Flea Market On My Avenue

By | March 21, 2017

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.

I am not a chineuse, or bargain hunter who frequents flea markets or yard sales for stuff.  It is just not my thing to accumulate bric a brac that I no longer have any place for in the first place.

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!

At any given time, you can find outdoor neighborhood flea markets sprouting in various arrondissements in Paris, in addition to the permanent ones, Marché Aux Puces and Vanves Marché Aux Puces.

Many tourists come to Paris and wouldn’t think of leaving without going to le Marché Aux Puces, which many years ago was much more a haven for hidden bargains than it is today.

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 eagle eye for things that I would just gloss over, and can explain in layman’s terms why that object deserves more attention.

Liz, my Paris based friend, currently on a mission in Frankfurt to learn German to add to her repertoire of foreign languages is a frequent visitor to Le Marché Aux Puces  here in Paris.

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.

For me buying material objects are for the most part an empty venture.  Additionally, especially now, they can quickly become clutter, that I definitely do not need.

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.

The latest designers shoes, clothes  and baubles are for those who feel a need to give an illusion of value that they sadly do not have of themself.

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.

If that be the case then let the desire to be one, that you can not leave alone, as that being an indication.  Otherwise, let it go to someone else.

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?

Need versus want is the question here.  If you are a collector of specific “things”, and have the space for it, then why not, if it add value to your overall collection.

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.

Delaying  gratification is something that most of us have to learn, and is a valuable asset for mature human adults  to engender.

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.

A stand selling Russian military clothing and nic nacks looked nice and I did like those blue striped navy  t-shirts, that reminded me of Lux Amour brand from Brittany.

Lovely old ornate mirrors trimmed in gold framing always catch my eye as well and I could envision a few on my walls.

There are always furniture upholstery masters, usually busily plying away with their craft, as did this man who seemed pleased to have his photo taken.

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.

As one of my old friends liked to say: you never see a you-haul parked at funerals, in that you can’t take it with you to the afterlife.

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.


13 thoughts on “Flea Market On My Avenue

  1. Andy Feehan

    I like your sense of detachment from “stuff”. Much of this indeed was once something of sentimental value. Only human relationships matter in the end. All these things just pass through our hands.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Andy for you comment, much appreciated. Love we share with our children and others I believe can transcend death. As a very talented artist, who creates tableaus for others to admire and pass down as heirlooms, I wonder how you feel about your works of art being shared in future years?

      1. Andy Feehan

        Good question, Cherry, and thank you for the compliment. Honestly, I have mixed feelings. First, I hope that my work is preserved and passed from one person to another out of appreciation for what the work does for each person. I do have an ego, and I hope people remember my name and associate it with something they admire. I hope my work makes the world just a little bit more beautiful. My immediate family, I hope, will remember me personally when they see the work. After that, well, nobody will. That’s ok. Some of my work has been lost, some of it has been destroyed. That hurts. After I’m gone, I won’t care. Right now I am grateful to be alive and to have the opportunity to do what I love. I am very fortunate.

        1. Cherry Post author

          Well said Andy about the attachment and hopes infused in your art. As an artist, you can achieve more of immortality doing what you love to do, than most of us mortals, as of course your name is preserved along with your canvases. You are indeed blessed to have your God given talent few possess and master. Keep making our world more beautiful with your artistic interpretations, which gives joy to us admiring your work. Hugs

          1. Andy Feehan

            Thank you for your kind words. Hugs to you too.

  2. Eddie Narozniak

    We downsized about 20 years ago. Our children were on their own so we sold our house and moved into a townhouse. The children received a lot of our furniture and “things”. The townhouse was roomy but confining. We lived there for two years and decided we needed something else…bigger. The result was we bought a house that was larger than the first house. This meant we had to buy more things to furnish the new home. We bought from flea markets, antique stores, consignment shops, ebay, and individuals. Now we, again, have too much “stuff”. We need to sell our things to flea market merchants to get rid of old, unused “junk”. It takes up room and is never used. We actually use only three rooms in our house. The other rooms just sit idle as if a show room. We have not learned to control impulse buying, a real reason why so much appears in the home. Books that have been read long ago, sit on shelves or in closets. We say we are going to read them again but, in reality, we know we won’t. Clothes hang, waiting for me to lose weight or to come back in style. Neither will happen but they are ready. What will eventually happen is the disposal of all of this will be up to our heirs.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Eddie for your frank and honest sharing about your experience around accumulation of ” stuff”. I can certainly identify with your dilemma about decluttering all that you have. It takes a lot of energy to do that and especially given that there may be a lot of stuff forgotten away in boxes, as in my case. Hugs

  3. David Stone

    Cherry, I enjoyed your article; it was “right on” about so much of the issues related to material things. We have strolled through a lot of flea markets in south Florida . . . mostly just passing time and “looking”; but rarely, if ever buying anything. Even the art fairs are are usually the same type of fare; and one only has so much room for that type of stuff. My French Canadian wife has a family philosophy that “if you haven’t used something in six months then give it to charity”, which she does on a regular basis..

