While in Paris with our toddler, the second bite-sized excursion Kirk and I took was to the famous Paris flea market, Les Puces de St. Ouen. (Sometimes known as the Clignancourt flea market after the closest metro stop.)
As usual, we planned this to take no more than a few hours so that we could keep Ingrid on her sleep schedule. (As much for our
sanity sake as for hers.) By myself, I could have easily spent the entire day at this magical place. But a couple of hours was all we needed to find a few little treasures, get a feel for the place, and find the perfect lunch spot…
When getting off the metro at the Porte de Clignancourt, walk several blocks north (through a swap meet) to get to the market. (Helpful tips on the market here, here, and in this book.) What I hadn’t realized before is that the market is actually made up of several smaller markets — each with its own specialty (textiles, knick knacks, furniture, etc…)
Prices aren’t cheap, but we had so much fun just looking. I ended up just buying a few tiny ceramic figurines (called fèves). They’re traditionally baked into a special cake on the Fête des Rois (kings holiday) once a year. Ingrid had fun just making them dance and talk in her lap as we pushed her around the market.
Oh, and most guides will say not to go on a Monday, because many of the stalls are closed, but we found that there was still plenty to look at, and the crowds were sparse.
After looking around awhile, we decided to stop for a bite to eat and to warm up a bit. By chance, we happened into Le Paul Bert, and had a perfect traditional meal: croque madame, green salad, and a ham and cheese crepe. I ordered chocolat chaud a l’ancienne, and it came with the warm milk, melted chocolate, sugar, and whipped cream all in separate containers to assemble as you wish. Tasty and so much fun! Made me feel like a kid again.
This place was a great find, because not only was it simple and delicious, they actually had a high chair for Ingrid! (High chairs are rare in Paris.) I’m glad we got there before noon, because by the time we left, it was much more crowded. It seemed to be mostly full of market vendors, though, because everyone seemed to be chatting with the owner and waiters as if they were old pals.
All in all, visiting the flea market ended up being a highlight of our trip! – Eva