All posts filed under: adventure

Marché Aux Puces (Flea Market) de la Porte de Vanves

Paris is famous for its flea markets and all the wonderful treasures to be found within them. We’ve written before about the pop-up brocantes (or mini flea markets) that happen almost every weekend rotating around various neighborhoods. But for the best finds it can be better to focus on the city’s larger markets, usually more of a time commitment due to location and size, but definitely worth the effort. The largest and most well known flea market is probably the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen, located just outside the city’s border near Porte de Clignancourt. It offers a mini village of individual vendors selling things ranging from antique furniture to vintage magazines, clothing and so much more. This market is truly an experience, and offers such a variety of items that it can definitely be worth the trip. One of our favorite markets in the complex is the Jules Vallès Market where there are a lot of well-priced finds to be had. That said, our recent impression of this market is that it’s become overpriced and a …

Montparnasse: A Guide Inspired by The Dud Avocado

Inspired by one of our favorite books about Paris, we decided to spend an afternoon in the Montparnasse neighborhood, formerly a happening bohemian scene in the 1920s and then again in the late 1950s. Now less of a nightlife destination, we were curious to see what the area still has to offer and also to check out the hotspots of Sally-Jay Gorce, the book’s young American protagonist. Although The Dud Avocado is a work of fiction, it’s based on the reality of this once booming left bank neighborhood and the lives of the creative, free spirits who spent time there. Settling in with tea at her go-to bar, Le Select, we tried to imagine the environment as it was 60 years ago– filled with intriguing artists, French regulars sweating out their drinks, and East Coast crossovers. “The waiters at the Select comported themselves with that slightly theatrical mixture of charm, complicity and contempt that one would expect from servants in Hell.” pg. 93 The Dud Avocado Explore the neighborhood in the present: – Pay a pilgrimage to …

Take the Metro to a random stop

Sometimes a random adventure is the best way to discover the best parts of a city! For this prompt, use the public transportation system as a guide and pick a random stop you’ve never been to. Get off there and walk in one direction for 10-15 minutes recording what you see with either photos or writing. Take notes on your impressions of the area, the people there, and use your observations to create a neighborhood profile. You might be surprised at what you find! Most of the world’s big cities have comprehensive public transportation systems, and riding them is a great way to explore and get to know the area. Remember: many of our ideas can be done in any urban environment! Nora: Metro stop: Porte de la Villette (Line 7) The edges of Paris next to the Blvd Périphérique are often neglected and overlooked as just the transition zones between the city and its surrounding suburbs. But recently more interesting spots have been popping up and make the trip to the outskirts worth it. I …

Museum Musings

Ekphrasis: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art (Merriam-Webster) For this creative adventure we decided to take a classic Paris activity–a museum visit– and get something more out of it than just looking at some pretty art. We asked ourselves: How do we best engage with a museum? How do we really get impacted and inspired by it?  How do we really feel a work of art? Prompt:  Pick a museum with an exhibition that interests you or somewhere you’ve never been. Take some time to explore and notice what artworks jump out at you, instead of scanning through the entire exhibit. Try to sit with the work of art that speaks to you most for 20 minutes or more and let your mind wander. If feeling inspired, take it a level further and pull out a notebook. Sketch the painting or simply write free-associations that come to mind, something you could turn back to later as a seed for a poem or short story. Our creative adventure: We chose …

Market, Moules, Meat, and More

For this week’s creative adventure we decided to get inspired by one of Paris’ largest and most celebrated outdoor food markets and challenge ourselves in the kitchen. Dinner party challenge: Think about a recipe or dish that holds some meaning for you. What is a dish that you’ve always wanted to make but have been too scared to try? Or the meal that your parents made for you growing up that instantly transports you back home? Don’t plan a meal that you know you have perfected. Challenge yourself instead to cook a dish that will make you feel something, be it nostalgia or pride. Make a day out of your dinner by shopping for ingredients at a local market (where prices are cheaper and food is fresher than in chain grocery stores). Wander around the stalls looking for not just any parsley, but “the most beautiful parsley” (as our favorite vegetable guy described it). Turn off your phone and take your time. Market Recommendation: The Marché Bastille takes place weekly on Thursdays and Sundays from …

