paris (5)
This entrance of the market to the right of the cheese shop (fromagerie) is hardly noticeable.
You might be able to spring a surprise on your Parisian friends by bringing them here as not many people staying in Paris are even aware of its existence. It is located in the quiet Marais district and is inside the oldest covered market of Paris.
Called "Market of the Children in Red" (le Marché des Enfants Rouges), its two entrances are quite inconspicuous and you might pass by without hardly noticing them, which explains why not many Parisians know about it, though it is well-known to all those staying in the third district of Paris.
Yet it is quite unlike any other place to have lunch in Paris and is the closest one can get to the alfresco food courts that you find in Asian countries, though on a much smaller scale. Tucked away at 39 rue de Bretagne among numerous restaurants and cafés in the area, it is within 5-10 minutes walk from either the Arts et Metiers, Temple or the St-Sebastien Froissart underground stations.
According to the town hall, in 1534 an orphanage was built at the request of Madeleine de Navarre. This was situated in a street near the market and the orphans were all dressed in red, the colour of charity.
Hence the origin of its unusual name. The market itself is small and expensive as the stalls sell only bio (organic) vegetables, but I think its conviviality is more in the alfresco aspect of its six or seven eating stalls that are part of the market.
Unlike the food courts in Asia though, where you can sit at any table you like and order from the stalls near and far, here you have to sit at the tables next to the food stall and move on to another table if you wish to order food from some other stall. Oh, by the way, the best time to go is just after 12 noon. Don't bother to come after 13h00 unless you are prepared to wait in the queue for a seat as all the tables would have been taken up by then. One more thing...as with all markets in Paris, it's closed on Mondays!
Cent Quatre (104)
A good place you can go to on a rainy day on a Sunday (access to it is free) is what the locals call Cent Quatre (the French word for 104) as it is located at 104, rue d'Aubervilliers in the 19th district of Paris. Its official name though is CENTQUATRE-PARIS.
Actually it has another entrance at 5, rue Curial. The closest subway stations are the Riquet and Marx Dormoy stations. Built on the grounds of what was formerly a municipal undertakers building, Cent Quatre has been in existence since 2008 when it was first open to the public. It is a place dedicated to multi-cultural and artistic activities. There is also a "House for Children" where parents can accompany their toddlers and children below 5 years in activities that stimulate their development. You can find full information (opening hours, etc.) from its website here.
But before entering Cent Quatre you might want to admire the street art along the 400-meter wall on the street. In fact as you walk along rue d'Aubervilliers, you are likely to pass by No. 156. This is the public housing for low-income families where the Kouachi brothers (Chérif and Saïd Kouachi), perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo killings in January 2015, spent all their childhood years.
The two photos below are among the street art paintings on the wall.