April 23, 2009

Frenchwoman Valérie Schlumberger—a part-time resident of Île de Gorée, off the coast of Dakar—is bringing African culture and style to Paris. On behalf of her organization, La Compagnie du Sénégal et de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (www.csao.fr), Schlumberger has opened several storefronts on Rue Elzévir, in the Marais. La Boutique (1-3 Rue Elzévir) is a bazaar stocked with imported goods: handwoven cotton bedspreads, platters fashioned from tin cans, baroque resin furniture, batik fabrics. German-Nigerian singer Ayoo regularly lives up to her billing as "the soul music revelation of the year" at Le Jokko (No. 5), a languid bar and performance space down the street. Lychee ice cream and grouper with cassava and rice are some of the native specialties prepared at Le Petit Dakar (No. 6; lunch for two $41). And La Galerie 3A (Nos. 15-17) exhibits driftwood sculptures, beadwork, and reverse paintings on glass, all by emerging African artists.
—Christopher Petkanas

Le Petit Dakar

On Rue Elzévir in the Marais district, near Rue des Francs-Bourgeois with its boutiques and Renaissance architecture, Valerie Schlumberger created La Compagnie du Sénégal et de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (Company of Senegal and West Africa) and Le Petit Dakar, which offers Senegalese and other cuisine. Its dark-gray façade contains two large windows, each with 21 panes, and “Le Petit Dakar” in gold lettering above the French doors. Inside, African art lends bursts of color to the cream walls around the natural-wood tables, chairs, and benches. The authentic cuisine includes yassa (chicken marinated in lemon and onions) and thiéboudiènne, Senegal's national dish that is made of rice with fish.

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