Don’t be dismayed at the view as you emerge from the Porte de Vanves Metro stop, early on a Saturday morning. Streetscape aesthetics are of secondary importance to the flock of white vans over there across the road. Be drawn fatefully towards them, for that way leads to adventures in happy kismet. Over 300 flea-marketeers are about hold you spellbound for hours. Crammed on tables, piled on blankets, you will find landscapes, papyrus, diamonds, laces, nutcrackers, wedding dresses, swords, spiders, bibles, maps, lamps, the most beautiful modernist chest of drawers: time travel piece by piece. Prices can be astonishing, at either end of the spectrum. Ignore them. Hold out as many crispy Euros as you think that painting is worth, raise your eyebrows jauntily and take your chances. At about 1pm these treasures will disappear surprisingly quickly back into the white vans. You will go home on the Metro with many flimsy plastic bags and an aura of contentment.
They label their perfumes ‘from our trips, with love’.
Call them ‘A quiet morning’, or ‘Shanti Shanti’.
Petales de roses et santal des Indes, Iris pales, feuilles des patchouly, baies roses et cardamone…
You don’t need to have French to imagine that on your skin.
Or ‘green, green, green and…green’. Tranquility itself.
In the shop two professors, shocks of grey hair, were conferring earnestly with a young Japanese woman.
They were the Miller and Bertaux, and she was showing her embroidery.
I saw it later, restless threads on a pilgrimage of homespun. Little cloth bags.
This place is kind of holy. Make sure you come here.
He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily. “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”