Today we saw both ends of the spectrum of Parisian society. After Scotty got back from class we decided to head north to the 18th ere to the famed Marché aux Puces de Clignanecourt. We had read about this in a great little book called The Markets of Paris. In the book we were warned that we would have to wade through some junk to get to the good stuff: the antiques, old silver, classic dishes, curiosities, furniture. But I don’t think we were adequately prepared for the vast swaths of illegal designer knock offs, men selling things out of the back of vans, booths stuffed with clothes that would sell well in the Watts neighborhood of LA. It was crazy. I kept saying, “Where’s the good stuff?” We finally stumbled upon a huge maze of little shops. It was very much worth the journey. I didn’t take many pictures because I get a bit shy in these situations but we will go back and I will take some pictures. The market is open from Saturday through Monday and if you were renovating a home or redecorating it would be the place to go. Gorgeous antiques at good prices (less 20% if you’re exporting!!!), beautiful light fixtures, old china, vintage traveling trunks. Having always lived in old houses I have gained such an appreciation for things that have a story. There is just something about filling a home with items that bring with them some history. I remember being about 9 or 10 years old and a friend of mine had just moved into a new home in a new development and I was totally taken by the “newness” of it all. Everything was clean, smelled new, was bright. And I decided that I wanted to live in a new house some day – enough with all the old houses and their idiosyncrasies. I’d seen my parents sweating it out in our old house – I’d pitched in on peeling off multiple layers of decaying wall paper. I knew old houses were a lot of work and I was going to wash my hands of it as soon as I was able! In the intervening 20 or so years I’ve come around to my parents way of thinking. Yes, new houses and things are bright and shiny but I’ve fallen for the charm of an antique (as they call houses that are over 100 years old in New England). The creaky dinged up floors, the built-in bookshelves, funny little nooks and crannies, crown moldings, shingled and clapboard sidings, it all has cast its spell over me. Even though I’m fully aware of how much work they are and that these charming little abodes can be full-time headaches with damp basements, faulty wiring, and a whole host of other grievances. I guess you could say I am a romantic when it comes to this stuff. So this market was a paradise to me. And I can’t wait to go back…not that we’ll be buying much, it’s just fun to look. Here are two pictures I took of one especially charming shop in the market:
Following our walk through about 1/10th of the market we caught the metro back to our apartment and got ready to go to dinner with an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since 1998. Clem spent a summer on Cape Cod back in 1996 and spent a lot of time with my family. When my family visited Paris in 1998 Clem and her family were amazing hosts – taking us to “classically Parisian” restaurants where we were clearly the only foreigners. Clem’s father is full of fascinating information about Paris and it’s history and buildings. And the entire family is very hospitable, generous, interesting and engaging. So I was very much looking forward to seeing my old friend (who thanks to the magic of Facebook, I had been able to reconnect with). We made our way over to her family’s lovely home for pre-dinner champagne and snacks with Clem, her brother and mom and dad. Mr. Bechu gave us lots of tips on places to visit in Paris and the surrounding area. Afterwards, Clem, Scotty and I headed to Le Congres Auteuil, a classic French brassarie that has been there since 1900! The food was delicious, conversation so incredibly interesting, and it was so much fun to reconnect with an old friend. We’re going to be visiting Clem again in the cave where she and her boyfriend have recently started a business, Wine Sitting, that is involved in all aspects of wine – from bottle to delivery. It’s a fascinating concept and we’re looking forward to visiting a cave large enough to store 18,000 bottles of some of the best wines in France.
By the time we got home at 12:30 we were exhausted – having seen a few sides of Paris’ multifaceted personality our appreciation for this city has only grown.