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You can live in Paris on a Teacher’s Income if you Shop at Saint Ouen

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Okay, I’ve said it.  We’re teachers.  We’re very poor teachers that live in Paris.  We aren’t retired yet, nor do we expect to retire in the near future.  We are Americans living in Paris who cannot retire in the United States, and cannot retire ANYWHERE.  So what do we do since we can’t retire?  We COME TO PARIS to teach!!!  How crazy is that?  Yeah, a bit .

Today I woke up and it was raining and thought, ” there is no way that I’m going to trek to the RER train, change  in two places on the metro, get off in a  Northern Suburb of Paris and walk to the ends of the earth to shop in a soggy flea market.”  But that is exactly what I ended up doing.  And it was the best time of my life.

The stalls, the long paths through incredible mazes of stalls is more than can be described. But I will try.  First, it was wet, and some stall owners had given up and  left remnants of what was and what had been –  packed up and gone home.  Others were lucky because of their wonderful plastic tents and covers, so, as they usually do, they stayed.  And they smiled and they asked me to check things out, to take a look, and most of the time it was a “No, Merci” kind of answer because there is no way that I could stop and talk and look and browse because there was WAY to much to get through to do so.  The antiques section was so lovely and not really of interest to me because I need things to survive, like FOOD and  BELTS (to keep my jeans up) and maybe a MOP.  But antiques?  Jewelry? Ralph Lauren type Leather Steam Trunks?  I think not.  What about awesome antique dinner rings, cameos, one of a kind antique watering can?  What about a 1940’s fur  coat complete with hand muff and siberian style fur hat?   What about antique handbags, the kind my mom used to carry?   ….ahhhh, NON!

Not now anyway.  But as I weaved my way through wonderful things and stuff and baubles and paintings and furniture and vintage clothing I was reminded that this was a museum all to itself.  A wonderful memorabilia type of museum.  You can’t help but be enthralled and amazed at the vast amount of items that people once owned that brought them joy , perhaps,  that has  history  of its own, that new persons are going to own again and the story continues and continues.

It was absolutely delightful. And I think shopping in the rain made in even more so.  It was less crowded and the shiny wet streets added a distinct flavor and ambience to the entire setting.

I bought things from Senegal vendors and Ethiopian’s just because I liked who they were and how they reacted and the things that they said.  I may never light the incense or wear the earrings, it doesn’t matter.  They were just so personable and kind, and had great smiles and I felt blessed to be there among the hard working people, just another visitor, tourist, woman with an American accent. BUT,   they treated me as though I was the only one.   When I tried on my fake leather boots the guy was so nice and said, “here I have a special place for you to try them on – right here “, which actually was a top a huge box of shoes and he swore that it was safe and secure and I could “sit there”.  I had to laugh.  I thought to myself, I wonder if the posh place in the Marais that has my coveted tall red boots with the ballet type leather has a place to try on THEIR shoes as fun as this?!?

That was my trip to the Saint Ouen Flea Marche at the Metro Clignacourt stop and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

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