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Indian Quarter in Paris

Indian Quarter in Paris

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There are no boundaries as to where the area, which the people from sub-continent call the Indian Quarter, begins. But you are sure to know you are in it when the sweet, tantalizing aromas from the kitchens of many Indian restaurant starts to haunt you everywhere. Thus begins your invitation to the trip to mini India in Paris.

 

Shops_at_indian_quarter_paris

Indian quarter is the area loosely tied between La Chapelle, Gare du Nord and Gare de L'Est.

 

I had been to Indian restaurant in Paris before. But those restaurants are situated in the beaux quartiers. The menu is almost always à la carte except for those restaurants that have an office-going clientèle and offer standard, structured meals as well. These restaurants are representative of a North Indian Gastronomy- made famous by the punjabi tandoori dishes (marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices and prepared in 'tandoor' - a clay stove) and Indian flat breads (naan, paratha etc.). If one were to search for a quick bite of a dosa or an uttapam, it would be almost impossible to find them at restaurants such as these. Indian Restaurant at Paris


I was first introduced to Quartier Indien by a friend who attended Sorbonne with me. At her behest, I went to one of those small, unassuming restaurant for an evening tea with snacks. Called 'New Pondicherry' , this was a small, basic food joint. It evoked nostalgia. Having spent some time in Bangalore and Chennai, this place reminded me of small road side joints. At such joints, one can eat to one's heart content without feeling a pinch on the pocket. The presentation of the place and items are kept to only what is needed, doing away with the frills but making up by offering you a good meal at an affordable price.


Snacks at Indian Restaurant in PAris

The delicious aromas made me hungry despite the hour being suitable more for a tea than a meal. The price was tempting too. To give you an idea, the snacks items (vada, bonda, idli, cutlet etc cost around 1€) and a thali (with five to six subzi- side dishes of vegetables/ lentils costs around 6€).

 

Settling down for a vada and chai, I kept looking at the card to let the warmth of that inexplicable feeling of being at home soak in- - the dosas and the idlis, the vadas and the uttapams, appams and malabar parathas, I knew I could not leave the place soon enough! I got some stuff packed for relishing at home. Once outside, I let the feeling of being in an Indian town settle in.

One can find some stores selling telephone cards. These calling cards cost somewhere between 4 and 6€. Offering a talk time of 240 minutes, such cards offer a cost effective way for calling India. With a competitive telecommunication sector in France, most of the service providers offer local calls for free (on paying a monthly subscription for Telephone/ Internet and Cable). Thus having a calling card means one can make calls to India for the cost of only the telephone card. Euro-Latina is one such card that I have found relatively better than some others that I used.*

 

In the Indian Quarter, you are in a mini India. Bill boards are in English and Tamil. The Indian diaspora in France is represented to a large extent by Tamils- mostly those that came to France after accession of the French colonial territory of Pondicherry to India.

Over decades, these people have kept the Indian culture alive right here in Paris by bringing their Indian roots to their skills- be it in restaurants, clothes' boutiques, jewelry shops, grocery stores, movies or even tailoring.

Jewelry Store at Indian Quarter in Paris

 

Sari Store at Indian Quarter in Paris

 

There are Sari boutiques proudly displaying the colourful saris in their show windows.

 

(this photo on right is a display of Indian attire at one of the boutiques in the Quarter)


The DVD and music stores will surprise you with their collection- from oldies to the latest blockbuster, they have them all. The cost is attractive too at as less as €1-€2 per DVD, you could not ask for more. Well, actually, on a hind thought, one could ask for better subtitling! The French subtitles on such DVDs are extremely poor, to say the least. The better option for the viewer is English subtitles- a less bitter potion for entertainment Bollywood style! 


 

Feel like having a paan ? Or want to buy some toor daal for sambhar? Not a problem. Welcome to the grocery stores in the Indian quarter. From vegetables like drum sticks, 'indian onions', lady-fingers, fresh coriander, curry leaves to Parachute coconut hair oil, Johnson's baby shampoo, Fair & Lovely cream to Sunsilk, you name it, they have it all. A wide range of dry ground and whole spices, daal, rice, atta, dry fruits, packed and tinned foods, ready-to-eat varieties are available.

Frozen food section in such stores offers a variety of parathas, snacks such as samosa, vada, batata vada, idli and cutlets, desserts such as kulfi are also available.

(this photo on the left is a 'thali' at one of the restaurants. the cost? €6.50!)

 

thali at Indian Restaurant

Mithai at Indian quarter in Paris
Feel like celebrating and do not know where to get the Mithai from ? In addition to the sweets counter at grocery store, there are several sweet shops dedicated to selling freshly prepared Mithai. Kaju rolls, laddu, barfi or gulab jamun, one can buy either per piece or by weight.


Such are the trappings of the Indian quarter. One can get lost in it just trying to make-believe that one is in India. A trip down the memory lane, a hearty meal at one of its numerous restaurants, a DVD or two of the latest Bollywood flick, life in Paris can get as close to India as possible.

 

*Details of the places mentioned in this article (addresses & how to reach):

Indian Quarter

La Chapelle

Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)
Bus: 48, 65, 302, 350, 519 (Bus stop: Place de la Chapelle)

 

Gare du Nord

Metro: Gare du Nord (Line 4, 5)
Bus: 26, 33, 38, 39, 46, 48, 54, 65, 350 (Bus stop: Gare du Nord)
RER: B & D (Station: Gare du Nord)

 

Gare de L'Est

Metro: Gare de L'Est (Line 4, 5, 7)
Bus: 30, 31, 38, 39, 46, 47, 56, 65, 350 (Gare de L'Est)
SNCF: Gare de L'Est

 

Grocery, Vegetables & Convenience Store

 

V.S. Cash & Carry

197 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. , 75010
Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)
Bus: 48, 65, 302, 350, 519 (Bus stop: Place de la Chapelle)

 

V.T. Cash & Carry

11-15 rue Cail, 75010
Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)

 

Some Restaurants in Quartier Indien

Krishna-Bhavan

24 Rue Cail, 75010
Tel.: +33(0)1 42057843
Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)

 

Chettinadu Restaurant

15 rue Cail, 75010
Tel: +33 (0) 140 34 49 17
Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)

 

Ganesha Restaurant

14, rue Perdonnet, 75010
Tel: +33 (0)1.46078790
Metro: La Chapelle (Line 2)

 

Palais des Rajpouts

66 Passage Brady, 75010
Tel: +33 (0)1.42462375
Metro: Chateau d'Eau (Line 4)

 

Jaipur Café

15-17, rue des Messageries, 75010
Tel: +33 (0) 1 48 01 06 00
Metro: Poisonnière (Line 7)

 

* Since February 2009, several Telephone-Internet service providers have extended their all-inclusive offer to cover land-line calls to India. Subscribers to Free (website in French) or SFR- Neuf Telecom (website in French) can now call India from anywhere in France (landline to landline) without incurring an additional cost.

 

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