Paris is the world’s most popular tourist desination, attracting nearly 15 million international visitors each year, and it’s not difficult to see why.
It’s a romantic icon for the world – a friend proposed to his wife at the foot of the Eiffel tower, how could she have possibly said no in this beautiful city?
I’ve mentioned the world’s biggest lightning rod, but there’s the Louvre Museum, the cathedral at Montmartre (with the booze hang-outs of Toulouse-Lautrec and his chums), Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the falafel vendors in the Jewish district, walks along the Seine at sunset…I could go on. I’m pretty sure you could spend an entire year in that city and enjoy a different wonderful thing every day.
If you’re really not into standing in long queues, and wandering around crowded attractions, there are plenty of other things to do. The 18th arrondissement (district) in the north is home to the Saint-Ouen flea market,with narrow streets as you look through the windows of wondrous tiny shops, cluttered with unique treasures, but make no mistake, if you’re looking for a cheap bargain, you’ll have to search long and hard to find one.
On your way here you pass through the more familiar style of temporary market (of which there many all over the city) full of stalls selling 5€ t-shirts with pictures of Bob Marley or Ché Guevara, and racks of cheap watches and jewellery for not much more. But pass through here and under the Paris ring-road and around the corner you find yourself at the market, which is protected as a heritage site. If you look for a watch here, it will have had a long history of nestling in generations of gentlemen pockets, and it will cost you a lot more, a hell of a lot more.
This is one of my favourite places in Paris. You can spend an entire day rummaging through a vast array of vintage clothes, crockery, military uniforms, and other curiosities that you must have, no matter the cost.
Wandering into a gloomy clothes shop, glass cabinets of vintage jewellery around the edge of the cluttered space surrounded the racks stuffed with clothes. Amongst it all something catches my eye. A black, pencil thin beaded dress designed by Paul Poiret in the early 20th Century, so stunning that even I, a man with a thuggish clown’s approach to fashion, was taken aback by its beauty. The flamboyant proprietor tells us that we can have it for a mere 1600€. I can safely say that whoever gets their hands on this will probably be the best-dressed girl in Paris.
Music aficionados can get their fix just around the corner at La Chope des Puces, the tiny gypsy jazz bar near to where Jazz Manouche legend Django Reinhardt lived. What can be better than sipping champagne with a musical treat for the ears in a place steeped in cultural history?
Have you been to Paris? Tell us your favourite place to visit in the comments arrondissement.