I kept asking my friends to go with me to the Paris flea markets.
It was a unanimous and very clear "Non."
There were even a few "I hate flea markets," said in English so I'd understand.
I consulted my Frommer's Paris 2010 guidebook that I bought for 2 Euro at the American Library book sale. Score. I found a flea market called Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, which made me giggle because puces seemed like it sounded like a sexy word for one of my girl parts. I like finding the French words that make my dirty English mind giggle. You may call this juvenile. I call it motivation.
According to the guide book, this is "The best flea market in Paris—dealers swear by it." The book also heeds a word of warning. "Asking prices tend to be high, as dealers prefer to sell to nontourists."
I'm not a tourist here in Paris right now but I sure look and sound like one. No matter. I threw my balls in my purse before I went and was prepared to strap them on an haggle like a Frenchie if I had to.
Turns out, there was no need. Why? Because there was nothing, absolutely nothing that would fit into my One Suitcase wardrobe. And the flea market was a Creepy Doll Parade (see below). Plus, I had concerns about actual fleas. Ick.
Old countries like Paris have a lot of bric-à-brac, which Wikipedia told me is a word of French origin. And now I know why. A lot of stuff can pile up when one has centuries of collecting in one place. Immigrants to the North America were the original One Suitcase people. And they, like me, had different priorities of what to schlep from place to place. I walked around taking photos on the sly. Because what will fit in my One Suitcase? Digital photos.
Despite not buying anything, it was great to walk around and learn about other cultures by what they sell at the flea market. In Canadian flea markets, you'll find plenty of Pyrex bowls, paintings of autumn scenes and Hudson's Bay Company blankets (which always made me itchy). In Paris, you'll find feathers, buttons and old wine bottles. All clues to the interests and priorities of a culture.
It seems the French are also into creepy dolls. I saw one little English girl who actually shriek and jump back when she came across a particularly horrifying doll. I'm sure that whoever created the Chuckie doll for that gawdawful horror flick found inspiration at a Paris flea market.
I wonder if this is why my friends didn't want to come to the flea market. It's starting to make sense to me now.
Some of the booths were quite lovely. And the happy chemicals in my brain start pumping whenever I find a pretty Farine, Sucre, Thé, Café set. As long as I keep a safe distance from the creepy dolls, I'm fine. But they do make for interesting photos...