Saturday 10th July:Paris in a summer heatwave is an experience for any tourist especially as the air sits hot and oppressive on the streets, in the restaurants and the hostel rooms waiting for that never coming breeze.
We had our first night of a Paris summer evening last night, spending it, drenched in sweat, in our hostel room to the sounds of excited German school children on a holiday trip chattering the evening away along the corridor where the only semblance of a breeze existed.
We eventually drifted off to wake to another heat wave warning, blue skied day.
Today was market day. Joy had read about Paris’ largest flea market - Marche aux Puces de St. Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt - with 2500 stalls selling everything you didn’t know you wanted from shesha pipes, not so discreetly sold in Bob Marley coloured wrapping paper with none of the arabic flavoured tobacco we smelt and saw in Doha, to ethnic clothing from all parts of the old French empire, to leather gear for any purpose and cell phones that have their carrier locks broken along with antiques to furnish your apartment in any period you could wish from Louis XVI through to 1920’s art noveaux and 1940-50s kitsch.
We headed off there and spent the morning roaming the streets and alley-ways that make up the market where I ended up buying a solid leather satchel and a pair of shoes for 75 euros. Like I said I didn’t know I wanted them until I saw them.
Sufficiently shopped out we headed towards Mont Matre and the tourist art trap that is the old village above Pigalle and Blanche, the music-hall area made famous by Toulouse LaTrouec in the late 19th century.
We wove our way through the crowds, evading scissor wielding portrait cutters, waiters huckstering for trade and rapid portraitists, admiring the commercial audacity of the place along with the history that the area is known for then headed back down the hill to Abbesses and the bustle of the seedy shopping centre that runs along the foot of the hill. Finding little of interest, we Metro stop jumped across the city back to the Hostel and the pleasure of a bottle of St Germain Merlot, a roundel of brie, salami and a selection of fruit.
This brings me to a question: “Why is it that at home, in N.Z., the fruit we buy is hard, small in size, lacking in juices and aroma?” For every nectarine, apricot or peach Joy and I have eaten here is large, edibly soft, seemingly dripping with juices and aromatically inviting. I can only presume that N.Z. picks its fruit early to allow it to ripen while being shipped thus leaving the N.Z. consumer little choice but to buy the small, juiceless, aromatically lacking, hard export rejects.
However, it is hard to beat the sheer luxury of eating and drinking while watching the passing parade and enjoying the scenery of Paris.