La Goutte D’Or

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La Goutte D’Or translates from French to English as “a drop of gold” and it couldn’t be more true. I first heard about this area of Paris while here working as an assistant this week on a print campaign for a cell phone company from China. Our fixer, the amazing Sidney Kapuskar spoke about the community near Montmartre filled with Africans and Muslims, well known for it’s hustle & bustle, a fantastic mix of ethnicity, Bohemia and Culture, but also for coming to a virtual standstill Fridays between 1-3 pm during traditional Muslim prayertime, the streets taken over by prayer mats and Muslims bowed towards the East. A veritable combination of different spices ground together by the mortar and pestle of life. Ahh Paris, irresistible! My desire to visit was met with all kinds of reactions from Parisians and ex-pats alike. Everything from raised eyebrows, to be careful and watch yourself. Once we found ourselves there after winding through the narrow streets it couldn’t have been more worth it, I felt completely at home spying African women in a shop full of Kitenga fabric adjacent to a quirky Parisian boutique full of Moraccan and South American trinkets and an old school Parisian upholsterers. All this on a cobbled street so old that if you subtracted the cars from the view you could easily imagine A musketeers in full regalia darting out from an allyway.

The mood here is susceptible to darkness too. On one hand it can be seen as a gleeful melange of diverse social, religious, political and economical co-existence. The recent sting President Sarkozy sent into the Muslim Community by outlawing the covering of a woman’s face with a Burka as a sign of religion has been felt. Other outward signs of religion such as prayer mats on the street are also illegal, and although I was not there on a Friday afternoon, my sources tell me it still occurs much to the chagrin of many local proprieters whose businesses become inaccessible due to the closing of the streets. I myself was amazed at the sheer number of people, many locals, colorful characters, tourists and Parisians alike honing in on the area, the Metro was like a beehive swarm.

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La Metro at Barbes on Rue de Chapelle in the heart I’d La Goutte d’Or, the image belies the crowd and the sheer number of people

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No I am not in India, Montmartre on the edge of La Goutte d’Or signifies the cultural diversity of the area. There were crowds of tourists as well as young men hoping to sell illicit substances lurking on the periphery.

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A lone Muslim woman prays amidst the opulence of the Champs Élysée

As I am posting from my iPhone I will edit and add more images when I have access to my computer

Xxxx from Paris with love

Sent from my iPhone

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