Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paris: Day Six (Saturday)

This was another wonderful day, full of sunshine and delightful sights.  While it has been tough (ie impossible) for us to get up and out early, it's a vacation after all, so it was pretty much the same even though we've been here for nearly a week.

Our first stop for the day was the Marche aux Puces (flea market) at the Porte de Clingancourt.  This massive market was famous even back in the 70's, when I was here at ACP, and even though it has a (justifiable) reputation for being a bit touristy, I put in on our list because it's one of those things that most tourists miss in favor of the big sights, like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.  Valery and I visited it when we came on our honeymoon in '85, but of course Maddie hadn't seen it and we wanted to share it with her.

Getting off the Metro, we found ourselves in a completely different Paris than we'd seen up till now.  Most faces in Paris are white, but here they were mostly black.  On the way to the Marche, we had to wade through thick crowds of folks looking for cheap clothing and trinkets, and the number of men selling things (like shirts, watches, perfume and other high-end knockoffs) was just a bit intimidating.  We ran the gauntlet without too much trouble before wandering through an open-air market selling pretty much the same things.  At one vendor, however, I found a nice hat--black with red polka-dots) and promptly added it to my collection.

The Marche itself was interesting, if a bit overwhelming.  We bought a few trinkets for friends and family and after an hour or so, we were tired and hungry and found a seat in a cafe for our first Italian lunch in Paris.  Maddie had a calzone, while Valery and I shared an anchovy and olive pizza.  So simple and so good!

Next, we decided to go to Montmarte.  Now many tourists do this, of course, but I had actually lived in this area when I lived here in '80-81, so we took the Metro to Chateau Rouge and walked up the hill to the rue Muller, where I lived in a six-floor walkup with one window and a 'vas-is-das', which is one of those windows in the roof that opens up to let in light and air for those poor folks living in former 'chambres de bonnes' at the very tops of buildings.  Although we didn't go in, I was able to point it out for Maddie.

Then, we turned to head up the hill, toward Sacre Couer and Montmartre.  It was a warm day (if you live in Texas, hot doesn't describe it till you reach 100 degrees), so by the time we got to the lookout below the church, we were tired and thirsty.  After a couple of photo-ops, we turned to walk up to the square at Montmarte, fortunately finding one of those classic Parisian water fountains with the four naked ladies, and refreshed ourselves before making the final push.

The square at Montmarte is one of the most visited spots in Paris, and definitely one of the most touristy.  This is the square where the artists supposedly hung out in the early 20C (the famous cafe, Le Lapin Agile is up here), but now it is a hangout for artists hoping to cash in on some of those loverly tourist dollars.  The art is poor at best, and in some cases (the day-glo orange skies with yellow Eiffel Towers) downright hideous.  I had entertained a thought of having a quick caricature done here because I could never have afforded it when I lived here, but quickly dismissed that notion when we saw the crowds--six and even eight people deep.

One of the toughest parts of being a tourist is dealing with all the other tourists, and this was the absolute worst we'd seen.  Not the worst we would see, alas, but enough to send us packing after a three-quarter tour of the square.  We headed down, tired, hungry and thirsty yet again.  We made our way through the fabric district at the foot of the hill, and in a few short blocks found ourselves at the top of the rue Moufftarde.

This is one of the better-known market/restaurant streets in Paris, and it still retains some of the real Parisian charm that made it famous.  Francesca lived not far from the foot of this street, and she took me here more than once to shop and eat in one of the small restaurants near the end.  Valery and I stayed in her apartment in '85, so we also came here a few times.

We found a cafe and by the time we ordered, we had determined that we'd sat in this very cafe.  Valery had her usual glass of vin blanc and I had a beer.  Maddie ordered a Viennese hot chocolate and declared it to be the best she ever had.

Next, we found the Metro and made our way home, where Valery cooked up a lovely light supper.  After a brief respite, we headed out once again, this time for a nighttime stroll up and down the Champs Elysees.  By midnight, we were beat and called it a day, thankful for all and ready for bed,

1 comment:

Joseph J. Neuschatz M.D. said...

Le Marche aux Puces used to be "La Vieille France." Its furniture for sale area still is.

The rest? Let's call it THE CASBAH OF PARIS.