It was Saturday morning and I’d woken up to a sour stomach. I knew the cheese I ate the night wasn’t sitting well so I’d put up my white flag early but not early enough to escape the queasy feeling in the morning. I’ve never known myself to react from cheese but there you have it, given enough mold… it might make you sick. Also on the agenda for Saturday mornings are the Nogent market. To my delight it was right behind Gosia and Arno’s place inside a building and pouring out onto the streets. I walked up with the smell of season potatoes and grilled chicken flooding my senses and preparing me for all the lovely things ahead. I did, however, have to be very brief in the cheese aisles as even my great love of cheese couldn’t quite handle it so soon after. But while I don’t have a kitchen to play in I did pick up a baguette, in true French fashion, a myrtille (blueberry) muffin as well as a few fruits to nibble on! All the merchants were so talkative and those who saw my long lens always wanted a photo and to chat. They loved to tell me they’d heard about Quebec – was I from there? I hated to let them down and say I was from the opposite end of the country but assured them I loved Quebec and I’d just arrived from there all the same.
The colors were vibrant and I tried on many pairs of leather gloves and still regret not having bought a pair while they were so cheap. Live and learn I suppose…
Back at the house I met up with Gosia and Arno and we bolted for the train to get to a “vide grenier” it means empty attic and it’s similar to a flee market in North America. They are filled with such lovely treasures but I opted not to take my camera out among these crowds feeling far safer since the atmosphere here was perhaps not quite so friendly or trusting as those at the market! Even their old fashioned ladders had me in awe! What I did find was a printmaking plate with a bicycle shape in it mounted on a piece of wood a few inches squared. I picked it up so I could adorn my new walls with something loveable and perhaps even print a few copies on paper or fabric if ever I needed a project.
When we all had enough stuff after spreading out their lot the three of us hoped onto the metro and made our way to the fabric district in Montmartre. It’s much different from what I’m used to. In France someone always finishes a task for you. For instance if you want groceries you tell the grocer what you’d like and they grab it for you, if you want fabric, you find and attendant and they come to you and they measure, cut and bill you on the spot. You don’t pick up a bolt and bring it to the table. It takes a little getting used to. It’s so natural to want to pick up every onion to see if it’s at the perfect stage or an apple to make sure it’s good and firm.
I really didn’t have any need for fabric so I eventually wandered off toward Sacre Coeur which is perched atop all of Paris at the top of the hill. On my way up a man stopped me to chat I guess he realized I wasn’t with the English girls in front of me each with their own open bottle of wine as they stumbled up the many stairs to the top laughing boisterously on what appeared to be a weekend away from home. “It is so lovely to meet such a pleasant Canadian girl” and on and on. It was perhaps a little flowery but in the end he was very complimentary and I went on my way. No reason for worry, no requests from him just one stranger meeting another and he was generous in his offering of kind words but eventually I kept on up the hill.
It isn’t very often in Paris you get to experience things from any height without climbing a monument so it was nice to look over the city and at the pigeons wandering amongst the tourists. Inside Sacre Coeur I took it all in, I breathed in the Cathedral air and when I felt I’d taken in the interior I sat for a while and prayed. Sat and just appreciated it all and did nothing but rest. It was nice and necessary.
Afterward I wandered this upper village overlooking the city, down its narrow alleys and past countless caricature artists making sure every tourist had their opportunity to be captured in pencil. I even found my last name in French as one of the street names “Saules” and then I saw a famous artists pixelated street art on one of the walls. It’s not every day I’m used to stumbling upon famous artist work. It might not have been Banksy but I wasn’t complaining!
I read a little about Montmartre after I left and discovered just how many famous little places I wandered amongst. Backward I know, but I hadn’t exactly planned out that leg ahead of time! It’s beautiful that in France everything is old enough and has history enough that you can walk the physical evidence of the footsteps that have gone before you and read the stories of the people who walked them. I forget how special that is and how much I love it. As the sun began to set I made my way to what turned out to be the station Amelie drops off the blind man in the film with a little double staircase surrounding the metro. I wasn’t looking for it but it found me!