September 15th, 2018
Yes, Eric Kayser to start.
Today we’re off to the flea market Les Puces, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas). It covers seven hectares (17 acres) and is the largest antique market in the world. I have tell you, the bulk of it is pretty much like any flea market anywhere, lots of clothes, sunglasses, and tennis shoes. However, once we found our way to the antique section it became much more interesting. Alley after alley of little shops where you could find pretty much everything related to the classic French home. Tons of great furniture and salvaged parts for chandeliers, doors,……, and you name it. To be sure, there is a ton of crap there, but a lot of gem’s too. If you lived in Paris and you were looking for just the right thing for that spot in your house, you’re sure to find it there. One other thing, the place looks ripe for a big fire, so much stuff and so many alley’s, and good luck finding your way out. Best not to think about that.
Les Puces provided another encounter much the same as the other day on the bridge, we were approached by a guy who found an iPhone, thought it was ours, wanted us to have it, I imagine this would have played out the same as the woman with the ring. But wait, at the Metro station we watched a woman set up in a prime spot with her little boy and an obviously fake baby that she had swaddled so you couldn’t see it. Out goes the cup and the sign and she starts asking for euros to help the family. I love the entrepreneurial spirit.
Paris is alive with so much to do, see, and taste. But if you want to know about death in Paris, you have to go to Pere Lachaise Cemetery. The cemetery began accepting Parisians in 1804, the plots range from simple ground level slabs to towering monuments, all mixed together and very tightly packed. Pere Lachaise claims to be both Paris’ largest cemetery and park. There are so many names on some of the graves, and the years span such a long period of time, that the bodies can only be stacked on top of each other under the slabs. From what I’ve read no one really knows how many people are buried there, estimates range between 300,000 and 1,000,000. The residents include Moliere, Balzac, Oscar Wild, Chopin, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and obviously a hell of a lot more. Aside from it being a cemetery, it is a wonderful place to simply walk around, very park like, cobbled walkways and roads, and plenty of benches to enjoy a lunch, which we did.
After a rest we picked up some food from Maison Guyard (42 Rue de Vermeuil, 75007), fantastic prepared food, foie gras, charcuterie, lamb, and some greens. Then we headed to the Eiffel tower for a picnic in the grass. Crowded is an understatement. Immediately around the Eiffel tower there are tons of people just hanging out admiring the tower, and a ton of others selling Eiffel tower trinkets along with “beer beer wine and champagne”. “Beer Beer” is not a typo, for some reason without fail, every person trying to sell alcohol said beer twice. We walked further down the lawn to where is was a little less crowded and where we could comfortably see the entire tower. There we set out a sheet and began to enjoy or food and wine. I have a small very well traveled backgammon set, we played a few rounds, Karen kicked my ass as usual. Given the crowd, maybe (definitely) Saturday night wasn’t the best night to choose to do the picnic at the Eiffel Tower, but it was really nice just the same. People from all different cultures doing exactly what we were there to do, enjoy the evening while waiting for the tower to light up. Near by there were six or eight guys playing different types of guitars and bongo drums, not too loud and not too quiet, just adding a nice background sound. Timed with sunset, the tower started to gradually light itself. By the time the sun was completely down it was fully lit. At the top of each hour, for 5 minutes, the tower is awash in strobe lights. Very cool looking. We enjoyed our nice little dinner, drank our wine, and hung out there for quite a while. We asked a couple guys to take our picture with the tower in the background, we found out they were from Bogotá Columbia. One was studying to be a surgeon, finishing up his internship at Columbia Hospital in New York. Interesting guys, we talked with them for a while before we left. As you would guess, with that many people around, bathrooms are scarce and a bit overused. Karen was in dire straits as we started back to the apartment, she decided to pass on using a stinky porta-potty, only to later to regret it when the pressure became more urgent.
On the way back was when we confronted Karen’s biggest fear, getting separated and her not knowing how to get back. Later at night the Metro trains have fewer cars. The shorter train passed by the spot we were waiting, so we had to run to catch it. I made it on to the train just as the doors closed on Karen’s arm. I could imagine 2 things at that moment, the panic on her face, and that she was peeing herself (only one of those actually happened). Immediately another guy jumped up and helped me pry the doors open. In comes Karen with a look of shock on her face, but thankfully dry pants. Nothing like a bit of excitement to close out the night.
The been-there-done-that section of Les Puces.
Now its starting to get fun, the antique section.
Lets see, how do I find my way out of here?
Have I mentioned before that I love the Metro, classic station.
Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
Looks like Brooklyn, close neighbors.
Lets see….where did we put GrandPap?
With time everything crumbles, when it does it gets stacked in place.
Ceramic flower arrangements.
Someone is missed.
A resting spot, but not the final one. Can’t stay too long, I saw a guy with a shovel earlier.
Picnic at the Eiffel Tower.
The sun goes down and the lights come up.
Time to sparkle.