02 April 2012

Shopping in Paris

Why do I like shopping in Paris?  Because it’s fabulous, that’s why!  On my first day I spent almost the entire budget for France/Belgium/Netherlands at the Porte de Vanves markets, and was hobbling and broke by the time we got back to the hotel.

I do hate having to walk away from beautiful things that I really want, but for the most part I was a good gel and only bought things that I have a realistic chance of selling at a price that will make my customers happy Vegemites.  The sacrifices I make for you, customers!  I hope you totally appreciate me.  For example, I was offered a beautiful vase for 250 Euro less than such a piece would ordinarily sell for, so it really was a bargain, and yet it was still an inhale-sharply-and-back-away-carefully price so I had to say no.  This happens a lot when shopping in Paris, and yet if you hold out for the bargains (the real bargains, the normal-person bargains) they eventually appear.

We had to make two trips to the van to unload our goodies – and the van was parked about a kilometre away so it was a bit of an expedition when we were fully ladened with stuff.  My poor cat trolley really took a pounding.  Last trip I bought the most enormous and heavy metal pestle and mortar, and that took a fair bit of lugging on cat trolley to get it back to the van.  This time I bought an even heavier metal book press, which is a really lovely piece but it broke cat trolley three times on the way back to the van and we had to make a series of running repairs on it.  Luckily, shipping back to Australia isn’t based on weight.  I had seen a book press earlier, but Doug had a spack-attack at the thought of having to carry it back to the van, but when I saw an even nicer one a bit later he was much more amenable when he realized I would be the one doing the lugging.  Not to worry, I had him well weighed down as well. 

So, now we have yet more Art Deco glass, some lovely cutlery (I think we’ve cornered the market on Art Nouveau carving knives with carbon steel blades – the best type – this trip), the aforementioned book press, copper saucepans and frying pans, enamelware and a couple of beautiful glass Art Nouveau ceiling light shades.  Paris isn’t the cheapest place to buy French linen tea towels but I scored a few, plus some really big and wicked looking tailors’ scissors.  I’ve been after some of these scissors for years and have never seen them at even remotely reasonable prices, but voila! – this trip I have three giant pairs and one merely big pair.  I did still suck my teeth over the prices, but in reality I’d never seen them at better prices so there was never any doubt I was going to snap them up.  I also bought an excellent French metal potato basket – Doug said he inwardly groaned as soon as he saw it because he knew I would be buying it (and he would be carrying it), but that was light compared to the three large wooden wine crates he later had to carry off.

I think my favourite thing is a lovely Art Deco electric lamp, which features a large metal figure of a snarling panther on a rectangular marble plinth and with a globe shade next to it.  Quintessentially French Art Deco, heavy as, and really lovely.  I’m not sure if it will make it into the shop or not at this point.  I also bought a nice selection of chromed (and needing to be rechromed) Art Deco car mascots, and they are really attractive.   I even got a kangaroo and a kookaburra mascot!  In the Paris markets!  They are very nice and small enough to bring back in my luggage, so it will be good to offer them soon after our return.  Some really will benefit from being rechromed, but they will look seriously spiffy when they’re done.

And jewellery!  Loads of lovely jewellery.  I am so blinged up now it’s ridiculous.  Even though I bought a lot of vintage American Christmas Tree brooches in England (because I only ever see them in England) I was waiting for France to make the majority of my jewellery purchases, and just as well.  Yet again, a huge amount of the budget is blown on jewels, but Doug just encourages me to buy more these days because jewellery is such a big seller for us, so I have carte blanche to shop ‘til I fall down dead on that front.

Then a late lunch and a relax in the hotel because we were exhausted.  And yep, turned on the telly and yep there was an advertisement with a young man almost naked, running about and exercising and such, with the best torso anyone has ever had, ever.  Doug begs to differ, but I maintain that a bare male chest is still a bare chest.  I said to Doug I don’t know what this ad is for, but it’s a really good one.  Even now, I don’t know what he’s advertising but I’ll have some.

And okay when I said shopping in Paris is fabulous, that was before I went to the Porte de Clignancourt markets today.  They are less than fabulous, these days, and primarily a market for gawking at a huge amount of very beautiful things that you won’t see anywhere else, but at prices that would make even a movie star on a movie star salary hesitate.  Mostly.  There are a few bargains to be had, but they are few and far between, though I did manage to fill cat trolley with things like some good ceramic baking pans (keeping one), a huge carbon steel ham knife, and very nice enamelware. 

I also walked away from but then came back to – quite a feat in the labyrinth that is the Clignancourt Markets - a very beautiful soda syphon that will convert into an unusual and lovely lamp and also a huge, bulbous mesh covered wine bottle that I will also probably get turned into a lamp.  My electrician Carl hates it when he sees me walk into his shop with yet another challenge for him. 

So, all-in-all there are heaps of entirely covetable things at Clignancourt, but this is not the place to shop unless you are an interior decorator with a Saudi Prince for a client.  Thank goodness I went so mad at the Porte de Vanves markets yesterday.  Next stop Brussels, and then on to Amsterdam.

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