Friday, June 13, 2014

Do you like to wander through old shops and antique fairs?

With summer here, I caught myself in a reverie about some of the unusual places we found when we lived in Paris:  a clock restorer in Passy (the 16th arroundissement), with antique clocks lining the walls – fantastic pieces that had been in families’ homes (should I say chateaux?) for hundreds of years.  

We were looking for someone to repair three, non-working clocks that we purchased at Clignancourt, the huge flea market in Paris. We wandered into the clock restorer's shop in Passy. We were awestruck by the clocks on display – far grander and more finely made than any we had seen in French museums. After viewing the antiques in this shop, we knew that our poor pieces would not be worth the owner's time. But the shop owner was proud of his collection and he willingly showed us the pieces that he was restoring!

Another favorite adventure:  Counting the green Wallace fountains that provide free drinking water all over Paris.  These fountains are different from the natural mineral springs that you will find in some neighborhoods. The Wallace fountains were a gift from Lord Wallace and they are a great respite after a thirsty walk.

In March or October, we learned to frequent the antique and art fairs. What a treat just to walk up and down the aisles of these brocantes. 

La Foire Nationale a la Brocante et aux Jambon  was our welcome back to Paris after a quick home stay in the summer.  Located on the island of Chatou, just outside Paris, la foire de chatou is a fantastic antiques market and tribute to ham, yes, ham.  Wonderful antique pieces to look at while munching away on a baguette with ham stuffed inside.  Watch this video for just a taste: 

In May or November, don’t miss either of these:  La Grande Marche d’Art Contemporain or Antiquities Brocante a la Bastille. The Bastille art fair was my favorite place to find new, small works of art – watercolors and prints that now hang in our home. The antiques fair offered anything you could fancy from small watercolor sketches produced for gift card producers to leather couches from the Art Deco era.  Here’s a video at SortirParis to give you a hint of the fair:  

Walking through these fairs makes me think about the history of each item. I once picked up a pair of thin metal eyeglasses on sale at a Tokyo shrine sale (their version of flea markets). I was tempted for a moment, but I felt those glasses had too much of their owner still attached to them and put them down. Then I think of all the stuff I’ve collected over the years – all of it headed for a flea market someday? I know I become too attached to my own possessions because of the memories associated with them. One of these days, those pieces will be sitting on a table at a flea market waiting for someone else to pick them up and wonder about the person who once owned them.

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