Tuesday, August 24, 2010

au revoir to les puces de vanves

Did you happen to notice here, in the corner of a flea market display case, an oval frame with gold bullion embroidery on black velvet? For some reason, although I passed it up on first inspection, it stayed in my mind. You know the feeling, right? Friday night we were up late celebrating my son's birthday with a delightful dinner up in the Eiffel Tower. Nonetheless, I made myself a promise to wake up early and return to les puces de vanves the next morning. Maybe the framed piece would still be there for another look.

Of course, by now my suitcase was already bulging, and I really didn't need to exacerbate the problem. Still, I did have all those Euros I needed to spend, since most of my recent expenses were on the credit card and I was nearing the end of my visit. And Paris was experiencing a heat wave with temps in the mid-80s, so staying cool in the shade of the acacia trees that lined the market would feel good before the day heated up.

Following the now familiar route, I walked about 2 kilometres across Vanves to the metro stop for Line 13 that goes to Porte de Vanves, right near the flea market. As I wandered along the market's aisles lined with tables, I finally found the same vendor with all the religious artifacts. And there was the frame, still in its glass case, still with its hefty asking price. These vendors have styles and personalities that can make a purchase more fun or not. This vendor remained as brusque and haughty as before. But after a little bargaining, the frame and a couple other items were tucked into my bag. And with the purchase of sheets of old music for a Silver Bella swap and a handful of number-stitched torchons (dish towels) at two other tables, all my Euros were indeed gone.

Earlier in the morning, as I had been searching along the aisles, I noticed that another vendor whose quality wares I had liked on previous weekends was there again. With my Euros at this point still hopefully dedicated to the framed piece I remembered, I enjoyed merely looking and fingering various tempting pieces and asking him a few questions, learning from the information without intending to purchase. Then on my way out, as I passed his tables again, I once more lingered over a few still-tempting items, saying my goodbyes. Suddenly it occurred to me to ask him if he took American money. Of course! he said. This vendor was very chatty and particularly amused as I dug into the zippered pocket of my purse for my emergency stash of dollars. An emergency can be declared under various circumstances, right? We came to an amicable agreement over a set of 12 Napoleon III knives in their case, each of us enjoying the predicament and its stages of resolution. I smilingly told him he was très gentil, and he assured me that he really liked Americans. :)

Original case and label of l'orfèvre E. Peter (ancienne boutique Rue Fléchier à Paris)

For the rest of my trip, I have sworn to buy only consumables, like the yummy petal-shaped sorbets on cones we bought this afternoon. Oh, and the French CDs that will slip into my purse. I'm old enough to still enjoy singers like Charles Aznavour and Jacques Brel who were au courant when I was in college. And bal musette singers like Fréhel, who led a tragic alcoholic life somewhat typical of the 1920s-30s.

When I return to Virginia, I hope it will have cooled off a little, because I will probably be wearing both my sweaters, both my scarves, my jacket, and my heaviest shoes, not to mention layers of assorted clothing, in order to lighten my suitcase carrying my treasures. For once, I will be glad that the long flight home will be in a cold airplane with a drafty air vent too high to reach.


1 comment:

Debby Schuh said...

Have a good trip home! I wish I was going to be there when you unpacked all your goodies!