for christmas, in anticpiation of my upcoming trip, my mom gave me a darling little book called markets of paris. filled with glorious pictures and lots of great information, it reminded me of my summer in Belgium so many years ago. i would often attend the farmers market with my grandpa and partake in all kinds of market goodness. as i looked eagerly through this book i couldn’t wait to go to another european market.
today we decided to go on a little market adventure. one of the markets in this book, the marche aux puces de saint-ouen, in other words flea market, happens to be a walk as well. two birds with one stone. we set off at about ten am in hopes of getting to the market in good time and before the big afternoon crowds hit the supposed biggest market of paris. we went all the way to the end of line four and met up with drew, james, and allison and got ready to set off on our adventure.
if you ever find yourself at a market in paris here are some things you should know:
1. usually you have to brave the super touristy, cheap merchandise, fake louis vuitton bag market before you actually hit the market you were meaning to get to. do not let scary men practically shoving fake purses and knock off perfumes in your face deter you from the goal.
2. if you enter any type of small store in paris, an antique store, a little bakery, a fruit stand, you absolutely must greet the storekeeper with a bonjour and when you leave give a kind 'merci, au revoir'. it is just the polite thing to do here
3. don't touch anything you don't intend to purchase
4. just because french people are sitting in antique chairs eating their lunches does not by any means give you permission to do the same
7. don't take any pictures, at least not while shopkeepers are looking
i actually got quite good at breaking this last rule today, and took quite a few pictures. mind you i was extremely discreet. nonetheless, the experience was definitely a new one. once we got past all the tourist markets and to the actual antique markets of les puces i was in heaven. there were so many things to looks at, so many little shops to explore, so many colors to take in and patterns to examine. this street actually has several different markets, each with thousands of things to see and several floors to explore. if i actually looked in every store the walk might have taken around three weeks, but we just meandered around, stopping when something looked especially interesting. i went about trying to discreetly take pictures of all the little things that were on sale in hopes of giving you a bit of a textural market experience. i really wanted to document all that i saw. there were so many good things.
my favorite part: vintage clothes
after we had had enough of antiques we decided to get back on the four and i found another interesting market in my little book just a few stops away. the marche barbes is a food market and it was a whole new world. we hit this market that is actually under the metro, which in this area is above ground on a bridge, just a little bit before it closed. this meant that everyone was selling for their lowest prices of the day and that it was absolutely PACKED. it was a totally different experience than the morning. although there were again so many colors and smells and sights to take in, we were literally shoving our way through a tiny aisle packed body to body with each vendor shouting out his prices, trying to be the loudest. we went from the quiet, peace of being surrounded by old things, each with a silent voice of their own to a market world where it was almost impossible to hear yourself think. though i know my dad wouldn't have survived it (claustrophobia!) considering it was worse than disneyland on the most crowded day, i quite enjoyed the experience. even stepping on all kinds of interesting remains of fruits and vegetables scattered on the floor. i managed to make it out with a beautiful basket of strawberries and some delicious and ripe tomatoes.
literally the only chance i had to take a picture
two different market experiences, each equally worthwhile. the markets of paris are a must!
dinner was delectable. fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. my favorite meal. and for dessert - chocolate covered strawberries. divine!
don't worry. we ate them all. why? becuase emily and i are trying to make sure we get our five-a-day. and by that i mean five types of chocolate. and today we succeeded. our five today: white chocolate kinder bueno bars. chocolate cookies after lunch/chocolate granola bar. nutella. dark chocolate (straight up, liquid, and on strawberries). milk chocolate (straight up, liquid, and on strawberries). obviously, its been a good day.