Market Day On Rue Ordener

Early Morning Market on Rue Ordener

Stalls are setting up to a symphony of clanking, banging, rustling and the turning of trolley wheels. The twice weekly fermentation of noise and frenzied motion signals one thing, market day on Rue Ordener.

Setting up for market day on Rue Ordener

Opposite Tabac La Reinitas, crates of ice are being wheeled to and from a nearby lock up. A teenage girl wearing in-ear white headphones, a mass of unruly mahogany curls piled on top of her head like a pineapple pushes an empty upright trolley with one hand. She casually reaches into the pocket of her jeans, pulling out a phone. The screen glows in the lightless early morning as she checks her messages. Her spare hand shoves the trolley carelessly through a scruffy lock up doorway, banging into the side. The lock up is piled high with crated fruit, vegetables and ice.

The icehouse

Weather eroded yellow warning stickers adorn the entrance the trolley has just scraped. The protective metal shutter used at night is still only three quarters of the way up, creating the appearance of a tired drooping eyelid. She ducks and pauses underneath it, continuing to check her phone before disappearing inside. I drink my espresso to the sound of her shovelling fragments of crushed ice. A in steady, reliable rhythm of shash, shash, shash reverberates hypnotically across the street for the next few minutes. An early morning market day mantra.

It must be cold in there but she exits wearing only a white t-shirt, her oversized woollen cardigan now tied around her waist in a forlorn, lethargic knot. She manoeuvres the trolley, stacked with four green plastic crates full of ice towards a table of sliced watermelon. I feel cold just looking at the crates. She casually tips each box of ice upside down onto the adjacent table. Her hands work swiftly to position quarters of melon on top of the icy carpet. They sit, one next to the other. Rows of unfeasibly wide, green lipped smiles, grinning inanely at the new day.

Market day preparation

Next to her, at Fruits Halles de Montmartre Legumes, a young man in his early twenties pauses. He steps back from the table covered in artificial grass that he has been working on. Hand on hip, he looks down, contemplating the wooden boxes stacked on top of each other. Crates of identical, cantaloupe melons stare back up at him. He bends, lifting, each box in turn, arranging them first horizontally before changing his mind and placing them vertically on the fake grass table. The melons sit side to side against a chaotic mound of loose bananas heaped on top of each other. A slow trickle of customers begin to emerge. A woman wearing a purple anorak palpates one of the plump, ruddy vine tomatoes he has moved onto unloading at the next table. He continues stacking and unpacking.

Early morning shoppers hurry by with baguettes wrapped in ornate white and brown paper bags from the artisan boulangerie down the road. A buttery scent rides on the morning air intermittently. Brief greetings pass between customers at the cafe “Bonjour.” A nod. A smile. Laughter. The shaking of hands. Coffee, company and the beginnings of a new day on Rue Ordener.