10.02.2018: Puces de Vanves, Flea Market in Paris + Lidl Discount Supermarket

Had a free Saturday morning so I decided to venture out of Jouy-en-Josas despite the cold weather, out into Paris.

The Asian me still struggles to adapt to the lifestyle in Europe, where many places close early on weekends (or sometimes they aren’t open at all). A stark contrast to what I have grown used to over the past 2 decades in Asia, where weekends are often the busiest days of the week for retail stores and bring in the most customers compared to any other given day.

Thankfully, there is still the option of Flea Markets in Europe (and Paris of course), so I made it a point to visit one at some point in time during this 4 months.

Puces de Vanves is one of the few flea markets located within Paris, and is considered to be relatively less touristy. The other flea markets in Paris includes: Paris Flea Market and Les Puces de Saint Ouen.

Acutely aware of the limits of my shallow college student pockets, visiting Puces de Vanves was highly favoured – I was hoping to pick up a few pieces of unique antiques that were on the lower end of the price spectrum, and if I were lucky enough, a simple statement-making ring.

That was also my very first time taking the Tram in Paris – pleasantly surprised by the frequency in any direction.

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A brisk 5 minutes walk from the Tram stop got me to the start of Puces de Vanves. By that time of the morning, a sizeable crowd of locals were already there, rummaging through the boxes and tables full of antiques/old items on sale. It was a little more disorganized than I thought it would be, since this flea market was actually just tables after tables scattered on both sides of the walkway in a pretty much random fashion. Behind some of them were vans and trucks belonging to these stallholders, filled with boxes of items that were to be put on sale once the existing ones on the tables were sold.

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That aside, there was such a plethora of items on sale – almost anything you can think of: old utensils, alarm clocks, watches, rings, statues, carvings, art pieces, LPs, buttons, stamps… I could go on and on, but the idea is there.

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A refreshing experience for me, the least to say, since I had never visited a flea market proper. I guess what intrigued me most was the willingness of locals to purchased these old, second-hand items that were not necessarily in the best condition. Back in Singapore, while we do have Pasar Malams (flea market of sorts) they sold only brand new items, inspite of the very low prices. Not many people, I would think, would be willing to worn out second hand items.

Purely a window shopping trip for me – I did not find anything to my taste. But it was a well worthwhile trip on a Saturday morning.

My next stop was Lidl Discount Supermarket. I chanced upon it while looking on Google Maps the directions to Puces de Vanves, since it was located pretty close to the flea market.

As the name suggests, this is a no frills discount supermarket – minimal decoration, basic shelving, little to no customer service, and products found in the same carton boxes they came in. Not a problem at all to me, since the price at which the products were sold well justified the kind of service I was getting.

Let me tell you how beyond amazed I was to find Chinese glass noodles at such an affordable price of 0.6 Euros per pack in the supermarket. For such an expensive city like Paris, where non-EU imports had their prices jacked up so much, 0.6 euros was almost “dirt cheap” in that sense.

A very fruitful supermarket trip as you can tell!

Next up was a random walk along River Seine.

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I never knew that had such a thing (the padlocks thing for couples) in Paris too! Always had the impression (in my tiny Asian world) that only Nam San Tower had something similar to this.

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Paris was really rainy when I first arrived, so bad that Seine River flooded, water levels so high they had to shut underground RER stations down, museums taking preventive action (Lourve, for example!) by shifting their art collection on underground floors to higher floors.

This time when I was there, the water levels had gone down by a lot – back to normal levels, which is good because the RER C stations in Paris were FINALLY operational again.

And that concludes my one day tour in Paris!

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