Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Always dreamed about going to India but just got stuck in Paris? Well, pretend to be a “Slumdog Millionaire” for a day and discover the hub of the French capital’s “Little India”, the passage Brady.
Welcome to Little India in the heart of Paris. Here, everything is different and exotic: the smell, the colours, the atmosphere. The Passage Brady, well hidden between rue du Faubourg-St-Martin and rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, is lined with Indian restaurants, grocers’ shops, even barbers.
In case you need a Sari for Halloween, some fenugreek for an Indian dish or a cheap haircut? Here you go. Or you just want to feel like being in the suburbs of Mumbai in the evening? Then this is your place. Or what about organizing a hot and spicy Bollywood night? Here you can get everything you need: the DVD’s of the most kitschy musical comedies at Bollywood Univers and the ingredients for your Chicken Tikka Masala at Velan boutique.
Everything started when Monsieur Ponnoussamy opened the first Indian restaurant here in 1973. Since then, a lot of countryman have followed him. Today it’s hard to tell the difference between the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi fellows who will all promise you the meal of your life for nothing. The best one? It’s the same difference, if you ask me. But everybody says it’s Pooja – don’t expect it to be haute cuisine though.
The passage Brady actually is one of the vestiges of the transformation of Paris at the beginning of the 19th century when Baron Haussmann, the mastermind of the modernization of Paris, cut the grand boulevards into the urban tissue. The construction of covered passages between the boulevards was part of this huge transformation. Nobody else has described is with more intelligence and sensibility than the German philosopher Walter Benjamin in his unfinished “The Arcades Project”.
Sadly, most of the passages have been renovated to the point that you wonder if there are supposed to look like Disney, Orlando. They are clinically dead, without soul. But there is one exception: the passage Brady. It’s rotten, it’s a bit dingy, but honestly, this what gives it its charm. But for how long? Not forever, that’s for sure.