The kids are still in school until the beginning of July. They begin to make their way to school at around 8:30 in the morning.Their parents walk them there as they make their way to work. The kids look just like American school kids - backpacks and lunch boxes, shorts and t-shirts, riding scooters or bikes, laughing and skipping. They do not head home from school until 4:00 however. I'm not sure if they are in school all that time or if they all go to after school programs, but they hit the streets en masse at that time. They head home and dump their stuff and are out to play right away.
They play ball, ride scooters and skateboards, play at the neighborhood park and generally run around. No adults to supervise, no big kids looking out for the little siblings, just kids playing like kids do.
The grown ups in this neighborhood are all ages, ethnicities, shapes, sizes and colors. They speak different languages, as many as I've ever heard, most seem to speak French as well. The young college age kids walk around on their cell phones seemingly in a hurry to who knows where. The older men lean against the buildings and talk. The women lean out the windows of their apartments and yell down to whomever they need for whatever they need. The kids ignore them all and just play.
Cars make their way down the narrow streets, but not all the time. People definitely walk and take public transportation around here. They also rent bikes that are parked in sections of the streets every few blocks. They swipe a card, unlock the bike and ride away. They swipe the card again when they get where they are going and lock it back up. It's awesome! The Metro is at the corner and the trains come every couple of minutes. It's not too expensive (cheaper than a car for sure!) And so convenient! Why would you want to own a car?
There are markets on every corner. I've discovered a great fruit and veggie stand, a market called Picard where they have only frozen foods (not lean cuisine type foods - really cool things) and the Simply Market that is like a small American grocery store. There are many, many stores in the neighborhood. The pharmacy for health aid stuff, the Mega Lots for household goods, clothing stores specific to ethnicity, shoe stores, and lots and lots of stores where there is a desk, a computer and a phone with someone sitting there looking busy. I have no idea what these businesses are. People go in and out all day so they must be doing something! There are lots of bistros and cafes and bakeries as well. Everything you need or want is at your fingertips.