Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Paris part deux...The Markets!

Part of my goal to live like a Parisian included shopping at the local markets.  There's something about a farmer's market that really gets to me, the open air, beautiful fresh produce, fresh cut flowers, and people strolling about.  My previous trips to Paris had been long weekends, jam packed with agendas to see the museums and tour the sights.  This time, I was determined to not be such a "tourist". 

As mentioned in my previous post, as soon as we arrived at our apartment, we dropped our bags and made our way to the closest market, Marche d'Enfant Rouge.  We had our beautiful lunch, sat outside, then wandered through the stalls selling produce, fish, flowers, cheese etc.  I spotted a crepe stand with a long line, I knew it must be something good.  Turns out it was a beautiful buckwheat galette, stuffed with prosciutto, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and grated parmesan cheese.  Having just had lunch that first day, I made it a goal to come back at some point throughout the week to try it!  It was AMAZING!  I had never been a savory crepe person, but this was right up my alley!
Peonies are my absolute favorite flower! 
Like a floral bouquet!
In addition to the food markets, another goal was to explore the antique fairs and markets throughout the city.  My mom and I have a slight addiction to "treasures" as we call them.  I'm not going to lie, I've scheduled a flight based around the Alameda flea market.....so I was beyond excited to check out the Parisian markets.  We woke up early our first day to hit up the largest and oldest market, Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.  I had been once before, but it had been a Monday and the majority of the stalls were closed.  It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for flea scavenger-ing! 
Map of the oldest market-Marche Vernaison

My dear friend and former roommate Emily happened to be in Paris at the same time.  We used to spend Saturday mornings roaming the antiques garage in NYC so it was fun to have her there as well!
My mom has a collection of clock faces-this shop specialized in all shapes and sizes!
We spent the day exploring the different markets within Saint-Ouen.  My favorites were Vernaison and Paul Bert.  In true french style, the various dealers came together with others in their respective areas and set out beautiful elaborate lunches, all using real serving dishes and utensils, not exactly the picnic we're used to in the States.  And of course, bottles and bottles of wine.  It was so nice to see people sitting down and enjoying each others company over a lovely meal, something I aspire to as many of my meals are at my desk at work, or at home in front of the TV. 

While Le Puces was amazing for strolling and imagining what I would ship home in a giant container to sell at my imaginary home-goods store or decorate a wealthy client's home with if I were an interior designer, it wasn't exactly the best for collecting small "treasures" that would fit in my suitcase to bring home.  Thankfully, we stumbled upon the most amazing market later in the week.  

Our intent for that day was to wake up, walk towards the Carnavalet museum and grab a leisurely breakfast along the way.  As we made our way down the street, we came upon people setting up for some type of market.  I figured it was a typical street market like in NY, with the fruit smoothie stand, kebabs, discounted sheets/towels, and other random things!  But no...as we start to get closer, we see that it's an antique market!  At the first stand I immediately spot a pleated Ungaro knee length skirt!  From then on we were in trouble, but the best kind!  5 hours later we still hadn't left our neighborhood and hadn't even made it to all of the stands!  It was amazing, more like Alameda/NY garage in that there were smaller collectibles at reasonable prices that we could take home.  I must say it was quite an experience having absolute no French language skills and attempting to barter with these dealers, I didn't a pretty darn good job!

Other finds included a vintage pleated dress, almost identical to this one (fashion sure is cyclical), decorative accents for my dresser, a burlap "poste" bag for my mom, a vintage tin with beautiful gold filigree, and perhaps the best purchase, a vintage black embossed hat box!  This makes more sense when I fill you in on my exciting purchase in Brussels.  We happened upon a vintage shop with gorgeous period pieces and a lovely, chapeau!  Now you might ask, how often does one have the opportunity to wear a formal hat (the royal wedding parties are over for now...) but I just figured that if I EVER had an occasion that called for a hat, I would be covered with this one!  Finding a box to carry it home in was the icing on the cake.  If only travel were so glamorous these days, it felt so fun to walk through the Paris airport with my hat box!
Breakfast was long forgotten once we started treasure-hunting so by the time mid-day rolled around we were starving.  Just my luck, we happened to be right by L'Estaminet (I was worried we wouldn't make it back there for a second meal throughout the week!)  The sun came out, we sat outside, I had the prosciutto tartine while my mom tried the grilled chicken with apples and brie!  We even had wine to celebrate our fabulous finds!
Cheers!
I seriously wish I could have shipped stuff home, there were so many great things, I kept thinking if only I could take this home!  The market happens twice a year on Rue Bretagne, this was the last weekend in May, the other weekend is either end of October or early November, no one was really sure, or they just didn't understand what I was asking!  I love bringing home souvenirs that every time I look at them (or wear them) I am reminded of our trip.  Sure beats a postcard (although I did pick up a few vintage black and white postcards of Paris!) 

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