Paris Logue readers may remember my first foray into the Goutte d’Or environs. Technically speaking Rue du Chateau d’Eau and Blvd. de Strasbourg aren’t part of the Goute d’Or neighborhood (which spans the 18th arrond from Barbes to Chateau Rouge to La Chapelle.
Metro: Chateau d’Eau is located in the 10th arrond, just before you get to the Gare de l’Est on the Porte d’Orleans-Clignancourt #4 Metro line. Goutte d’Or or ‘Golden Drop’ (the name of a white wine) is the name given to this multi-cultural working class neighborhood in Paris.
Chris and I had just returned from Kampala where Annette and her friends had really done a number on me. I’m talking hair weaving – big time hair weaving. It started off as a simple request – do you know anybody who does hair weaving? So Julie shows up on the doorstep around 10 am. Annette, Julie and another friend went to work. They brought lots of hair, long hair. From 10 am to 4 pm (without stopping for lunch) they braided and talked and braided and talked.
What they did was amazing. If you don’t know already, hair braiding is an artform – extraordinary. And if you’re ever in Kampala, I would definitely recommend you get in touch with Annet (which is definitely possible if you leave a comment).
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In the meantime, we’re back in Paris and eventually as all good things come to an end, so does a braid. You can wash your braids in the shower, but eventually they get pretty scraggly looking – so how do you get ‘unbraided’? Well, you go to Chateau d’Eau, Metro, of course.
So, we walk out of the Metro stop and immediately as we exit, I hear all this yelling and screaming. What’s the commotion? Have we walked into the middle of a riot? Then I realized the yelling and screaming is directed directly at us. And out of all the yelling, I start to pick out a few words like ‘tresse’, ‘coiffure’, ‘nate’.
‘Tresser’ means to weave or to braid. ‘Nate’ is another word used for braid. Finally the noise takes meaning. These are touts for hair salons that line Blvd. de Strasbourg and Rue du Chateau d’Eau.
If you’ve been reading the latest about up-and-coming neighborhoods, the entire northeast sector of Paris (18th and 10th) i.e Goutte d’Or, Belleville, Montmartre have become hot real estate prospecting areas. For those of us who are just tourists, you may or may not want to explore the neighborhoods, but I assure you you will definitely get a totally different perspective than the typical ‘Champs Elysees-Eiffel Tower-Notre Dame’ perspective.
So, far, one of the best descriptions I’ve read of the Goutte d’Or neighborhood is IvyParis’s “Paris Style Walk on the Wild Side” which is really focused on the 18th arrond. Metro: Chateau Rouge, a little farther north. If you decide to visit Chateau d’Eau, don’t forget to stop in at one of the Flo Group’s flagship brasseries, the Cafe/Brasserie Flo on rue des Petites Ecuries.
You might want to think twice about booking a hotel here (I’m not quite that adventurous!) But if you’re planning on doing a day walk, be sure to check out Heather Stimmler Halls description of the ‘hood’.
To finish the story about the hair braid: I stopped in at several hair salons to get price quotes. I met a charming hair stylist from Guinea. However, I finally decided to go back home in the boring 14th and spend the next three days unbraiding my hair. Next time I get my hair braided, I think I’ll fly back to Kampala. It’s as good an excuse as any to visit a great city: the Pearl of Africa.