All the old familiar places

It’s a strange reality of living in cities that neighborhoods where you spent most of your weekdays or weekend nights are relegated to places you once went, bars whose names you struggle to remember. You move to a new apartment, a different neighborhood attracts your attention, and subconsciously, you have moved on from that place and that time. Prompt: Pick a cozy café or place where you can lean back and reflect for a while. We chose Nuage Café, a co-working space in the 5th, where you pay for the time you spend there (4 euros per hour) with unlimited coffee, tea and snacks. The upstairs nooks (where you’re required to take your shoes off) with floor cushions are a great place to write and work. Think back on a neighborhood that had some significance to you (we picked the 5th arrondissement in Paris). Write a list of places (including bars, restaurants, apartments, spots where you kissed someone or broke someone’s heart) that hold meaning to you or that you simply like in that neighborhood. …

Rainy Day in Paris

Rain is a common occurrence in Paris and often unexpected. It can be sunny one moment and then the sky will open up and you will be drenched! But there are plenty of things to do in Paris in the rain, and the city takes on a kind of beautiful melancholy. Idea 1: KB Cafeshop + drawing exercise           Situated in the ever more hipster South Pigalle, KB Cafeshop boasts great coffee, sandwiches and homemade desserts. The close quarters of the tables provides a great opportunity for eavesdropping and observing fellow patrons. Creativity Break: “blind” drawing While enjoying your coffee, start people watching. Pick out someone who looks interesting and as discreetly as possible draw a portrait of them. Important: DO NOT look down at the paper. Keep your eyes on your subject until you have finished. (we found it a little awkward to stare at random strangers, so feel free to look around while drawing, just don’t look down!) Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your Picasso-esque results. Nora: Annie: …

Proust and a dream house

On a lazy afternoon head to your favorite cafe, park, or any other place where you feel comfortable and can spend an extended amount of time. Feel free to bring a friend. Bring the Proust questionnaire (questions about your personality and aspirations) with you and choose at least 8 to ask yourself and your companion. Take your time, but go with your gut when answering. You may find out something you didn’t know about yourself or your friend. Note: We picked Le Pavillion des Canaux in the 19th arrondissement. Situated on the Bassin de la Villette, this coffee shop/clubhouse is filled with funky furnishings and comfortable corners. We especially liked the repurposed bathtub option. At one time a private house, and with the rooms still intact, you will feel at home spending all day reading/writing/chatting or daydreaming. Annie Favorite object at le Pavillon: Nora Favorite object at le Pavillon :  

Brocante, Boot Coffee and a Photobooth

Directions: Start at a brocante (antique market). We chose the one at Richard Lenoir/Jean-Pierre Timbaud. Check this website (http://quefaire.paris.fr/brocantes) for dates and locations. Step 1: Wander through the brocante, while daydreaming. Pick a few objects you’d furnish your fantasy apartment with (or real one if you like). Don’t feel pressured to buy, but take pictures of what you like. What objects speak to you? Why are you attracted to them? What hidden treasures would you hide in that vintage chest?       Nora: There’s nothing more fun than meandering through a Parisian flea market and drooling over antiques. My eye is naturally drawn to old cameras, typewriters, forgotten photographs, and sets of glassware that make me dream of hosting glamourous dinner parties. Most recently I fell in love with a small wooden box complete with a working lock and key. But at 70€ it was just a bit out of my price range. Annie: I have a strange love (maybe addiction is a better word) for admiring decorations and antiques, but with my apartment …

Goutte d’Or

(on Google maps) Directions: Start at Café Lomi (3 ter Rue Marcadet 75018 Paris). Get energized for your adventure with a coffee or tea (we recommend the mocha). Make your way down to LaChappelle metro, try not to use your map. Take random turns. Get a little lost.  Prompts: 1. Take a picture of something red 2. What do you see that surprises you? 3. One word for your walk. What is it? Annie 1. something red: 2. I was surprised by how much of a world apart the “Goutte d’Or” feels, with its mosaic walls and fabric shops. Stretching the idea of “seeing,” I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed wandering around a neighborhood without a map or set plan. I spend so much of my time in Paris glued to my iPhone, racing to make a train or a bus, running down a street with the idea of my destination propelling me. I felt a bit lost turning off my phone and simply taking left or right turns, trying to navigate my …