An October evening so mild that you can sit outside comfortably for a drink and a meal. Sky clear and still quite light at 8 pm although it is already dark down here on the edge of the place. It’s an old market place – the covered market has been replaced by a five storey glass and steel building with a shallow pitched roof and central arcade lit by a glass skylight. So it has reference to the old building. There is still one bar and bistro from the old days; they are shut at the weekend. The bar Le Rubis serves plates of charcuterie and cheese, and a huge list of wines; the bistro does enormous lunches of traditional French cuisine, and you have a napkin of similar proportions tied around your neck, all the better to enjoy it.


Some of the buildings here are 16th century; a big 18th century corner building was the club frequented by the Jacobin politicians during the Terror. Now American Apparel and Comme des Garcons Parfum, Italian restaurants and Audi cars sit behind sleek glass, and there is an underground car park. A trio of motorcyclists, their pillion passengers wearing headsets with microphones, roll past (reminds me of my great grandmother, towed behind my great grandfather’s motorbike in a wicker chariot; her only method of communication a rubber bulb motor horn).

Most nights the central area of the modern building has monocyclists or skateboarders practising their skills, rollerskaters whizz past and on three sides of the place the restaurants spread out onto the pavement.

A very pleasant meal of papardelle aigli spinaci, and two glasses of red wine.

Back in the Marais, it is Nuit Blanche, there are huge crowds outside several bars roaring support for France in the international rugby match against NZ All Blacks, and the whole street is buzzing. As I walk along a truck emerges from a side street, with a mobile DJ on the back, speakers dangling from a metal framework, broadcasting a strangely beautiful mix as it goes up St Antoine towards the rue Rivoli and the Hotel de Ville. Here in the hotel room I can hear whistles and shrieks from neighbouring apartments and cars tooting –  France has won!