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storybook bread and a flea market

Day 59-60 - Port de Vanves and Poilane


The Port de Vanves flea market is like a sidewalk Galeries Lafayette but the stallholders are all drinking wine from the back of their vans. Two of them ask where we're from, find out we're from New Zealand, and get very excited. Suddenly, we're in the outskirts of Paris watching two men hooting with laughter, doing the haka, and commenting about how our rugby team is full of "big men". The stallholders don't even need to see each other to carry on a conversation. They'll just shout at each other between their shops and then break out into bawdy laughter. The closer we get to lunchtime, the drunker everyone gets. 



Old men with their dogs are promenading, giving stallholders a royal wave, stopping to shake hands with others. Stashed away against the fence, a group of them play checkers. 


The sheer volume of old stuff you can cart away with you is truly amazing. We don't get this kind of size and scale in New Zealand. Sometimes, you have to crouch down and rifle through a container of jumbled badges, metal signs, silver cutlery, and whatever else is in there. Other times, the stall is tidy and organised; everything is priced and you suffer a little sticker shock when a charming old tin container is 35 euro. Interior designers and stylists must go absolutely nuts walking these streets. I'm just a friendly amateur and mild hoarder and I have to concentrate so hard, I get tired from the constant looking, examining, and rifling. At the end of the day, my hands come away a little dirty.


There's a painting that's a little Dorian Gray-esque. I imagine that a very old lady somewhere has misplaced this portrait of her younger self and is terrorising a French neighbourhood to get it back. Well, here it is in Port de Vanves. 


Rob browses the stalls with the watches and gets a bit of sticker shock himself. The wily old men know what's up with the watches and price accordingly.


After miles and miles of stalls and a quick baguette for lunch chomped down at an intersection, my chosen souvenirs are an old tin that the lady accidentally dropped on the ground, and a tiny pendant with coral coloured lucite roses and a seed pearl. Rob has bought some old cigarettes in their original packet, unopened. We wander away from the flea market, a little shell-shocked and ready for a long Saturday lunch.


There's ingredients for spaghetti back at the apartment but for special French flair, I take us to Poilane to buy the food-famous Poilane sourdough. Ever since I read an article in The Gentlewoman about Apollonia Poilane, I've been weirdly obsessed. I treat it like a visit to the Eiffel Tower, barrelling in, gasping, and taking multiple pictures. The shop is tiny and picture perfect. The shop assistants all wear brown linen aprons. The walls are lined with all types of bread that I cannot name but I sure can attempt to eat.


We buy a quarter of the Poilane miche. They charge by weight and then slide it into a sturdy brown paper bag with the Poilane name curling in cursive on the outside. We get home and dig in, spreading President butter on the slices and scooping up errant buts of spaghetti sauce. For a moment, we're two kids playing house in an attic apartment in the 5th arrondisement, gleefully chewing on bread and butter. 

bad hot dogs for lunch and a noob on a Paris Velib bike

finding my religieuse at Fauchon and bodybagged statues at Versailles