12 April 2010

Les Puces

One of my favourite memories from Paris was our last day there on Sunday morning. 
Meg and I went high up to north north Paris  ( metro stop was 'porte de clignancourt') to the famous and enormously labyrinthine Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, the largest flea market in the world...the world!!  It sure felt like it, and my only regret is that I didn't take any photos because we were so busy swooning about the place and inspecting all the fascinating objects. 

It was so lovely wandering around the tiny alleys crammed full of individual shops bursting with anything your heart desires (anything vintage, that is) from mint condition 50's and 60's furniture, fashion, old glassware and architectural fittings, knick-knacks, magazines, old posters and books, buttons, bags and haberdashery....it was bliss.  I tried on a pair of original black cat-eye reading glasses c. 1940s-1950s that were so intense, I loved them but didn't think I had the panache to pull off wearing them everyday. They were so stylish, and so cheap! barely 10 euros. Sigh.  I am such a fool sometimes.

The only thought in my mind as we wandered around was 'this would be the best place when you are hungover'...it was such a good atmosphere, peaceful and so full of beautiful things, it was the equivalent of eating home-made chicken soup, nourishment for the soul and a weary body.  

We sat in a small cafe for a little rest before taking on more of the markets, and the lady behind the counter (bless her) didn't bat an eyelid when I ordered two coffees in my made-up French using my most quietly confident voice. The French language scares the hell out of me, and the Parisians surprised me by actually being really lovely despite the fact I literally knew 3 words! But smiling, apologising and making fun of yourself (and not dressing like a tourist) sure do go a long way towards not being treated with contempt by the stylish and street-wise Parisians it seems! To be fair, I was trying my absolute darndest to be as charming as possible and I was shocked that it worked, every time.

Anyways, there are several markets that make up Les Puces, my favourite one was the Marché Dauphine...a newer structure spread across two levels and full of specialised shops. It seemed that the top floor was crammed full of old books, old postcards (with messages lovingly or perhaps dutifully scrawled in French) black and white family photographs, prints, vintage magazines as well as some vintage clothing shops. 
(I wish I had bought this dress that was going for 30 euros. It was white polyester and had cartoon-isms all over it, very pop-art and very childish at the same time...how great would it be to wear a dress that had 'bing! baff! pow! kazaaaam!' all over it?!  Ah...so many marché regrets.)

One store on the 2nd floor was run by the most glamorous young woman who looked like something straight out of the 1940s. Everyone in the shop was bashfully gawking at her, she really was a beauty. I would go back there in a heartbeat, this time, camera in hand and notepad ready to scribble down the names of the little shops.

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