More Markets: Dijon’s Les Halles


We approach Les Halles


One of the cheese stalls


One of the entrances

Dijon, France: More than Mustard

While you’re in Dijon, be sure to visit Les Halles, one of France’s largest and best-known markets. It’s in the heart of Old Town, not far from the Place Darcy, with the start of rue de la Liberte (a pedestrianized shopping street); the stunning Notre Dame; and the imposing Palais des Ducs.

A market in Dijon has been a Burgundy institution for hundreds of years, but from 1876 it has been housed in Les Halles, a large vaulted hall. The city decided in 1868 to build a new market, which was built 1873-75 on the site of the old convent cloister of the Jacobines; the old market was in the church of the Jacobines, before its demolition.


Stalls and shops along the sides too



Beef head

This covered market, a masterpiece of metal and glass, was built from plans designed by Gustave Eiffel, a native of Dijon. Some of the ironwork does indeed remind you of the Eiffel Tower in Paris with its steel beams. The glass ceiling fills the huge hall with natural light, even on the grey day in December that we visited. The corners of the big arches on the exterior above the main entrances are decorated with animal motifs and symbolic themes relating to the market: heads of a goat, a sheep, a cow, a boar, fish, Ceres (goddess of harvests), and Hermes (god of commerce). There’s even a lion head: not sure why, as we don’t eat lions, but maybe they are market protectors?







Even a lion head!



The market in Dijon has a reputation for excellence that extends back hundreds of years. Many say that wandering the aisles in Les Halles gives you a snapshot of Burgundy’s food culture and lifestyle.

Some of France’s most famous dishes come from the Burgundy region; think of coq au vinescargotsand boeuf bourguignon, pain d’épices(a sweet bread made with honey and spices), oeufs en meurette(eggs poached in a red wine sauce), jambon persillé (ham cured with parsley), so you can buy ingredients for these dishes at the market. In the right season, you can buy cherries and black currants, which the area famously distills into crème de cassis. Burgundy is the home of Kir(cassis mixed with dry white wine) and Kir Royale(cassis mixed with champagne), and of course in the market you can also buy wonderful white chardonnay and red pinot noir wines.



The famous jambon persille

Les Halles comes to life every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with an incredible selection of meats, fish, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, herbs, bread, and as well as pastries and other ready-to-eat snacks. Try La Buvette du Marche, where you can get snacks, small meals, and a glass of wine.




inside2This wonderful market triggers all the senses, no matter the season: visually with all the bright colors, stacks of fruit and vegetables; the aroma of great bread, and strong cheese in one corner, the earthy, fresh fragrance of herbs and spices and the tang of the sea as you approach the seafood stalls; the sound of people chatting and trundling their market trolleys or baskets on wheels; the wet feel of melting ice, mixed with saltiness and fish, that forms pools of water on the floor; and, naturally, taste if you buy anything.



suasagesStalls are also outside in the square around the great hall, and lining the square are many small shops, cafes and bistros—they all looked good, so it was hard to choose one for lunch. But we did!


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More Wonderful Sculptures in Paris


IMG_9717As you probably know by now, we love outdoor art and outdoor sculptures. So, we were delighted to find another one in the Tuileries Garden that we hadn’t seen, or noted, before.

It’s on the side of the Tuileries Garden that faces rue de Rivoli, not far from an exit that brings you out near the English bookstore, W H Smith.

The name is La Foule (the Crowd), 1963-1967. Bronze with patina, acquired in 1969, sculpted by Raymond Mason (1922-2010).

It’s an interesting piece, of many figures clustered in a tight pattern, most with indistinguishable faces, but obviously with a story to tell.

Raymond Mason was born in Birmingham, England and studied at the Birmingham sideSchool of Arts and Crafts. He lived and worked in Paris from 1946 after WW2, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for “services to sculpture and to Anglo-French relations” in 2002.

He is mostly known for his sculptures of tightly packed people made from clay and of teeming street scenes that evoked an animated world of ordinary people. So, this La Foule fits right into that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe then put two and two together and realized that another piece that we’ve seen many times and really admire is also by Raymond Mason. It’s “The Departure of Fruit and Vegetables from the Heart of Paris”, completed in 1971.

This lovely colorful, realistic-looking, work is in Saint-Eustache church in the Les Halles area of central Paris. The original Les Halles Market (Paris’s central food market) was situated there until it was moved to Rungis in 1970 and many people mourned the move. Saint-Eusache had been the church of the market people, so it seems a fitting place to put this work of Mason’s, which conveys the sadness of the market move.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMason described The Departure… as “an elegy for the demise of the central fruit and vegetable market of Les Halles“. In front of a backdrop of the doomed market buildings a procession of market traders, bearing their produce, is moving. Behind is the church of Saint-Eustache.

This piece is not bronze, but molded epoxy resin, then painted with acrylic paint.

