I wrote this before my son died, so it’s just being published now. The trees are still bare, and the skies just as cloudy, only less cold, thank goodness.
When the flea market comes to your own neighborhood and plants itself on your own street though, it is another thing.
Since I live on a large major avenue, which is always noisy, full of people, and never sleeps, the photo was taken early on a Sunday morning, when the sound of bird chirping can still be heard.
As soon as I exited my building, I had to zig zag clusters of people in front of tents offering all of sort of various goods for sale, making it hard to totally ignore.
Thinking it might be somewhat interesting for those of my blog readers who do like these sort of things, I decided to visit all the stands, at least for you!
I do not have the talent nor the eyes to pick out any bargains or great treasures. I can only wish that my dear friends Anne or Liz could be with me to point out the very things my eyes rarely see. Neither could join me today.
Anne has a marvelous and elegantly appointed interior design shop called Coco’s Mercantile in West Monroe, Louisiana. Full of very chic furnishings and art that she assembles with much talented style from various designers.
She has an excellent eye as well, and has lovingly furnished her pretty apartment with her finds.
However, Liz knows better than to invite me along when she goes flea marketing, as I will undoubtedly damper her shopping spree by questioning her need for whatever object she fancies and especially the purchasing price, that she rarely will question.
Fortunately, I am not an impulse buyer, nor an accumulator of objects. When you have to adapt to living in a small Parisian apartment, there are sacrifices to be made, because there just is only so much space.
I do love accumulating books, which has been on hold for quite some time. Kitchen gadgets and wares are very tempting to me, but again I am fairly restrictive, knowing that there is only so much space and that great results come from know how, imagination and love, not from the latest machine or utensils.
I have a hard enough time getting rid of old clothes, sentimental articles and so forth, so better to not add anything, unless it is pertinent to my well being.
Wanting does not equal needing. I might see several things that I could desire, but I always question if I really need it?
Basically in our everyday reality, we need very little materially. Trinkets and baubles are vacuous dust collectors.
Ditto for expensive antiques, or jewelry, unless you want them as an investment to pass on as a legacy to your children.
Having said that, if you find a certain irresistible treasure that sings to your heart, then buy it of course. Perhaps we are sometimes called to buy something for whatever reason not understood , except a very overwhelming desire.
On the other hand, if you really need it, then by of all means buy, if the price is attractive and below what it would be new. It there is no real need, ask yourself how often will you use it and how have you managed before not having it?
To buy, when there is not any real need, becomes a sticky question. If you are a professional artist, or anyone where buying something will increase your ability to progress in your career, craft or art form, then there you have your green light.
There weren’t many people interested in violins, violoncelles, or violin bows: perhaps not too much violin players were out today. However loads of ladies were going through gloves from the 60’s, as if they were a good buy?
If you are buying just on a whim, or especially to impress others, then you are buying for the wrong reasons.
Developing disciplined restraint, whether buying something or doing something is a wonderful behavior to master, as basically you are giving back control to yourself , rather than being “controlled” by fly by night baseless desires, whims or wants.
As I passed through the white tented stands, you could sense the old energies of those myriads of ancient cups, plates, and glasses that someone in the past owned and maybe treasured.
If not for their worth, perhaps they offered a connectedness to a beloved deceased relative, who cherished them.
All those pretty silver teapots and tableware were probably at one time family heirlooms, that someone in the past valued and frankly never thought they would be offered for sale on a cold indifferent flea market table.
I felt a sense of sadness for the energy they carried and hoped that the new buyer would treasure them as much.
Knowing that these merchants go out and advertise to buy estates and or haul away all your unwanted clutter, might be a good service in that in recycles material things, but I ponder the loss of sentimentality attached to a love one’s treasures.
There were plenty of silver plated trays, sauciers and serving pieces from a hotel in Monaco that were more reasonably priced and they were the only objects to entice me. Nevertheless, I walked away, knowing similar wares are easily found in a city where restaurants have come and go for ages.
The heavily made up lady selling fur coats looked lonely, practically hidden in the corner of her client empty stand, as if perhaps trying to avoid being insulted for selling what is now considered taboo furs.
The majority of objects for sale are rarely priced, inviting you to ask the price if interested. I see that as attempt to size up the inquirer in surmising their ability to pay a higher price.
As soon as I would open my mouth, with my accent giving me away as a “foreigner”, I often felt that they immediately would hike up the price especially if they think you are an American.
For expats living here in need of furnishings with a preference for antique looking pieces, I have a special place to go. I have seen many beautiful old armoires, tables, chairs, etc at Emmaus, donated from family estates, which the French are tired of looking at and generally avoid, preferring modern furniture.
Started by Pere Abbé Pierre, a French Catholic monk and priest, to help the poor, homeless, and refugees, Emmaus is an organization that provides training to them in furniture and electrical repair. They have several stores around Paris, each one receiving donations from the closest arrondissements.
Before I had some of my grandmother’s furniture finally shipped over, my first huge dining room table, chairs and bed frame came from Emmaus.
If you can get there before the flea markets sellers, who comb through these outlets religiously, you can find real bargains that you will rarely find in a flea market.
It is a perfect incentive for you to start using your beautiful fine silver, crystal, and porcelain and what not, instead of keeping it hidden away for “future” use.
If not used by you today, be very mindful that your heirlooms and treasures accumulated tenderly by you over time, and lovingly admired by your eyes, can easily become someone’s else’s junk buy tomorrow.