Another chilly, sunny morning, but today warmed up to become our nicest day yet.
After a rather leisurely start we headed out to the flea market at Porte de Clignancourt, technically “le marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen,” just outside the Paris city limits. There are several formal market areas, surrounded by really low-end clothing stalls. The first market we explored, Vernaison, was highly miscellaneous. We saw lots of shopkeepers chatting with one another in the sun but little in the way of sales. We wondered how the economics of these shops works; are they mostly hobbies or do they really generate income? The higher-end shops at the Dauphine market look like real businesses, however. This was my favorite:
While I found all the stuff fascinating I was more intrigued than stirred by acquisitive desire. Who made all this stuff? Who first acquired it? Under what circumstances did it pass into the hands of the vendor? Who, if anyone, will ever buy it, and why? There’s something profound about human nature in all of this, although exactly what eludes me for the moment.
After getting our fill of window-shopping we came back home to our delightful Montorgueil neighborhood. Jason spent a nervous half-hour researching the air travel situation created by the Icelandic volcanic eruption. All Paris airports are closed until Monday morning. Jason’s flight back to the U.S. is Monday afternoon, so all will be well if the closure isn’t extended further (as has already happened several times). If the closure continues, Jason will be stranded in Paris! To help ease this anxiety we shared a pistachio-cherry tart from world-famous Stohrer’s bakery on the roof-top terrace of our tiny apartment:
I then spent a pleasant hour sitting at a café people-watching and reading — with help from my pocket dictionary — Balzac’s wonderful Illusions Perdues. Doing some shopping on my way home I ran into a confusion that speakers of French (only) may appreciate. The checkout clerk asked me for “quatre vingt cinq.” She meant “quatre (euros), vingt-cinq (centimes)” (4.25€) but I heard “quatre-vingt cinq” (85), which made no sense for what I’d purchased. The problem was quickly resolved but it illustrated the fact that I still have a ways to go before being able to pass as a native.