Monday, July 30, 2007

Au Marche de Puces

1. I hate flea markets
2. I hate antiques.

Having said this, yesterday we went to the antique flea market at St Ouen, which is right next to the famous one at the Porte de Clignancourt. It was great.
About flea markets: you've seen one, you've seen them all. The one in Clignancourt is now basically overrun by mountains of cheap jeans and imitation designer garbage, the same as everywhere else in the planet.
However, right next to it are the antique markets of St. Ouen, and this being Europe and France, it turns out they are far more agreeable and every bit as historic, if not as artistic, as the Musee D'Orsay.
It is interesting that the 2 markets coexist side by side. On one side you have the great unwashed. It's worth making the trip just so you can feel like you are in any other nondescript underdeveloped city right in Paris. It could have been Mexico City or Marrakesh (without the charm). On the other side, you enter the antique markets and all you see are rich white people and tourists strolling about with not a care in the world.
The antiques at St Ouen are truly spectacular. There is incredible furniture, from seemingly every historic era, and most of it in impeccable condition. There are fabulous lamps and vases and rare books and clocks and all the crap the dead leave behind when they shuffle off their mortal coils.
I've always had an allergic reaction to these kinds of shops, a) because of the dust and b) because I feel that the antique dealers are like vultures and that we are all scavenging around for somebody else's belongings. By now you must think somebody should have me committed, but that's how I see it. Bea, on the other hand, thinks that the dealers actually are more like preservationists, who ensure the stuff survives. It's a good point.
Be warned though that the prices at St. Ouen are absolutely crazy expensive. I don't know if the French have the custom of haggling, but if they don't make sure you bring your millions. The prices are absurd as to be laughable. I didn't want to buy anything because in general, I loathe things.
Let me correct myself: I did want to buy lots of unbelievable art deco and empire furniture and lamps as I fantasized I was filthy rich and could afford to furnish one of my many homes around the world. It was fun.
I will tell you about one incredibly fun restaurant we went to in one of the markets. A true joint that seemed like old fashioned Paris. A hoot. I don't have the info right now because I'm writing this at the Plage and I didn't bring the card with me.
Also, I want to show you the pics.

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