Impressions by Carrie.
I didn't want to discover what visiting Paris was like; I wanted to discover
what living in Paris was like. I wanted to get out in the streets,
chat with the locals, haggle. I found out about the following marchés
(markets) from l'Officiel des Spectacles, a weekly guide to Paris
goings-on (look under "autres curiosités" for marchés,
promenades, and other places to explore).
Marché Parisien de la Création
Ca, c'est un marché en plein air à Montparnasse. Cent
artistes sont là tous les dimanches pour présenter et vendre
directement leurs uvres. Il y a des peintures et les sculptures
très vives et variées.
Je ne suis arrivée que quinze minutes avant la fermeture du marché,
mais j'ai reussi à voir la plupart de ce qu'il y avait. Il faisait
nuit, mais il y avait les lampes fortes qui donnaient beaucoup de lumière
sur les tableaux. Je voulais prendre quelques photos, mais j'ai rapidement
appris que les artistes n'aiment pas les photographes trop près de
leurs uvres. J'ai decidé de respecter leurs vux
et de ne pas montrer les photos ici!
Marché du livre ancien et d'occasion
Apparently, people who like old books also like pipes. This is what I've
learned from my trip to the Marché du livre ancien et d'occasion.
It's an outdoor market with books as far as my camera could see, complete
with cigar-toting vendors puffing away every few steps. I liked it so much
I stayed there for three hours, shivering and huddling as the cold seeped
into my bones. Once I got cold through and through, I fought with myself
whether to stay or to leave. There were just so many books... I don't
know if I couldn't seen them all if I'd had the whole day. (The marché
is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., for those interested in taking on the challenge!)
The tents were so large that I felt like I was in a giant disorderly library
-- I think only the cold reminded me I was outside. And the smell -- the
damp air and the thousands, millions of books soaked with mustiness and cigarette
smoke from today and so many such samedis and mercredis over the centuries.
The way the pipes smelled, they could have been centuries old, too -- the
exhalations of the corpses of the great writers whose works were scattered
about here. I managed to duck away, usually, down the next row past tables
of first edition comic books and a sedate-looking dog on a leash. The books
here range from last year's one-dollar pocket novel to those old faded comic
books to really old books whose age you can't guess, bound in tough
brown leather or painted with gold. They just don't make books like
that anymore, books where the cover doesn't even show the name of the book,
just a dusty, delicate spiral design that looks like it was made by hand,
dipping paper in swirls of colored oil, inspired by peacock feathers. The
spines are where the names are, text going horizontally along the short axis,
riddled with hyphens.
My company was mostly old men with gray hair and gruff expressions and those
bloody pipes. There were a few walking around and nodding at me, some absorbed
in a newspaper, and one sleeping in his chair like it was his own porch.
Nobody noticed when I finally slipped out, past the stacks and a man selling
flowers near the gate exit.
Marché aux puces
Marché aux puces means (quite literally) flea market. There are several
of them in Paris, and I had chosen the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt,
all the way at the north end of the city.
This is another marché I didn't reach until after nightfall. I came
up from the underground metro station clutching my map, but as I crossed
the street the way became evident -- there was a steady stream of people
going away from and towards a huge mass of tent-like structures. The darkness
made it a bit ominous, although that could have also been the large size
and the bustling, slightly raucous crowd. I found mostly clothing for sale
there, though there were such more extravagant items as picture frames and
large exotic paper-covered lamps that I wouldn't've been able to take home
with me if I'd wanted to. I'd been expecting a smaller, quainter, odder
selection of goods, though I shouldn't've been surprised by the insistent
vendors hawking their wares. In the end I came away without buying
anything, and I have to admit that I was a little relieved to escape the
tightly-packed droves to the relative peacefulness of the metro train. Next
time I'll visit in the daylight...
Other marchés I never got to visit (la prochaine fois!):
Marché aux oiseaux, Cité. Marché aux fleurs,
Cité. Marché aux Vieux Papiers de Saint-Mandé
(cartes postales, timbres, livres, documents, etc.), St-Mandé-Tourelle.