On Sunday I had the chance to go to a “repas du quartier” – (neighbourhood meal). The deal is that it’s a meal somewhere in the locality, sometimes on tables in the streets, where everyone brings some food and shares it with whoever likes the look of it. Sunday’s repas took place in the local cultural centre, called “Confluences.” There our lentil salad and tzatziki were swapped for various pasta salads, some sizable hunks of cheese and some delicious brownies.

My description makes it sound a little like a battering stall – “I’ll give you a bit of French tart for some of your melons” but it is far from that. You stroll from table to table taking a pick at whatever you fancy. We got chatting to a woman with the most adorable little girl who kept getting chocolate moose on her nose. The mother had brought with her an entire roasted chicken wrapped in foil. It was just like having Sunday lunch with the neighbours.

The cultural centre used this opportunity to promote their programme for the year which included a season of plays, films, something else that a very passionate man spoke about at some length but which I failed to catch a word of, and photography exhibits. At the moment the centre is displaying a set of photos taken by a group of African photographers who were invited last year to come to the Twentieth and photograph the area.

One of the sets of photos was taken by a lady who set about approaching twenty different households and cooking them a meal. In each case a photo was taken, some at the table, some in the kitchen, all very warm photos, and almost all featuring the brightly coloured casserole dish that she brought the food in. Later, when clearing up our plates, we spotted that same casserole dish on a table. The photographer had long gone, her visa having expired soon after the final photo was taken, but the dish that she had used as her prop remains along with her pictures.

This photo display was one stop on a trail of photo exhibits around the 20eme arrondissement called “Nouvelles Africanaines”. We took a map and checked out some of the others. The image below shows a wall of photos donated by residents of a local hotel where the majority of the rooms were filled with families who lived there permanently.

I am really glad to have found out what’s on at Confluence and I am really looking forward to going back there soon to see a play next week.