Nothing better to get you in the mood for some treasure hunting than a 25 minute taxi ride provided by a groovy elderly French women, hurtling us nonplussed by pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, street barricades and the like, while humming schizophrenic versions of Serge Gainsbourg, interspersed with fragmented English staccato-like sentences thrown in our direction, all the while staring suspiciously back through the rear view mirror. “La, la, la… merde… la, la. Sacre ----, la, la, belle day oui? (horn blaring), la, la.” At first very charming, by the end of the ride, just kind of freaky. After dismissing us about two blocks from the actually market “you get out now, oui?,” she kept an extra 5 euro tip “change okay, oui?,” and roared off down the road “…la, la, la”, horn blaring, local scattering, barely escaping her path.
One thing you need to know, the actual good part of the market is surrounded by the usual chaotic, mostly garbage, kitschy trinkets that you find all over the world. Don’t get me wrong; if you want a ten-dollar Eifel Tower sweatshirt that says I love Paris and a pair of two-
dollar matching socks (all made in Paris, China), Marché Malik is for you.
Passing through this madness brings you to the authentic Marché aux Puce. This area is actually comprised of several distinctive markets, each with its own personality and style. Our favorite markets are Marché Vernaison (jewelry, fabric, lamps, furnishings), and Marché Paul Bert (furniture, taxidermy, architectural accents). The same vendors have occupied some of the market stalls for decades, even generations. The scale and scope of the entire Marche aux Puce is initially overwhelming, but actually quite manageable in one to two days. I could tell you my favorite shops, but then I would have to kill you – just kidding. There are too many great places to list, but be sure, there is something for everyone, and even my husband’s heart starts to palpitate when we get near Marché Paul Bert.
Bring comfortable shoes; this market is huge. For you fellow retailers, imagine the entire Americasmart all on one level.
There are several good places to eat on Rue des Rosier. Skip Chez Louisette at the end of the Vernaison market (unless you are dying to eat to endless Edith Piaf renditions), and try Café Voltaire (92, rue des Rosiers) or Napoli Sarl Gemma (136, rue des Rosiers).
Some of the more exclusive vendors will take credit cards, but bring cash for the best deals.
Most vendors will assist you with shipping to the USA.
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Up as early as we can muster, today marks the start of our “bric-a-brac” adventures. This market (Ave Georges-Lafenestre and Ave Marc-Sagnier) is best early Saturday morning. A slowly curving walk is punctuated on both sides by numerous aged and dilapidated vendors with wares sprawling from equally aged and dilapidated trucks. The vendors carry a wide range of items from books, to jewelry to lighting and furnishings. This is one of our favorite markets to find “smalls”, although sometimes my husband and I exit the market looking like a couple of vagrant pack-mules overloaded with various frames, chandeliers, and furniture.
Come early, it starts at about 7am and most of the dealers have picked through the good stuff by the late morning. Things usually wrap up around 2pm.
Bring cash, there are a couple of cash machines around, but these usually run out of money when you really need it.
Try to arrange for return transportation prior to arrival, it’s usually difficult to find a cab in this area on the weekends, and its painful to take the subway if you have a lot of “treasures” in tow.
If you are hungry, the little kiosk at the end of the first row makes some mean frites and as usual for Europe, excellent espresso.
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I can’t believe we have only been here one night. Probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve taken at least two naps each day – I love vacation. Last night was highlighted by a sunset walk along rue de Buci. The streets were packed with people, locals, and tourists, all taking in a perfect summer evening. The air was filled with the chatter of conversation from the surrounding outdoor tables (both earnest and excited, never meaningless), sumptuous smells from the overflowing cafes (sugar, spice and everything nice) mixing with the lingering cigarette and cigar smoke; a stylized movie set? No, just another typical night in Paris. After perusing the scene, we picked Del Papa (38, rue de Buci). Still humming at 11pm, we squeezed into our table, surveyed the neighbor’s entrees and ordered the perfect oven baked pizza. Piping hot, razor thin, this chef would have made an Umbrian proud. Completely stuffed, we wandered Boulevard St-Germain, just barely able to complete our crème glacee (purchased from one of the multiple vendors) before it melted in our hands.
