This article was originally published in 2012. It has been updated.
Seattle can be absolutely magnificent in the summer, beautiful summer skies, greens and blues everywhere I look. Locals are relaxed, enjoying summer parties, barbecues, or trips to the beach.
One of the best places to experience the Emerald City is the Pike Place Market neighborhood. It is colorful and vibrant, and packed on weekends (especially during summer months, with the onslaught of cruise ship passengers and tourists.) Finding fresh produce, locally-grown flowers, seafood and local crafts there year round is another perk. The concentration of French eateries in the area also makes it an appealing option when I feel homesick. Maximilien. Café Campagne. Le Pichet. Le Panier bakery: What would French expats and local francophiles do without you?
But in the end, the Market is simply a wonderful spot to indulge in a favorite guilty pleasure: people watching. I never go without bringing my faithful sidekick, the Panasonic Lumix LX7 with me. The capable little device is so small and unobtrusive, most people think I am a tourist myself. When I do ask for permission, most strollers do not find it intimidating and are happy to oblige and strike a pose.
Today, instead of showing you the traditional stalls of Pike Place Market, I have decided to introduce you to some of the people I met there during recent outings. Mes amis du marché. They live there, work there, or are just visiting. No matter. The market would not be the same without them. Are you ready? Allons-y…
First, meet the friendly Pike Place Market merchants…
|Le marchand d’huile d’olive
(The olive oil seller)
|La pause cigarette…
|Les marchands de fruits et légumes
(fruit and vegetable sellers)
|“Goûtez mes pâtes parfumées!”
(“Sample my flavored pasta!”)
Les habitués. Regulars. The musicians and artists of Pike Place market.
|Déjeuner au Panier
(Lunch at the Panier French bakery)
|Elles aiment les fleurs!
|La dame et le chien
(The lady and the dog)
Just a few steps away, north of Pike Place Market, is a wonderful urban park, Victor Steinbrueck Park, pictured at the top of this post. The place screams Seattle: Expansive mountains and water views, quirky characters, laid-back vibe.
|Brad Pitt à Seattle?|
|L’Artiste des rues
(The street artist)
Taking a trip to Pike Place Market, a beloved local landmark, is a Northwest tradition. I never tire of it. It is my favorite spot downtown. It appeals to all my senses and provides a much-needed “urban fix” for this unabashed city girl. To get there, I ignore the long drive out of suburbia, the much coveted and overpriced parking spots, and the crowds.
The Market neighborhood is friendly and colorful, but I also love its gritty side (Gum Wall; graffiti, anyone?) Try it next time you are in town. You have met some of my friends, but there are other fun characters and places to see: Rachel the Pig. Flying fish. The original Starbucks store…