On Saturday we went to the Marché aux puces de Saint Ouen. These markets are huge. They start at the périphérique and spread out north along streets, in the back alleys and buildings. It’s quite the sprawl and a real mix of wares.
I had Elena in the back pack and Luuk carried Louis much of the way. We browsed all sorts of antiques – furniture, art, jewelry, toys, clothes, and lots of junk! Made me wish I had a giant house, or a museum, or a workshop and art gallery with loads of space.
Lots of stalls were selling pieces of old watches and clocks, and all sorts of stuff I couldn’t identify.
Luuk had been along before, with my brother back in July, and pointed us down lots of easy-to-miss nooks and alleys. So we saw plenty of intriguing sights but we resisted buying this particular car. One of the vendors did give Louis a toy car, a tiny yellow fiat, and I browsed the other cars, fully intending to buy the well-loved pick-up (reminiscent of tow-mater in a favourite film of ours…) but the seller insisted I take that for free as well.
We walked a lot and I paid heed to the ‘no photographs’ signs. Some of them even had ‘no drawing’ signs! I guess they were serious. But the entire left hand side of that alley behind Luuk was one long fashion boutique – high end and crazy cool.
There were certainly some strange things for sale and I was surprised to see the prices so high – though I guess the two are connected: weird to me means unique to someone else, and hard to get a hold of, which probably comes back to that economic theory about supply and demand.
But as I never took economics I’ll leave it at that.
In the end we got the two toy cars, a carved wooden hippo (talked the seller down from 25€ to 5€ – it’s amazing the price you can get when you don’t actually want something), a couple of books and comics in French (tin tin and asterix), and a poster (an old perfume ad from a magazine, but it looks like a girl writing – right up my alley).
We managed/juggled lunch at a café with the kids – bit cramped and the waiter kept running from the bar to the kitchen (very tempting to stick a leg out… but we resisted) but Louis ate his chips and Elena ate her baby food. Luuk and I feasted! I had enough roasted veal for a whole family, and courgette gratin on the side. Salad too! Luuk went for the entrecôte frite – he says he has to get a steak when he can (I don’t do beef often for dinner at home – not that he’s complaining… of course.)
No high chairs in Paris cafés generally, but Louis sits on a chair like a big kid and Elena was propped up in the backpack when we weren’t holding her. Louis played with his cars and only broke one glass.
It was a bit of a relief to get home, having driven all the way around the périphérique (there are always alarming moments), found parking, and survived the markets un-pickpocketed and without a single tantrum. Success!
The kids were glad of some space to run around at leisure and a decent nap. Elena’s favourite playtime activity at the moment is a clapping game with her buddy in the mirror… so cute. And I had to print print print, and then dash to writer’s group.
Other weekend highlights: skyping both our parents, excellent french toast breakie on saturday (I should say ‘pain perdu’). I got some editing done today while Luuk took Louis out on the bike and joined thousands of others at Parc de Sceaux. Gorgeous weather for it too. Our apartment gets all honey-coloured and warm in the sun. Spring is coming! Hurrah!