Today we rediscovered St-Germain-des-Prés. The 6th arrondissement is fantastic, exclusive, and expensive. It also houses some of our favorite stores. You can have all the usual international houses and style anywhere, here some of our local favorites include:
Deyrolle (46, rue du Bac), skip the first floor and go directly to the second for an exquisite collection of taxidermy (large game, song birds, insects, fish and reptiles). We purchased a book documenting the aftermath of the fire a couple of years ago. Fabulous photos, fabulous!
Flamont (8, Place de Furstenburg), the European version of Restoration Hardware. I know, kind of mainstream, but occasionally this place has some cool set pieces.
Librairie Alain Brieux (48, rue Jacob), store is a cabinet of curiosity. From ancient medical devices, books, journals to a one of a kind early nineteenth century paper mache anatomical model.
Jacques Hervouet (40 rue de l’Université), cool objets d’art, with a distinctive design whimsy.
Lunch today at Laudurée (21, rue Bonaparte with 3 additional Paris locations), a haven for respite after shopping and walking, and don’t skimp on the desert.
Afternoon café crème at Café de Flore (172 Blvd St-Germain), redefine your inner existentialism and recharge your battery.
All right, it’s off to dinner, tomorrow it’s the start of the shopping weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday are the flea market shopper go-days). Get some rest tonight, tomorrow we shop.
at 6:29 PM
After spending our last several Paris trips sampling the grand hotels: the Ritz, the Plaza Athéneé, the Meurice, Bristol, Crillion, and of course, our favorite, the George V, we have decided to partake in a far more Parisian affair: the Esprit St. Germain. Tucked along the Rue St. Sulpice, this quaint hotel still exudes luxury, but gives one the feel of actually owning a grand pied-a-tier in the heart of St. Germain des Prés. The 6th Arrondissement imbues a sense of Paris perhaps better than any other (much more about this later).
I could blog about this city forever. If you are planning to follow along with us the next few weeks, please, dear reader, have patience. I will do my best to give you at least a smidgen of enlightenment each day, but, alas, I too am awestruck and overcome by my muse – Paris. Sitting here on my own personal balcony, watching the sun set over the Eglise St. Sulpice, the final rays off the golden star topping the aging dome, a gentle warm (but without the Savannah infused deathlike humidity) breeze in my hair, I could almost weep with happiness (or maybe it’s just the combination of the residual pre-trip ativan, peri-trip ambien, and “rough-air “ –politically correct but still freaking scary turbulence- additional ativan, plus who’s counting glasses of champagne – hey it’s Paris after all, and, god-love-them, it’s complimentary at this hotel – now I really am crying tears of joy).
Any way, before your can say, run-on sentence, I will leave you with one airplane travel trip from my husband. Never wear designer jeans, no matter how loose and comfy they may seem, if they have large buttons on the rear pockets. After eight hours on a lay flat seat, I think my husbands butt is permanently dimpled. Well, it’s off to Carrefour de l’Odeon or Rue de Buci for dinner, more tomorrow.
at 6:28 PM
Alright Francophiles, its off to Paris. My husband and I are leaving today for two weeks in the City of Light. After our last few adventures to the wild and exotic, this time we opted for the traditional: Paris, and only Paris for two glorious weeks. Our favorite city with our favorite haunts; two weeks to explore the new and wondrous (the 20th arrondissement is currently “it”). We will fill you in on the latest and greatest so stay tuned for “notre aventure excellent amusante”.
at 9:41 AM
Superlative, Creative, Academic, Dynamic; Scholastic, Colorful, Animated, Distinctive. Any way you describe it, SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design, embodies the new style and design aesthetic. Leading its much elder peers in almost every field of study, SCAD is rewriting the arts world’s aging manuals breathing new life and bringing new depth to fields from architecture to fibers, to painting and interior design.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, SCAD has collected multiple top awards including: the nation’s No. 1 interior design graduate program. With over 9000 students from all 50 states and 90 countries, SCAD’s impact on Savannah cannot be understated. With a sublime campus in Lacoste, France, SCAD holds a special place in our traveler’s heart. From a sprawling new campus in Atlanta, to the upcoming new Hong Kong location (the first US school to establish such a feat), SCAD’s presence in the art and design world is now sealed.
So SCAD, happy 30th anniversary! We have enjoyed watching you grow and prosper, your students and faculty brighten and enliven our otherwise sleepy southern city, and your remarkable success fuels our own imagination and determination to succeed.
Pictured above, left to right, members of “our” SCAD family:
Monica (graphic design), Vicky (interior design), Kelsey (illustration), Emily (fashion), Reba (fashion), Sofya (painting).
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