Friday, February 7, 2014

Postcards from Paris: A Different Shopping Experience - Les Puces

I have a fetish for old, beautiful plates.  I'm trying to build a collection of antique mismatched plates from my travels.  Imagine what kind of conversations that would spur at the dinner table!  It blows my mind how these pretty things have survived centuries.  No different from historical sights like fortresses and towers, monuments and palaces, these things too carry a little piece of that same history with them - stories of wars, plagues, revolutions, loves lost, loves won.  I especially like the idea that these objects were made at a time when artisan hands made them, and not some robot in China.

Paris is filled with old things, but they are beautiful and elegant, just like its architecture.  Since I can't take the Grand Palais home with me, I will settle with a couple antique plates.  This is my kind of Parisian shopping!

I went to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, a quick metro ride from Montmartre.  Puces in French means fleas.  I expected a disorganized array of useless junk you would often find in yard sales, but what I came upon pleasantly surprised me.

These things sold here may be old, but they are maintained or restored beautifully!  I found so many pieces I wanted to take home!  The puces is a melange of open-air stalls, with each shop specializing on something - be it furniture, jewelry, kitchenware, fine china, French clothing, books, postcards, art, or quirkier trinkets like antique letters!  Walking around stall to stall felt like I was walking into a mini-museum filled with objects of anthropological significance curated lovingly.

Here it is - my antique plate shop!

I did take home three plates from this place - a more recent Galvani porcelain, a 19th century French Assiette, and a Blue Delft from Holland!

I've got my plates and I got my history on.  As I was making my way back to the metro station, I ran into a painter working.  Something about his paintings struck me, so yes, I took one of those home, too.  Here's artist, Francois Mafoua, with a work of his that is now in my dining room called "Marriage au Village Kimongo".  He's originally from Congo and he paints village scenes of his homeland.  He told me that I picked a happy painting, one that depicts how people of the village cook together for days in preparation of a wedding feast.

Nobody I know goes to Paris in search for modernity.  What makes Paris so romantic, exquisite, and extraordinary beautiful is that it is old.  I did not think I would one day appreciate the beauty and romance of old things, but what makes Paris so extraordinary if not the history?

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