One of the things I was most excited about doing on this trip was seeing the flea markets (les marches aux puces–literally “flea market”) at Clignancourt and Vanves. People tend to have a strong preference for one over the other, and it’s difficult to sort through all the information as to which is better. The short version is that Clignancourt has a lot of stuff. A lot of crap, a lot of pristine (and expensive) antiques, and a lot of stuff in between, all organized into multiple marches (markets). Vanves has much less of everything–much less junk, much fewer nice antiques–and has more of the feel of an American flea market. And it only takes about an hour or so to meander through.
Clignancourt feels like a little city, once you push your way past the booths of jeans, incense, knock-off pocketbooks, etc. (and you do have to push), you get to these organized markets of antiques dealers. Everyone has at least one dining room table in their stall, and around one p.m., I discovered why: they lay out a tablecloth, put out a pretty impressive spread of food, open a few bottles of red wine, gather up their shopkeeper friends, and eat lunch together. It’s really cool.
By the way, my advice is to head straight for rue de Rosiers a Saint-Ouen when you’re going. That’s where La Chope des Puces is, and it’s also the far end of the nice stuff (Marche Paul Bert has the nicest things).
I searched for pots for pots de creme, but didn’t turn up anything. A monsieur, who was very helpful and had a stall of fancy kitchenware, told me they’re very hard to find. I did see a stuffed baby kangaroo and was going to ask the shopkeeper to take my photo with it, but he was eating lunch with his friends and talking to some other Americans. Come to think of it, there was a lot of taxidermy at Clignancourt.
After Clignancourt, I headed for La Chope des Puces, the bar with Gypsy jazz. It’s a tiny place. You enter and the art deco-y counter points right at you. You can take one of the eight seats (at four tables) in the front, stand by the bar, or go and sit at one of the six or so tables in the restaurant part in the back. The musicians–two guitarists–were mostly talking and telling jokes with some friends standing at the bar, but the music I did hear was great. Plus, it was fun to stare at the photos of Django and compare everyone’s version of the de rigeur Django moustache (I liked the bartender’s best).
I wandered around Montmartre in the rain Sat. afternoon. Sharlene was right, it’s “very Amelie.”