Avenida Libertador (@ Cementerio de la Recoleta)
This man "El Cogonel" wants to entertain you. Rowdy performances are a regular sight in the Plaza Francia. Photo by Clare Nisbet.
During weekends, this is a popular porteño destination for lingering over mate and listening to whichever informal band has set up shop in the grassy areas. Extensive people-watching is openly indulged as crowds wander through the park, especially when the weather is agreeable. During the week Plaza Francia is merely and obstacle on the way to other places, but on Saturday and Sunday it becomes a destination in itself. The long, circling pathways are lined with artisans selling their crafts. Almost everything sold here is handmade and sells at all-too-reasonable prices. From wooden toys to jewelry, artwork, handknit shawls and sweaters, shoes and silver-crafts, tourists are bound to find a trinket to take home with them.
As one wanders away from Avenida Libertador uphill towards the cemetery, they’ll begin to smell warm butter and sugar, as if someone was baking cookies. Just like several other locations around the city, there are stalls upon stalls selling freshly sugared and roasted peanuts and almonds. Get a bag that is still warm to really enjoy this porteño treat instead of processed and packaged like back home.
Homemade sandwiches, cakes, and pies can also be bought from one of the informal card-table set ups. Food here is as authentic as it gets if you can’t finagle an invite into an acutal porteño home. It’s generally safe to eat here, but be extra careful on your choices during the hot summer months of January and February as food can spoil quickly.
Plazas are the ultimate city pastime, and this Recoleta location makes Plaza Francia one of the best and most used in town.
—Plaza Francia review by Gena Mavuli