Not only Chinese in Paris’ Chinatown
It all started when the architect Michael Holley, between 1964 and 1969 – perhaps wanting to pay homage to the great Le Corbusier – designed this skyscraper complex called Les Olympiades which took their names from some cities that had hosted the games: Antwerp, Athens, Curtain, Helsinki, London, Mexico City, Sapporo And Tokyo. These are monoliths 104 meters high connected to each other by common spaces and plazas with shopping centres, office areas, comfortable sidewalks and underground car parks to make cars disappear.
Skyscrapers to be filled with people who have come from afar
All beautiful in theory: but in practice the beyond 2850 apartments did not please the Parisians who snubbed them. At the same time the demand for houses increased and the arrival of migrants from Far Eastern countries who found space here. And so it was born Paris Chinatown.
Today it is a neighborhood where the red lanterns and signs in ideograms and where it’s nice to walk aimlessly and without haste. Stopping to look and smell. The air is filled with the scent of noodles And lacquered duck and the baguette gives way to rice. A piece of advice: if you see something that intrigues you, follow your instincts and go and see. There are corners that will surprise you. And many of the most curious corners of Paris’s Chinatown are hidden away.
The market of the flavors of the Orient
The starting point, however, could be the supermarket Tang Freresfounded by gods brothers arrived from Laos in 1976 and which today represents one of the largest Asian supermarket chains in the West. It’s not a tourist attraction, but it’s definitely a truly authentic experience. The market imports directly i products from the Far East and many things are produced expressly for this brand. Some you’ve never seen before and it’s fun to walk among the shelves choosing strange foods or ornaments that make you feel like you’re in a different place than Paris. And from its traditional markets.
To find another particular corner of the Paris Chinatown it is necessary to go underground: yes, because it is located in a parking lot a temple which is worth the visit. The buildings in the neighborhood, as we have said, were designed and built by Western architects to be inhabited by the French. And for this reason no one has thought of creating spaces that weren’t Western.
A temple in a parking lot
But the Eastern community needed places to celebrate their culture and religion. And he invented them. So you travel Due de Disque and at a certain point you enter a parking lot: about fifteen meters inside, on the right, there is a staircase that leads to a Buddhist temple. It will not be like those of Nepal or Laos but it is very popular. And tourists are greeted with a smile between incense and gilt. Even if we are in France.
Once you’re back on the road if you feel like taking some time to Oslo galleries which is on Avenue d’Ivry. Don’t expect a place of luxury, like the department stores in Paris. No, the entrance is quite hidden, there is no natural light and the ceilings are low. But this is the real heart of Paris Chinatown. Here you can find clothes and DVDs, butchers and jewelery shops and many places to eat: the chairs are plastic, the light is neon. But the flavors are almost always excellent. And the original recipes.
If you want to eat while walking you can try the banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches stuffed with vegetables such as carrot and cucumber with the addition of sweet and sour sauces and meat ranging from pork to lacquered duck. A real experience. You can try them from Thieng Heng which is located near the market Tang Frere at 55 Avenue d’Ivry or al Khai Tri a little further. It says bookstore outside. But come in and eat.
For tea lovers, theEmpire des Thésan elegant restaurant furnished in a traditional way that offers a menu of over 200 different tea blends.
Lacquered duck and rice
Instead, immerse yourself more in the atmosphere of Chinatorn Paris go by Hoa Nam still in Avenue d’Ivry, at 51, still near the market. The menu is huge and some must-have dishes such as those based on shrimp. Go for the lacquered duck instead ang at number 71 Avenue d’Ivry. They are said to be as good as those eaten in the Orient. But with the eiffel tour a short distance away everything becomes special.
To arrive with the metro you can use line 7 which arrives at Place d’Italia and Tolbiac, a good entry point to the Eastern Quarter. Or choose line 14 and get off at Olympiades.