I am told that Mason’s funeral took place in Saint-Eustache too, so this is an important place for him.

So many artistic treasures in Paris! More to discover each visit.


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Moving in Dijon in December


Porte Guillaume on Place Darcy


A fun train for little kids


Place Darcy promoting “Dijon moves”

Dijon in December

Early December: Signs of Christmas were all over Dijon—street decorations, decorated Christmas trees, pretty lights, a Christmas market. On our first full day on that visit, we started at Place Darcy on a special walk called The Owl’s Trail. We’d got a booklet at the Visitors’ Center the afternoon before, that describes how visitors can follow markers set in the sidewalks: in this case, shiny owls (more on the owls and the walk later).


A clever name: Dijon se bouge, which also has On se bouge in it

RcarPlace Darcy is named after the engineer Henry Darcy who constructed a reservoir to bring water to the town. At the end of the Place is the Porte Guillaume, an 18thcentury triumphal arch, named after Guillaume de Volpiano, the 11thcentury reformer of the Saint-Benigne Benedictine abbey. The famous Dijon shopping street, rue de la Liberté, begins at the arch.

That day, the place was bustling with a miniature Christmas train for kids, and with a special promotion called “Dijon se Bouge” (Dijon moves). A sporting organization was one of the organizers, and various booths were set up, where people could stop and chat and get information—about sports, getting moving and keeping healthy.

What a great idea, especially on a frosty December day when moving to keep warm was a very good idea!

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Covered Food Markets in Paris: La Chapelle


A meat stall in La Chapelle


signCovered Food Markets in Paris

(All the photos are from La Chapelle)

Besides tracking down the secret corners of Paris, or the quiet gardens, or the angels on buildings, my husband and I also love to find new markets, both covered and outdoors. Food is such an integral part of a culture and any of these markets give us a glimpse, and taste, of part of the life of Paris in the different neighborhoods.

The old downtown Les Halles was demolished in the 1970s and the market moved to Rungis, and since then there has been no main central food market in Paris. But flourishing covered markets, many historic, serve neighborhoods all over city. These markets, marchés, serve many purposes: they sell a huge array of cheeses, charcuterie, meats, fish, wines, bread, fruits and vegetables; they are a great place to meet your friends and neighbors and to get to know special vendors; and they usually have stalls where people can eat casual meals or buy dishes to take home. Lots of these are run by vendors originally from other countries, so it’s a good introduction to the multi-ethnic face of Paris.


Quite a selection of goat cheeses


I wrote about the Saint Quentin Covered Market before. See here:

On one of our more recent trips to Paris we made a point of taking the metro (line 12 to Marx Dormay) to find and visit the La Chapelle Covered Food Market,often just called “Marché d’Olive” because it’s on the rue d’Olive. It was well worth the effort, an undiscovered delight for most tourists and visitors to Paris I think.


Wonderful pates




La Chapelle(which means “the chapel”) is one of Paris’s great examples of a covered market, I think smaller than Saint Quentin, but still a fun place to visit. The friendly and obliging vendors offer quality items and a good selection, but the other main attraction is the actual building. Designed by French architect Auguste-Joseph Magne(1816-1885) in the Baltard style, it opened in 1885. Victor Baltard(1805-1874) was a French architect whose best-known work was the old Les Halles. His biggest innovation was to use a glass and iron umbrella-shaped roof that maximized light and ventilation.

After extensive renovations that took great care to preserve the original architectural elements (took more than 2 years, and the merchants had their stalls outside during that period), La Chapelle reopened in September 2010.


You can clearly see the metal and glass structure


Easy to guess what their speciality is!

The market building is in a paved pedestrian plaza just off Boulevard Marx Dormay (18tharrondissement). This vibrant, largely West African, neighborhood is becoming more fashionable, and the streets around the market have many wine bars, and cafes springing up. On the outside, the walls are covered in pale orange mortar, divided into large rectangles separated by iron framing. Inside, a soaring ceiling, lacy cast-iron supports, tall columns and wide aisles do, indeed, give a feeling of a chapel. Natural light pours in through a glass light well that runs almost the full length of the pavilion roof.

The newly-refurbished stalls are very welcoming and you can find all the typical market items, such as cheeses, meats, pates, fish, fruits and vegetables. I really enjoyed looking at all the wonderful vegetables, the cheese and the foie gras stalls. My husband always makes a beeline for the fish stalls!




foiegrasWe also noticed a couple of eateries, some with seating. This northeastern Paris neighborhood is a vibrant multicultural one (especially West African and Caribbean countries), so some of the eateries and stalls reflect this.

Address: 10, rue d’Olive (18th), Metro: Marx Dormay

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 8am-7.30pm; Saturday,


Beautifully set out

9am-1pm; Sunday, 8am-1.30pm. Closed Monday.



