Friday, January 04, 2013

France Day 2: Les Puces de Saint Ouen (Paris flea market) and Saint-Denis

The famous Paris flea market (Les Puces de Saint Ouen--which literally translates to "the fleas of Saint Ouen") was my destination on this rainy Saturday morning.  The market is outside of the Boulevard Périphérique of Paris (the road that circles Paris and is the border between Paris and its suburbs) and is a bit difficult to find once you get off the last metro stop on Line 4 at Porte de Cligancourt.  The best directions on how to find the flea market can be found here.

I learned very early on in my trip that at times it is important not to look like a tourist--especially in a city where tourists are plentiful and people who try take advantage of them are prevalent in certain areas.  The walk from the metro stop at Porte de Cligancourt to the flea market is one of those places.  There are plenty of tourists around and you will have no trouble finding another person from the US who is probably on the same mission as you.  The trick that I found that worked for me is to put your headphones on and not look anyone in the eye!  It sounds silly but I didn't have anyone bothering me.  I just walked with intention and acted like I knew where I was going.  It is sometimes hard to avoid but I never pull out a map in the middle of a crowd to try to find where I am.  It shows that you don't know where you are and I feel it makes you vulnerable.  I love maps and do a lot of studying them before I leave on my trip so that I am more familiar with the area.  By the end of my trip I had it down to where I'm pretty sure the only way you could tell I was a tourist was the way I was dressed.  I just cannot sacrifice comfort on my feet when i'm traveling!  European women walk around in cute boots and heels all day and I don't know how!  I even saw a grandma walking in the Bois de Boulogne in heels. On a dirt trail!

The flea market is HUGE.  I have heard of people who have lived in Paris many years and still haven't seen it all.  I walked down Rue des Rosiers to the Marché Vernaison.  The market is a series of very narrow streets/alleys that have permanent "stalls" with doors that close at night.  Some are nicely put together:


From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012


I didn't end up buying anything but saw some neat stuff as I was walking east down Rue des Rosiers (which became increasingly desolate the farther west I walked):

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



They can even make old heaters look cool!

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012


I stumbled upon Église Notre Dame du Rosaire, a church Brigitte has never heard of:

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012




Beside the church is a little courtyard with a memorial to all the Jews who were deported from this neighborhood from 1942-1944. The sentence on the bottom of the memorial says, "Every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights".

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



I turned around to see Sacré Coeur peeking over the hill at me (not the last time I'd see it from various places in the city)

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012


I was now near the Garibaldi Metro station so I got on Line 13 and rode 4 more stops north out of the city to the Basilique de St-Denis Metro stop to see the beautiful Basilica.

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



The St. Denis Basilica is famous for being the burial site for many French monarchs.  There is an area of the Basilica where you can pay to see the tombs, but I didn't  pay.

I got back on the Metro Line 13 and rode 6 stops back into the city to Guy Môquet which is in the 17th arrondissement behind Sacré Coeur.  The neighborhood was very quiet and there weren't many people around.  As I walked beside the Montmartre cemetery I was surprised at how few people were around since I knew I was near Sacré Coeur, which is very popular.  I turned a corner and literally hundreds of people were milling around the tacky tourist shops that surround the beautiful Sacré Coeur Basilica, one of my favorite churches in the world (no photos allowed inside):


From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



It does make me sad how this church is completely overtaken by tourists and some people seem to have little respect for it, but it is very beautiful inside and the view from the steps over Paris is magnificent. It is a must see for a first timer to Paris but I wouldn't bother hanging around the neighborhood, just my opinion.  I love the church; too bad it has to be in the middle of all that stuff I don't like.

On the way back to my apartment I caught these cool photos in the Pont Neuf Metro station on line 7:

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012



Of course the orange seats caught my eye!

From France Day 2 - April 28, 2012

To see all my photos from day 2 click here.

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