I’m so excited to share with you my first Color in the City pen pal, Isabelle Boucq,
who sent me a glimpse of her neighborhood, the Sentier, in Paris!
I met Isabelle Boucq, an accomplished writer, at a unique little house party in Berkeley (thank you, David!) where she showcased several California musicians who contributed to a movie which she also worked on called California Dream by Cameron Hughes. We’ve been corresponding every since, so I asked her to send me a brief description of the part of Paris she calls home along with a few photos. I added a color palette, of course, and can’t wait to check out her arrondissement myself! ‘Til then, here’s what she sent me about her Color in the City worthy life….
The Sentier, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, is not an area where you will bump into many tourists. Known as the garment district since the 19th century (several scenes from Balzac’s novels are set in the area), it is a succession of wholesale stores displaying the coming season’s fashion.
The neighborhood is perpetually out of sync, showcasing warm coats and heavy sweaters in the summer and light dresses and capris in the heart of winter.
For a while in the 90s, it became known as the Silicon Sentier, a desirable area for French start-ups attracted by the telecommunication infrastructure originally set up for the nearby Bourse, the stock exchange, in Palais Brongniart.
Cheap rent for large spaces increasingly vacated by sewing workshops also helped attract high-tech companies including Yahoo. Despite a slow decline, the neighborhood is still a lively hub with delivery trucks regularly backing up traffic in its network of narrow streets, some of them named for French military victories in Egypt in the 1790s (rue du Caire, rue d’Alexandrie, rue d’Aboukir where Napoleon briefly lived). Pakistani men stand on street corners and squares waiting to get hired to do odd jobs.
This year, peachy, rosy colors are the dominant colors in the windows of the Sentier.
Isabelle Boucq studied journalism at the University of Oregon, obtaining a master’s there before the digital revolution.
For the past 15+ years, she has written for French and American publications about high tech, business and travel among other topics. With her husband and two sons, she lives alternatively in Paris and in California.