    My “thing” is tools. I have a garage that is packed with almost every kind of tool that one can think of, from eletronics and electrical tools, mechanics tools, to wood working and plumbing tools. I just like to have the tools neceassary for whatever needs to be done. When I go into Lowes, Home Depot or Harbor Tools it seems like I already have one of almost everything. . years ago I gave up buying the best stanless steel versions of the tools; I just need one that will do the job when I need it ; and that may be just a couple of times a year (or less). half of any job is having the right tool to do it. So I hold onto all of my tools . . . Ha! (June says tht the first thing she will do when I die is to clean out the garage by giving away all of the tools . . . some lucky guy will get it for nothing.)

    Our home is only 2400 sf; and June says that is bigger than we need or that she cares to keep up. When we bought the house 23 years ago, the main criteria (for me) was to have a faiir size living room that I could convert into a home office . . . I was tired of often working at a remote office until late at night. Large homes tend to have a lot of wasted space that simply is rarely used. Unless one does a lot of formal entertaining, large living rooms are basically a waste of space . . . and one pays a premium in costs and taxes for that unused space and to maintain it.

    I don’t think that my parents ever threw much away; they had “stuff’ going back to the late 1930s and 1940s. When I was cleaning out my mothers home to have a caregiver live with her, I paid a company to cart away three tons . . that is TONS of stuff from the house, Dad;’s work shorp and the storage shed . . . and that was just the “EXCESS stuff”. My mother, with her dimentia, spent several years perpetually sorting through the all of that stuff and moving it from the house to the shop to the storage shed, back and forth. So, we try to keep things as minimalmistic as we can . . . (except for my tools . . . Ha!

    Yes, I think that simple is much better than cluttered with so many things. Unfortunately my steop daughter is one of those who keeps EVERYTHING to the point of almost being a “hoarder”. That drives June crazy when we visit.

    A simple, somewhat streamlined, uncluttered life just seems to be so much more comfortable; but each to their own. June thinks that our house is bigger than we need; but the spare bedrooms are neededed when the kids or relatives visit. The other spare bedroom was converted long ago into an office for June and she uses that daily. June has always kept all of the financial records; bills etc. and there were boxes of that in our attic and elsewhere. She just went through it all and sshredded a dozen or so boxes of records (several large garbage cans) . . . she even burned out one shredder doing that. We didn’t need 33 years of records . . . Ha! She whittled it down to one year of billing records and the seven years of tax reords . . . it is so easy to accumulate so much stuff and that winds up filling storage spaces in closets and the attic.

    At retirement age it is just so much easier to get rid of all of the excess stuff. I’ll never be ready for a condo or an apartment, I need my space to putter around a little. I’ve done so much work building and working with condos that I KNOW I don’t want that type of life style for myself. I’m in the midst of refinishing all of our wooden kitchen cabinets; can’t do that type of stuff easily or comfortably in a condo or apartment.

    Our community of 3,676 homeowners has an annual garage sale weekend (it creates a traffic nightmare). We tried it once and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Everything just goes to Goodwill or other charities. People really need relatively very little in the way of material things to use or enjoy. They say that people tend to wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. So most of the clothes take up a lot of space for nothing. Meanwhile I have a closet with over 40 shirts and 40 pants, which I rarely wear. With the weather in south Florida, I tend to wear shorts and different types of T-shirts most days, esp. in retirement life. I don’t need the business suits and other business clothes any longer, a couple of suits is more than adequate. I probably wear 5% of my clothes 95% of the time. . . a dozen or more pairs of shorts and 40 – 50 types of T-Shirts. Yeah, after writing this I need to clear out most of those clothes; and one can always buy something new if the occassion arises . . . and even men’s fashions change a little. People just tend to accumulate and hold on to a lot of unneeded stuff that clutters their living environment. .

