CHEAP FUN IN PARIS No.1 – Marche aux Puces

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Nearly everyone in the Western World has too much stuff and the Parisians apparently have more stuff that the rest of us.

It’s all fine and dandy if you’re Louis the Sun King and have hundreds of rooms in the Palais de Versailles to fill, but when the time comes to downsize, say when the kids leave home or there’s a French Revolution, what happens to the things you’ve accumulated in a lifetime of shopping?  Sure, the Musee du Louvre may take some of it off your hands, but there will still be a lot of clutter up in the attic.

So the surplus gold clocks, teddy bears, Louis XIV chairs and old magazines end up in the Marche aux Puces, the biggest flea market in town, if not the world. It stocks a very high class of flea.

Mevrouw T and I have too much stuff as well, so our credit cards could stay in the safety of our wallets while we browsed.

To get to Marche aux Puces we took the Metro to the end of line 4, Porte de Clignancourt, then followed the signs that directed us north, under the railway line. The initial impression was not promising. Stalls sold cheap sports shoes, luggage, baseball caps and sunglasses, while earnest young men tugged sleeves, whispering about the excellent value of the watches and leather belts they thrust towards us.

When we pressed forward and turned right, things improved considerably. In the covered markets we were suddenly in a treasure trove of French paraphernalia.

Stuff

Gold

Everything

Monks

The market operates Saturday to Monday. I don’t know how busy it gets at weekends, but Monday was a quiet day – a great relief, because there are few places in Paris which are quiet these days.

Down time

Antique dealer

Book dealer

Bike

Restorer cropBeads and buttons

Lunch

We spent a few hours there, and would happily have stayed longer.

For the price of a metro and bus ticket (EUR1.27 each way) we’d filled an excellent day.

4 Comments

Filed under Budget travel, France

4 responses to “CHEAP FUN IN PARIS No.1 – Marche aux Puces

  1. I always enjoy your street photography, Richard; I just wonder – do you ever ask for permission before you take photos of people and their stands? They don’t look like posed photos, so I don’t think you do, but I’m still curious. What is the protocol when wandering around European streets with a camera?

  2. Interesting question, Reggie.

    I must confess I’m a bit shy about asking permission, though I occasionally do that if the person will be identified in the shot. Normally I prefer to catch the scene unposed anyway, the way I’ve really seen it.

    This usually means I shoot people at a bit of a distance and keep them slightly anonymous. I understand that officially when people are really identifiable you are supposed to get them to sign a written disclaimer before you sell the photo.

    I do sometimes sell photos to accompany the articles I publish. If I’m on an organised group tour, I always ask my fellow travellers for permission to use their images or names in my pieces. I’ve never had a refusal.

    I’d be interested to know how the serious professional photographers approach this. I saw a powerful World Press Photo exhibition in Paris this week, and I bet those award-winning photographers didn’t get signed disclaimers from the mothers clutching starving children.

  3. Good post. If you like antiques and junk then the town of Horncastle in Lincolnshire is the place to go!

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