Friday, December 26, 2014

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

A return to the Paris series...

Clignancourt is home to the world's largest antiques market but to get there, you'll need to hold your breath and clutch your valuables close to you. This area is really quite iffy to the typical middle class North American traveller. It's on the outskirts of the romantic idealized Paris and most people would probably not even head out this way but we wanted to see the antiques market that attracts some of the wealthiest and most eclectic collectors in the world.

Some very strange and unusual things

It is exactly what you think it is. This store specializes in these!

First, you'll ride the metro out to the end of the line at Porte de Clignancourt. As preparation, should you decide to venture out this way, I would suggest you pack your cash in a cash belt for travelling and keep it close to your body and not let on where your funds are. I'd also suggest you not dress too fancy. We got out to meet a tour guide (which is highly recommended) to take us around. When you exit the station, you are greeted very enthusiastically by peddlers of (likely stolen) iPhones and other expensive smart phones and counterfeit (or stolen) high end watches/goods. Our guide provides us some background about the history of how these markets came into fruition and a little about the neighbourhood. There are many immigrants who live here in coop/government subsidized housing and you can tell it's not quite the same beautiful old architecture of the downtown Paris. The governments are trying to gentrify things but you know how thing like that are...

Many non-Parisians shop and ship things home!

We are initially led through a small temporary market of tents and tarps where people are selling cheap trinkets that are probably made overseas. Apparently many tourists don't get further (probably because they were nervous like I was!) and get sucked into these markets, thinking they're the real deal. Unfortunately for them, they are so ever wrong. The actual antique markets are further away and you need to keep going. There are several complexes of markets that have many vendors who carry things from Louis Vuitton travel trunks to vintage clothes and posters to antique furniture or old street lights or even small vehicles! I tell you, it's a sight to behold!!

One of the many complexes of vendors

We are led around a variety of markets and realize that we probably should have come out the first time to get acquainted and then return to see which places we wanted to narrow our searches down. Unfortunately for us, our planning wasn't as good as we wanted and we only had the opportunity to be introduced to the area.

All sorts of things!

In addition to the antiques market, this is the area where the French gypsy jazz, Jazz Manouche was born. Jazz Manouche is characterized by the lack of percusion instruments, brass or wood. The most common instruments are 2 guitars (one to keep the beat), bass and violin. It's a very eclectic sound that is unique and has the ability to bring you to a old time of Europe that I can't put my finger on. We visited a restaurant called La Chope de Puce where they had a live trio of 2 guitars and a violin play. For those music enthusiasts, you might know that this is the place the instigator of this music made it big... Django Reinhardt. It's most definitely worth checking out if you make your way out to the antiques market or even just to head out.

Learn Jazz Manouche

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