French Market Brings Out the Weekend Crowds
By October 4, 2021 0 290•
Georgetown shops, eateries and the temporarily expanded sidewalks along Wisconsin Avenue from N St up to Book Hill on Reservoir Road NW, were filled Friday through Sunday, Oct. 1 to 3, with nicely dressed strolling shoppers, families and tourists — some of them speaking French.
They were by all appearances, eagerly enjoying the 18th annual Georgetown French Market, put on by the Georgetown Business Improvement District, and delighting in the unusually balmy early fall weekend with temperatures in the 70s and a blue sky filled with white fluffy clouds.
“I wish we could have an event like this every month,” Krista Johnson, towner of Ella Rue vintage clothes and gifts shop at 3231 P St. NW told the Georgetowner. But the normally chatty shop keeper and her sister Alexandra were too busy to talk much. They had just hung a long row of French flags across the cobbled stone street in front of their shop (replacing the rows of American flags they had hung during the 9/11 memorial a few weeks earlier). Now, they had to attend to the dozens of shoppers combing through their sidewalk and inside display racks and tables.
“Can you tell us where the French bakeries are and the performers?” asked an international family with French accents and the women wearing colorful saris. After turning the corner on Wisconsin Avenue, jam packed with cars, they quickly disappeared into the throng of visitors and balloon art creators, mimes and performers — some of them on stilts. A long line of tables displayed special items in front of shops up and down the block towards Book Hill. The Lutheran church on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Volta Place gave out snacks and water and welcomed visitors into the historic stone building that traces its roots there to the 1700s.
“There definitely were thousands of people involved in the French Market this year, happy to have it in person rather than a virtual event as it was last year,” said BID Events Director Debbie Young. “Pedestrian counters will give us more exact numbers. But the hustle and bustle was fun and visible.”
All the Wisconsin Avenue eateries’ outdoor tables appeared full. Some of their sidewalk services have become permanent features as a result of the pandemic and D.C.’s investment in movable platforms called “streateries” that have expanded the reach and night life of many Georgetown cafes, restaurants and hyper-local food establishments. The success and popularity of outdoor eating during the pandemic have many owners wondering how to weather-proof their streateries for the coming winter. Shop keepers are contemplating more sidewalk displays and sales on the expanded sidewalks up and down Wisconsin Avenue — although they were installed just temporarily for the French Market event on Book Hill on the east side of the avenue between Q and R Streets NW.
But Young also acknowledged that traffic and parking congestion had increased as well “We encourage using public transportation, especially the circulator busses, biking and walking.,” she said. “There are so many options for Georgetown residents and guests to get there.”
That being said, there also were lots of events in D.C. this weekend — including the closing of the COVID memorial flag exhibit in front of the Washington Monument, the pro-abortion Woman’s March on Saturday and the Nationals baseball home games over the weekend that attracted visitors in cars. No special arrangements for French Market satellite parking had been made, said Young who added, “Maybe that’s something to consider next year.”
“Georgetown is the perfect backdrop for events like these,” Johnson said. “We need more events like these to bring in business.”