Sunday, April 13, 2014

Paris Chinese Grocery - Belleville

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So there are two major "Chinese Zones" in Paris. The first is in the 13th and the most popular, mostly run by the Chinese who were born in Vietnam or Laos, and the second is in Belleville, right next or sometimes known within the "dangerous" areas of Gare de l'Est where the majority of the Northern and subsaharan Africans reside and do business. I quoted "dangerous" because it is what all the Parisians tell me so I heed their warnings and do not go at night - I haven't seen anything dangerous in any of the 10th, 11th, 19th, or 20th - Belleville is the centre of where these arrondisements/districts meet. Indeed, this area is known for its cheap rent for immigrants and the working class. I'm not saying that this area isn't dangerous (in Jan 2014 a ton of prostitutes were arrested in the Chinatown there) but it's quite busy during the day and brimming in colour from the graffitis on the walls and the colour of the people so you kinda grow into invisibility amongst the crowd - whether you think that's dangerous or not is to each's interpretation. I did go there on a Sunday and there are a TON of prostitutes there. A little creepy....

I do like the grocery stores here in comparison to the 13th, as there are more Chinese things such as frozen dumplings for boil.

Anyway, the Chinatown in Belleville sprouted in the 1980s, stemming from by the large population of WenZhou, China immigrants. In 2000, according to this webpage on Chinese immigrants, there were 130 thousand Chinese people from WenZhou in Paris:
所以從1990年代開始,溫州人把經濟活動向巴黎的美麗城街(Rue de Belleville)開闢一個新的溫州人經濟活動區。美麗城街位於巴黎十區、十一區和十九區的交會處,原來是阿拉伯移民聚集區,屬於巴黎有名的落後貧窮地區,社會秩序相當混亂。
Starting from 1990s, the immigrants from Wenzhou, China moved their economic activities towards Paris's Belleville, to open a new economic activity centre for them. Belleville is the intersection of 10th, 11th, and 19th district of Paris, originally an immigrant centre for the Arabs, belonging to infamous Parisian high-poverty neighbourhood, full of social problems .

According to
In the mid 1980's, another Chinatown sprouted in another part of Paris: Belleville, in the northeastern section of the city. Belleville, which was the home of Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier, has been for the longest time the neighborhood where new immigrants would settle. You can still find Jewish tailors and Armenian shoemakers; more recently, Arabs and Africans moved in. In the summer, rue Rebeval feels like Cholon, the Chinese open air market in Saigon.
And there are quite a number of chinese grocery stores here, opened by the Chinese from WenZhou. Some of which are opened on Sundays and closed on Mondays (although the laws keep changing).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paris Chinese Grocery - 13th Arr

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A little background from:
The 13th arrondissement, on the left bank, really took off in the late 1970's and early 1980's with the arrival of the "boat people" from Vietnam. The arrondissement had fallen victim to the depressing urban development started under the Gaullist government. This working class neighborhood was torn down and replaced by impersonal and ugly high rise buildings. No Parisian wanted to move in this universe of concrete. But the Chinese people who came from Vietnam found there a new Promised Land. The rents were cheap, there was plenty of space. They could build their own city - the largest Chinatown on the entire Continent - in the City of Light. In 1982, the first Chinese store open its doors. Now, there are over 150 restaurants in this southeastern part of Paris. 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 and most of it is closed."

Now I live in the 7th arr, which means for me to get anywhere near asian groceries is difficult. For me to get from my stop to Place d'Italie is 30 minutes with one change (top left circle), and Porte D'Ivry is about 45 minutes with one change (the bottom right circle).

Paris Asian Supermarkets

Most of the time, when I run searches on the Internet, I generally search in English, unless there's something specifically Chinese that I don't know the English word for or it's something uniquely Parisian that no one English-speaking would know to search for. So when I looked up asian super markets in English, I noticed that there's quite a void in the compilation and it took me a while to even figure out where to go for Asian groceries. So although I don't have a great list at the moment, I'm going to attempt and write them out and add to it as it is still a work in progress.

To start, the first thing you need to know is that Asian groceries are the easiest to obtain in three places in Paris: Chinatown in the 13th arr (the triangle of blvd massena, avenue de choisy, d'ivry, up to place d'italie), Chinatown in Belleville, and in 2nd arr (little japan by pyramides). But that doesn't mean that those are the only places that have asian groceries. Personally I haven't discovered too many, but I figure I'll try my best to provide what I know as long as I live here.

  • Chinatown in the 13th 
    • open Sundays until 1pm
    • more Vietnamese/Laos
  • Chinatown in Belleville 
    • some stores open Sundays all day but closed on Mondays
    • more Chinese (WenZhou)
    • neighbourhood a bit sketch
  • Asian Markets in the 6th
  • Asian Markets in the 3rd
  • Asian Markets in the 10th
  • Korean/Japanese in the 2nd (some stores open every day of the week all day)
  • Suresnes

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Humble Aloe

me:  man im such a genius
 Matt:  lol
pat yourself on the back some more why don't you?
 me:  im patting it so hard im starting to get a bruise
  Matt:  I have some humble aloe you can use on it