Results tagged flea market from David Lebovitz

Paris Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

Paris Flea Markets

When I lived in a small apartment, I had to dial down buying everything. As folks in Paris say: “Something in, something out” – meaning that if you brought something in, you had to get rid of something to make room for it. I lived ”smaller,” with fewer things, which was great because I pared down my collecting, and kept only what was essential.

Paris Flea Markets

What a difference a few years, and a few more square meters, make. And now that I’ve got some more space in my apartment after moving a couple of years ago, I’m hitting the vide-greniers and brocantes again, scooping up odds and ends. (And looking for places to put everything, all over again. *sigh*) When I put photos on my Instagram stream as I wandered the markets recently, the invariable question comes up: “Where are you?” So in response to folks that want to know where I shop, this listing is for you.

Paris Flea Markets

The bad news is that there are relatively few bargains in Paris. The good news is, that’s not exactly true. There’s plenty of stuff that people get rid of because it’s old-fashioned or not needed, so it is possible to pick up vintage cookware, linens, and other things that locals cast off. And I’m happy to buy them!

Paris Flea Markets

I’ve developed a bit of a “bottom feeder” mentality and avoid the traditional flea markets, the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (usually referred to as the Marché Clignancourt), and the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, and stick to the brocantes that pop up in Paris during nice weather in the neighborhoods. Prices are much lower and it’s more fun to see what pops up as people are unloading their trucks. Below are tips on how to find them, as it’s not obvious to visitors (and some locals). Though I didn’t used to mind spending money on things, I am now more selective (and maybe more French?) and have become radin (cheap), focusing on things that are truly bargains.

Paris Flea Markets

It’s good to know the nomenclature. Flea markets (Marchés aux puces) refers to the larger, fixed-location markets in Paris, but it’s the brocantes and vide-greniers that I find the most interesting. Basically, a brocante is an open-air sale that includes professional dealers, but they’re lower priced than the fancy antiquaire markets and exhibitions. Most brocantes in Paris are a mix of dealers and particuliers, or individuals, who are non-professionals.

Paris Flea Markets

Garage sales and sidewalk sales aren’t permitted in France, so vide-greniers, or “empty the attic” sales, are the closest equivalent. These are collective sales held in various neighborhoods and folks in the quartier bring objects that they want to sell. These can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes it’s a lot of plastic children’s toys, other times, people are cleaning out their kitchens, and you can score. A braderie refers to a sale where things are marked down and there are rarely professionals, and a braderie often refers to a sale when things are sold rummage sale-style. (For the sake of discussion, I’m just going to refer to outdoor flea markets as brocantes, as they are referred to in Paris.)

Paris Flea Markets

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TGIF (aka DMCV)

fudge

Although it doesn’t quite translate, Dieu merci, c’est vendredi – or as I’m going to say in English, Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF), because it’s been quite a week. (On a related note, I was recently informed by a French friend that a 4-day weekend is not a vacation – it’s just a few days off, or a pont (bridge.) But even though I took an actual vacation, it’s been tough getting back up to speed.

fig cake

Since we all live in a 24/7 society, as you likely can attest to, just because you go away doesn’t mean you can “get away from it all.” There is always something to deal with; urgent recipe questions (It’s funny when people say something food-related is “urgent” – unless there is a famine or a natural catastrophe…or another disaster of similar proportion, I’m not sure it quite qualifies as “urgent”), paperwork, sorting through pictures, and dealing with travel arrangements, including the all-important act of making sure you have a decent seat on the plane home.)

can we talk?

Then there is a pile up when you get back; stuff that needs to be dealt with right-away; a backlog of mail, correcting typos and grammatical errors in blog entries, accepting invitations, declining invitations, writing back to the response you’ve gotten after you’ve declined, reading and responding to the response asking if you’re available another time, figuring out why teenagers would congregate in the alcove down the street that smells like pipi, realizing that there is a near-urgent need for you to restock your butter supply, and testing some recipes that have been on your mind for your blog.

Green figs

The fun of having a blog is that you get to try to share recipes that you find interesting. I try to put a mix of original recipes, recipes from recent cookbooks, a few oldies but goodies from cookbooks in my collections, and occasionally one from a cooking magazine that catches my eye. Along the way – especially this week – there have been a couple of goofs. The King Arthur Flour company always presents a hilarious round-up of their test kitchen goofs each year on April Fool’s Day. But since I can’t wait that long, I decided to share a few.

I was recently inundated with a few barquettes of fresh figs that I bought at a local flea market, where all of the vendors seemed to be from the countryside (who, as this map points out, Parisians consider paysannes, or peasants.) Call me a paysan, but I happen to like them regardless of what other’s say or think, and as I picked up a number of vintage jam jars, I also was able to trade valuable jam-making tips with some of the friendly men and women selling their wares.

Oberkampf flea market

One guy had three barquettes of figs and because he’s not Parisian and in a constant hurry, he had to count out each fig, one-by-one, speaking aloud about what kind of price to come up with, and how he needed to charge me per-fig. (We have a lot of fees and stuff in France, so at some point, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when there is a per-fig surcharge.) Um, okay. He slo-o-o-wly told me about the history of each fig as I stood there hyperventilating because of the all the bargains that were being snapped up around me, and my shoulder ready to fall off with my bag-full of heavy glass jam jars and the Saint James marinière (striped sweater) that was almost new and was a mere 50 cents, which I got so I can look a little more French. Although I’d have to stop shaving for three days if I really wanted to complete the look. (I also saw a hipster wearing a half-length cape the other day, and I’m not ready to go there, either.)

almond batter

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My Le Creuset Casserole

i love my loewy casserole

There’s always much debate over when it’s okay to telephone someone at home. How late is too later? How early is okay to call? Are they friends, or family? When I moved to Paris, a friend told me, Never call anyone before noon on Sunday.” I made that mistake once, and that was all it took.

So I’m sound asleep at 8am this Saturday morning (after getting home from dinner last night at 2am), there I am tucked into my bed, so warm-and-cozy, nestled between my linen sheets and goose down duvet, by little head dreaming of….
….and…“…..brrring….brrring….brrringbrrring!….Bbrring!….

Grrrr. So since I was up, I decided to hit the Marché aux Puces, or flea market. By the time I finished my coffee and got there, I’m sure most of the good stuff was gone. But this week I managed to pick up something I’ve been admiring for a long time.

pot of chile beans chile bean pot

I’ve been eyeing this casserole whenever I’d come across one over the past few years. Designed in 1958 by Raymond Loewy for Le Creuset, I love its combination of modernity and French utilitarianism. Vintage examples in good condition are rarely found since most have been well-used by French cooks. And recently it’s been re-issued, although in newer colors, not like the classic orange that you see.

Raymond Loewy was born in Paris, but made his mark in corporate America. He became the most influential designer of our time and designed so many things that we just take for granted. But during his era, the Industrial Revolution, people were fascinated by all that was new and liked products and designs that suggested a better, more modern, future. What he designed suggested speed and forward-thinking, an emerging machine-age where everything was sleek and streamlined, and this casserole for Le Creuset is no exception.

(This piece of cookware is called La Coquelle and was reissued here in France in several colors, but they have since taken them out of production.)

In addition to this casserole, Loewy designed the Studebaker, as well as the Lucky Strike, Nabisco, Shell, and Exxon logos. One of my favorites, though, was for New Man, a French clothing company.

Not many people realize this, but if you turn it over, it reads the same thing, “New Man”.

Go ahead, flip over your computer and see. I’ll wait.