Monday, March 30, 2009

Marche au Puces

Today we went to the Marche au Puces which translates to the market of
the fleas. Yep, the original flea market, so named because the clothes
you would buy there would inevitably give you fleas. Color me dubious
that I will really enjoy this.

But I've never been before and we had a few articles with trusted
reccomendations, so off we went.

Hmmmm, how to describe? Approach from metro stop: Tijuana. First
section of the market we found: Santee Alley downtown L.A. (part Canal
Street NYC). Then we consulted our maps and articles better and veered
off into a labirynth of stacked high, may be good, may be bad, most
certain I can't tell, wow-oh-wow, filled stall after stall after stall.

After about 2 hours, we all had high hopes of finding that one unique
special treasure that, though certain we would personaly pay to much
for, still would seem like a bargain to us. For Richard it was a
silver tureen with an amazing array of sculpted seafood decorating the
ornate lid. Price:€23,000. Lyle went decidedly smaller at the same
shop and coveted a pepper mill that had a delicate sculpture of little
woman on top of it. Price:€290.

Christine and I were decidedly more centered on art. I selected what I
thought was a stunning painting of a cliché parisean street scene with
Sacre Couer rising behind the buildings. The shop keeper eagerly told
me all about the artist, the scene, and why the value was the price it
was... I guess. Because he told me all in French. And all I heard was
"Sacre Couer... blah blah blah... Artiste... blah blah blah...
€2000... blah blah blah..."

Christine had her heart attatched to a stunning designer jacket that
she would neither try on, nor ask the price of. Judging from the
surrounding Galiano hip-high lavender croc boots and exquisite Chanel
handbags (I even examined an Hermes vintage silkn scarf for €260) she
may have been wise to walk away without knowing it was a perfect fit.
In the end she is the only person who actually made the only purchase
of the day collecting a beautiful print for €40 which they told her
not to roll. So she carried that awkward parcel with her for the rest
of the day. She's quite the trouper!

We did see the small cafe tucked into the end where legend has it,
Edith Piaf was discovered singing for her supper standing atop a table.

We paused for a very quick bite at a tragic snack shack and had
amazing sandwiches of pate with cornichons, ham and cheese, and a
croque mousier. Everyone had a sandwich and a beverage for €27 total.
That's around what we'd been spending per person for dinner each night.

We hit a few more stalls in another market (I think there are over 9
HUGE full markets, one after the other after the other) and finally my
brain could take in no more! Ok, except I am still obsessed about
that Hermes orange steamer trunk that would look amazing in my dining

We left the fleas behind and took the metro to Gare Du Nord (train
station North). We walked outside and gazed up at the architecture and
soaked in its beauty. The we walked to Gare D'Est (train station
East). Lyle finaly explained that the name has nothing to do with the
location in the city, but rather which directions the departing trains
will go. OH! I'd always wondered why they were so close, yet named
for being futher away.

We sat and had a coffee in a very cliché Paris sidewalk cafe. Today
was sunny and a nice day to people watch. After, we wander/walked to
the Paris Opera. Another stunning, can't miss, prime Paris building.

As luck (or terrific plotting on my part) would have it, that also
placed us at the Galleries Lafayette. Paris's giant department store.
With 4 floors of menswear taking up a full city block, and half of it
on sale, the hour we'd given ouselves was never going to be enough. I
did a quick tour (12 minutes per floor, 2 minutes for escalator time
to change floors, and a smidge extra for fondeling a belt or jacket
here and there). I will go back when I have fresher feet, a sharper
mind and not so heavy a coat to carry!

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