lundi 9 novembre 2009

The village market

I think this weekend was the weekend for antiques and other bric a brac.. I don’t know what it was but there were at least three flea markets running this weekend. One is pretty major and it’s the bi-annual Bastille Antiquities Market (a separate post is coming up on this!), another was more of a neighborhood flea market in the 12th arrondissement and the third was held at the Village St. Paul.

I love the village St. Paul so it made sense that I check it out first. The village St. Paul is exactly that—a small self- contained little village in the heart of the Marais. It is just a few tiny pedestrian streets that wind in and around the Church of the St. Paul but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up in terms of charm and history. It is here that you can see remnants of the old fortifications that used to ring the old city. In those early early days of Paris, the city was a fraction of its size now and everything was enclosed in strong walls, designed to keep out ruffians and other criminals. Another site to note is the Hotel de Sens, which lies close to the Seine River. It used to be the residence of the Archbishop of the City of Sens (hence the name) but nowadays it is a public library that houses a few temporary exhibitions.

Here's a photo of the medieval wall..

The Hotel de Sens which won't look out of place among the different castles of the Loire Valley...

The Village's lovely lay out of small streets that enclose little courtyards made it the perfect place for antique dealers. Ten years ago, it was renowned for its weekend antique fairs. The dealers would set out their wares onto the courtyard of the Village and people would come from everywhere to browse and shop. Unfortunately such fairs created nightmare parking and traffic issues so the Mayor was obliged to prohibit such fairs. It was a real shame and in fact it was widely criticized. As a result of such prohibition, number of the antique dealers were obliged to move away. That said, there are still a few stalwarts who open during the weekend and its at this time that the village is at its liveliest. But I have to say that during the week, the calm courtyards of the village serve as a delightful place to have a simple lunch!

This weekend it was busier than usual thanks to the temporary weekend market. There was a good mix of stands selling handsome furniture and beautiful tableware as well as some selling beautiful French linens. There was even a bookseller selling antique leather bound books. The most interesting stands didn’t have a particular theme but featured a number of attractive and whimsical items. One was selling old- fashioned jewelry stands in the form of a miniature dress dummy while another had what she called a “repose-pied” or a little stool where one could rest one’s feet. Yet another had a set of beautifully mismatched glasses and pitchers. It was quite frustrating that the sellers more often than not refused to have their merchandise photographed! I did manage to take a few general looking pictures of the market as a whole to give you a flavor of how things were.

On non-market days, this is a particularly lovely spot to have lunch, just under the boughs of this old tree...

A view of another courtyard

One seller agreed to let me take a picture of here repose-pied

While another agreed to let me shoot her pretty glasses and pitchers..

After browsing the stands, I got the hankering for something sweet so I popped in Izrael, still within the confines of the Village but on its outer perimeter. This is a greet spice shop that stocks what seems like an enormous amount of spices from all over the world. You step in and its like Ali Baba's cavern of treasures except its spices that reigns here. They also make the best chocolate orangettes and mendiants that I've ever had. Each time I go, I cannot resist buying a bag of each. Often my bag of goodies don't even make it back home, as during the walk back, I don't stop at one piece!

2 commentaires:

kpocampo a dit…

meg, love this entry! great photos and even greater prose.

Pink Princess a dit…

thanks Karen! I'm obsessed with flea markets as you can see...:)