little africa + little india

Jet lag is no joke.

After experiencing no significant shocks to my sleep patterns on past European adventures, I thought I was immune. But alas, Seth and I somehow managed to sleep until three this afternoon. Fourteen hours! How did that even happen?! I had never slept past one in the afternoon in my entire life, so I almost screamed when I saw the clock. We are definitely setting an alarm for tomorrow.

After a very quick shower, Seth and I journeyed out of our apartment for some lunch. I was dying to try Du Pain et Des Idées but was disappointed to find out it is only open on weekdays. Instead, we decided to walk to a section of our neighborhood that we had not yet explored. We passed several ordinary brasseries, pharmacies, and supermarchés, but nothing caught our eye. Then suddenly—very, very suddenly—we found ourselves in Little Africa. The streets were lined with beauty shops (strangely called “Fair & White”), nail salons, clothing stores, and the occasional Creole restaurant. This neighborhood was not pushed to the outskirts of the city; it was near the center. What I found even more surprising, though, was that white French people were not out of place like white Americans would have been back home, nor did they seem to feel out of place. The neighborhood was perfectly safe, but more importantly, everyone seemed to know it was safe. In fact, it was treated very much like any American city’s Chinatown, not like a “ghetto.” I really, really loved it.

As Seth and I continued to stroll, the cuisine became increasingly less African and more Indian. We found Little India! (I should say, I have no idea what to call these neighborhoods, but I did find it strange that they were so close together.) We stopped by a French bakery (owned by a man from India) for some traditional fare: quiche au champignon et pan au chocolat (mushroom quiche and chocolate croissant). Finally, food! Delicious, delicious food! After our lengthy slumber, we had almost forgotten that we had not eaten in twenty hours. We walked by a couple of Indian restaurants, and we noticed that many of the menus were written in English. At that moment, we resolved to eat in Little India (not those touristy restaurants!) whenever we tired of speaking French.

On the way home, we stopped by Picard, a frozen food store. We picked up a couple of relatively cheap goodies for the week, including a pizza with speck, arugula, and mozzarella; a lasagna with salmon and spinach; some mushroom crepes; and strawberry raspberry sorbet. Seth wants to try the lasagna at dinner tonight, so we will probably do that if we ever get hungry again. (He probably won’t get hungry, as he has been “stealthily” sneaking sorbet as I type this entry.) In the meantime, we plan to work on our Berkeley essay. No wine for us.

A side note to my dear friend Antonia: The French are obsessed with Hello Kitty! They have her cute little face on their lunch boxes, clothing, shampoo, everything! I think I would be much cooler had I bought that wallet.

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