On the crossroads from East to West
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Rue de la Gaité, situated in the 14th arrondisement (district) of Paris, is home to numerous cafes, restaurants, theatres and even a music hall. It is a very vibrant part of the district and city. On the weekends, it is packed with flocks of young people, couples and all those who wish to get rid of the hustle, bustle and stress of the week. Rue de la Gaité is also known for its plethora of Asian restaurants. You will find, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and many other Asian outlets on every side of the street. One is truly spoilt for choice over there.
One can witness a tight knitted community of second and first generation immigrants, each proud of the unique flavours being served at their respective restaurants. The aromas filled in the streets, make visiting this part of the district all the more wholesome. These set of restaurants, add a lot of colour to the street and complement the rest of the establishments in an almost harmonious manner.
On the other side of this vibrant street is Rue d’Odessa that eventually leads to the Montparnasse Bienvenue metro station. Rue d’Odessa is slightly more commercial as it consists of more boutiques, bakeries, residential building and even a cyber café. Although, what makes this street stand out is the chain on crepe shops/restaurants. You can treat yourself to a variety of crepes, at almost any time of the day. It is rather evident that all these restaurants do compete and try their level best to stand out. This could be in the form of a change in their interior décor or serving something special on their menu. However, just like Rue de la Gaité, one can witness healthy competition, a sense of community and belonging.
There are two things I learnt from observing this area of the 14th arrondisement. The first is that, healthy competition truly leads to growth. It would be very difficult to find a seat at any of the above mentioned restaurants and eateries at times, as each have their own unique selling point. The competitive spirit is very likely thrived upon, in the spirit to be more innovative and eventually grow. Secondly, the two streets that are perhaps not more than 150 feet apart is almost living proof of how people from different walks of life, race, and identity can live in harmony after all.
All photo credits: Julien Giovannoni