    So your blog article really was to the point, most of our material stuff winds up just taking up space and not really being used much, if at all. And it is a lot more comfortable to get rid of all of that (except for the tools . . . Ha!). When we have gone to flea markets in the past, it is rather amazing to see what people buy. We long ago gave up going to the flea markets or the craft shows. June has always kept thigs somewhat cleaned out and simplified; but now we are “getting down to the bone” of what is really needed or not.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you David for sharing what a lot of couples in our age bracket are going through. You are lucky to have someone who like to declutter on a regular basis. I tend towards hoarding, so fortunately I am not given towards materialistic accumulation, except for my kitchen. Don’t throw away your tools! You are saving tons of money by renovating your house yourself! You have every right to be a professional hobbiest.
      The majority of American expats that I know living in Paris, don’t really mind living in lilliputien spaces, if the beauty of Paris is right outside their door. I would love to have more garden space though, but am grateful that I do have a decent balcony with an open pleasant view. I have to refrain from bringing home another plant, unless they are herbs, durable flowers, and citrus.
      A lot of Parisians, who have the money to do so, have little houses in the country, where they go on weekend retreats.

      1. David Stone

        Everyone, esp. retirees, need to have some type of hobby and interests to fill their days. During my working years, my work filled almost all of my time; but now I have the time for doing a little traveling and all of those projects that I didn’t have the time for . . . and I have the tools to do then now . . . Ha!

        You seem to have sort of the “best of the best” living in Paris, your “hobbies” of cooking, traveling to the markets and historical places seem to be well fitted; and your blog is an interesting way to share it with everyone . . . and that probably motivates you to do a lot of that to write your interesting blog articles. All of that would seem to require a rather robust energy level and contribute to your health and perspective on life.

        When June is hesitant to do a few things, which she occasionally is, I have to remind her that we at at the height of our “quality of life” years; and should make the most of this stage of our lives. One should “use it before you lose it” . . . that has become my philosophy in our day to day lives. We KNOW how life will somewhat evolve eventually; so enjoy it. My sister-in-law is like a lot of retirees who fall into mostly watching TV and feeling bored a lot of the time.

        having cleaned out my mother’s home of that three tons of accumulated stuff, and remembering how she spent her last years shuffling and sorting through all of that stuff, that just made me rather acutely aware of how older retirees lives can “evolve” into those types of situations. I think that a good start for most people is to simply purge their living environments of all of the excess stuff that just takes up space, and clutters one’s living environment; and in doing so it may bring a little focus to them as to what truly interests them I’ve seen the “back side” of the third-third of life, and that motivates me to try to optimize the enjoyment of our lives while we have a good quality of life . . . none of that lasts forever. It is all about enjoy one’s “quality of life”

        You seem to have developed an extremely good quality of life; it should be an inspiration to others who read your blog. Of course, living in Paris seems to offer a lot of opportunities for your gourmet cooking, and the accessibility of markets and historical sights; it is a rather unique place to live.

        The intent of my comment is to perhaps motivate others to reflect on their lives and how they live from day to day . . . our lives are what we make of them regardless of where we live. The purpose of life is to just enjoy each day to the fullest . . . and as I remind my sister-in-law who loves to travel, everyday can’t be a vacation trip (without spending all of your money . . . Ha!) There just seems to be a lot of retirees who are bored and who become less and less active . . . what a waste at a point that should be a prime time in their lives. It is the little day to day things that count; and that is up to everyone to handle in their own lives.

        I hope that your blog articles are stimulating to others to think about how they live and enjoy their lives day to day. As I used to tell my daughter “boredom is a personal problem “. In the third-third of life one should make the most of each day. you are an inspiration for doing that.

        1. Cherry Post author

          Thank you David for your comments about retirees tendencies to retreating to a more subdued lifestyle, that lack cultural and intellectual stimulation. Most common is retreating to the armchair and not getting out, walking around and being curious.
          Yes, Paris is a great stimulus for all these wonderful things, and it may take more effort to seek those things out elsewhere, but each community offers a lot of things to do also. Travel is in my opinion essential to see how the rest of the world thinks and lives and adds a dimension that easily is unobtainable otherwise. Packing your bags might the best exercise ever.

  4. Isham Smith

    Cherry , as Robin and I travel we always avoid the interstate highways and travel the back roads stoping at road side fle markets more for entertainment than to buy anything,some times we try to figure out what in the world was that ever used for.
    I do like to buy home made bird houses and feeder if the price is right.
    I also wonder about the past owner of these
    Items and how it came to be in a fle market.
    Though I can’t feel the energy in these items I know it’s there though .
    We also like to go to Jefferson Texas where they have a lot of antique shops and fle markets some are like museums and other are like junk shops. But it’s always fun to do.
    Hugs to You

    1. Cherry Post author

      I love hearing that you buy homemade bird feeders Isham. Perhaps one can never have enough to feed the birds, a very noble and kind geste. Jefferson is a very pretty old East Texas town that still tries to retain semblance of its past, and I understand you enjoying going to the antique shops, at least to look. Hugs

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