So people ask us if we were to go to Paris again, what would we do differently. I say that I'd want to go during a different season (preferably spring or fall -- fewer tourists, rain), and Owen always tells people to go for 6 days instead of 10. That's because around day 7, you start to kind of have a breakdown about how insanely expensive everything is and how you've spent all your money and how you just want to be home where you could buy dinner for under $5 and be perfectly fine and also sleep in your own bed. Or at least that was me. But maybe I had some traveler's fatigue since I hadn't been home in two months almost, so you probably would be less insane than me. But in any case, if you are planning to just stick around Paris, probably 6 days would be a great first-time trip, if you ask us.
Okay, so this day was Saturday, and I wanted to check out the world's largest flea market, Les Marches des Puces in French if you will. So we hopped on the metro and went to the furthest station out on the 14 line (quite far north), and followed these instructions from the blog Oh Happy Day, which got us there quite nicely with no problems.
When you think about flea markets, what do you think about? For me, I envisioned finding hidden treasures for unbelievable prices, maybe something cool for our house that was also a pretty good deal, because you really have to come quite far out of your way to get here.
So yeah, just like everything in Paris, IT WAS ALL EXPENSIVE!
No good deals to be found. Unless maybe you've been in Paris long enough that you've forgotten what a good deal actually is, and the insane price tags seem justifiable to you because you've spent more than $100 on a t-shirt before.
They sure had a lot of stuff, and it was very large. But it seemed like it would most be great if you were REALLY into collecting things. There were lots of things to collect - TONS of china/dishes, keys, tiny perfume bottles, old books, jewelry, cruddy jewelry, chairs, art, lamps, and it was all so much money. I would look at something from a shop, and I knew if a small item cost over 80 euros...yeah, we were out of luck. I guess you're also paying for the chance to say, "Oh, I just got it over at some flea market while I was in Paris" la de da. But to us, it seemed a little absurd and a lot of the stuff was really nothing that nobody ever really NEEDS, you know?
10 euros for one key? And that was for the smallest, plainest ones! Yikes!
But now we've been, and now we know. I would plan on spending time here unless you're REALLY into home decor or collecting random stuff or have a load of extra money you don't mind spending. Oh and extra space to carry it home, because anything I thought was actually cool and maybe worth the tag was really large (i.e. a chandelier, sweet leather chair, etc.) and there's no way I could have brought it home with me. Also, I knew it wasn't a great place to find a bunch of good deals because there were SO many tourists there! Anytime there are more people speaking English than French, you know you've got to be careful.
Since we went ALL the way out there to the outskirts of Paris and had spent a lot of time wandering around, I felt like we couldn't leave without getting something, so I bought this little dish for 5 euros that I now keep at my bedside as a little ring-holder dish. It's frivolous, but everything was there, and I really wanted to get something with that pretty blue and white pattern that was everywhere. In reality, I would have wanted to get a big tray or something, but it probably would have cost at least 230 euros, so I went with a tiny dish.
For the record, leaving the flea market and getting back onto the Clingnancourt metro station was where Owen was pickpocketed (with no loss, luckily). So watch your back. Afterwards, we ate lunch in a garden again (always a good choice), and found some cool art around the garden. I'm pretty sure we were at Luxembourg this time, but it might have been Tuileries, not sure.
Oh, and they also had a random free art exhibit at the garden, that's always cool.
After some free art, we went to La Grande Épicerie de Paris, which is basically any food lovers dream come true. It's a specialty food market, with all the best and brightest in meat, cheese, bread, dairy, spices, imports, jams, butter, chocolate, you name it. I kinda went a little crazy in there, and was able to find my fleur de sel de Guerande, so I was pretty happy.
For the record, Owen will kill me for posting this picture as well. But I had to have something to show for the food market, because I thought it was so fun! I <3 special foods.
Also, we passed by this restaurant a bunch (it was on Blvd St. Germaine, so a pretty popular area), and it was always filled with tourists, and we thought the name of the restaurant was funny (it means the two baboons), and we wondered if the name was making fun of all the tourists they serve there...
Since we were on Blvd St. Germain anyway, I wanted to go to Diptyque, a super famous candle store that every glamorous women shops at, and then uses the empty candle jar to store her makeup brushes in. It's really a thing, I promise. Anyway, we asked a very nice French lady at a bookshop for some instructions to the candle store, since my TripAdvisor app failed us sadly, and she even bothered to look up the address online for us! Seriously, I think Parisians are super nice. So, after much walking and wandering, we finally found the store, which was WAY smaller than anything online would suggest. They had a cool method of smelling the candles, which involved knocking out the candle on this little pillow, and smelling the jar. But there was only one problem. We couldn't find a candle we liked!!! Can you believe it?! They are supposedly these amazing candles, and I have to admit they seemed very nice quality, but we thought they all smelled terrible!!
Maybe our noses just aren't refined enough for the exquisite French palette, but there was maybe only one we even sorta liked, and even still, I like the candles at Anthropologie a MILLION times better, and they are bigger and cheaper! I'm still sad I won't have one of the pretty jars for my makeup brushes, but really. I just couldn't do it with the stinky candles!
It had kinda been a rough day all around (not to mention my breakdown after the flea market), but luckily dinner was AMAZING. We traveled out to the Montparnasse neighborhood to go to "the best crepe shop in Paris" (the woman seating us assured us that it was the best in the world), and it was actually pretty funny, because we seriously probably passed at least NINE other creperies along the very same street this one was on. Very odd.
Well, this one really nailed it. It definitely lived up to the reputation. I'm not sure how they do it, but these crepes were unbelievably crispy on the outside, and I LOVE the buckwheat flour. They were so so so good. And not insanely expensive! When on a budget, shop for crepes in Paris. Mine had spinach and goat cheese, and Owen daringly went for a sausage and egg -- luckily, the sausage was perfectly normal and not disgusting. I wouldn't have dared!!
You know a place is going to be good when they have a GIGANTIC container of crème fraîche at easy reach for the chef. Crème fraîche is where it's AT people!
Obviously we got a dessert crepe, and WOW. How do they do it, I have no idea. Ours was a regular crepe with homemade vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce. The only downside was that we didn't get more than one, and that we didn't have room in our stomachs. OH MY GOSH THIS WAS SO GOOD!
We actually loved this place so much that we went there again for dinner on our last night, and this time we were smarter and ordered two desserts -- the salted caramel + ice cream + slivered almonds (the almonds added an amazing crunch that really took it to the next level), and then housemade chocolate with whipped cream. Um yeah. #canIeatthiseveryday?