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Not a Station, but a Restaurant


At the start of Passage des Panoramas


Passage des Panoramas


Looks like a railway carriage



Victoria Station, the Wagon Restaurant

11 Blvd Montmartre, opposite the Musee Grevin. Metro: Grands Boulevards, Line 8 or 9.

This restaurant advertises its specials as pizzas au feu de bois (cooked on a wood fire) and grillades au feu de bois.

We’d seen the side of this place at the start of the Passage des Panoramas, which leads off Blvd Montmartre, and took note as it looks very unique—like a railway carriage, plus there are Union Jack signs, signaling Britain. Why a British-themed place here in the heart of Paris? On second thoughts, Paris (besides just “being Paris”) is also pretty cosmopolitan and we see cafes and eateries from the cuisines of many different countries. So, why not a British theme?



Rod M at our table looking out on Blvd Montmartre


Galley, waiter dressed like a train conductor


Booths look like carriage compartments


One evening we ended up here by default as the menus of a couple of bistrots in the Passage didn’t “speak” to us. We got a seat right at the front of the restaurant, looking out on the street through the big glass windows. The concept and decor really are quite unusual, designed to look and feel like railway carriages, with a narrow corridor down the middle and booths(compartments) down one side, with a narrow galley kitchen on the other side. The waiters wear uniforms like a train conductor and the pizza chef, who mans a wood fire at the front, calls a finished order by pulling a bell. A bit funky, but fun. There’s a much bigger area at the back, still with train theme, but not a narrow carriage.



Pizza chef


Big room at the back

Food was fine and plentiful; we had a cotes d’agneau plate each, and shared a bottle of rose wine.

Would we ever return? Maybe just for the novelty, of if we ever take a family visitor to Paris.


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Things Change, Things Stay the Same


huitresRodCafé du Marché on rue Cler (7th arrondissement)

Things change, things stay the same

I’ve written about Café du Marché before, see here


The new salad perigordienne

saladeRodIt’s always been one of our favorites for lunch, so we returned when we visited Paris last month. Since we were there last, in May 2017, it has changed management, something we were not aware of until we got there and sat down.

But, it didn’t seem to matter too much as it’s still a welcoming place. The décor hasn’t changed much at all, but the menu has and our all-time previous favorite salade, the salade marché, has gone off the menu. In addition, prices seem to be a bit higher.

We liked the salade marché for its arrangement of different vegetables topped with raw ham and a slice of foie gras. So, off the new menu we chose their salade perigordienne, which also has slices of foie gras on three small toasts, as well as geziers (gizzards) on salad. It was pretty good, and the geziers were the softest we’ve ever had anywhere.

huitres outside


huitresRod2One thing that hasn’t changed is that in the winter months the café has a stand outside selling huitres (oysters) from Normandy (or sometimes Brittany). People can buy them on the street, or customers inside can order them. Rod loves raw oysters, so he was very happy!

In fact, on that trip we needed to go to a bank close by, so we went by for lunch again and were still happy. So, I guess it passed our taste test!






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Hotel Aida Opera, Paris


This is the web site official photo. We didn’t bother to take one, as much of it is covered with scaffolding right now



Cadet metro station

Hotel Aida Opera

11 rue Richer (9th),

Metro: Line 7 Cadet; Line 8 and 9 Bonne Nouvelle, or Grands Boulevards

This was our first time to stay in this hotel and on this trip we stayed here a few days, then left for the Canary Islands and then came back to Paris and this hotel again for a few days. It’s a couple of short blocks from the Folies Bergere. At first sight, in the rain, the neighborhood seems a little drab but it comes alive later and actually seems to be quite a ‘happening’ area with many bars, cafes and restaurants. The hotel, on a corner, has 6 floors but 2 or 3 are being renovated right now, so there’s some serious construction going on—a bit noisy at times, especially in the morning and especially in the rooms facing the street.



Looking out the lift down into the courtyard

All the staff in reception are very friendly and helpful and went out of their way to find a shuttle to the airport for us. Breakfast is offered for 10 euro but we didn’t take any. They also have free snacks between 3-6pm, which we also didn’t sample as we were never there at that time. We booked through and price was very reasonable.

The lobby is bright, with a painted fiber-glass horse and armchairs. There’s a new lift (elevator) on the edge of an inner courtyard, painted with bold, bright geometric patterns.

The first days we were in a room facing the street on the 6th floor, which has recently been done up. It was quite a large room, for Paris, and very comfortable, with a great bed and pillows. The walls upstairs are also painted in bright floral-type patterns, and the wall behind the bed in our room had an interesting geometric painted design. Rather nice. There was a new shower, which was great, but a rather small hand basin. The room had a fridge but no electric hot water kettle.


On the return days we had a room on the first floor facing the courtyard, so it was much quieter. It was a very large room, almost like a mini suite, with both fridge and kettle. Its only problem was a leaking shower.

When we are back in Paris we’d definitely like to return here.

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