I spent Monday morning exploring the slightly unreal feeling world of antique markets just north of the expressway loop from where I stay here.
I had gone last time and only scratched the surface. On getting directions from a kind shop keeper with some letterpress type, on my second visit I dived into a tiny alley and, like Alice down the rabbit hole, I found a whole, expansive, unexpected world. There are rows and rows of, basically, storage units, but each is an individual shop that can open (or not) at the will of the owner. Like the Istanbul bazaar, there are also cafe and other amenities tucked in, though I didn't see a mosque.
I wandered and looked a good while, bought one nifty letterpress "m" to use on posters or cards, and did one sketch. I may return next Monday for more drawing.
This time, in addition to the one market I already knew about, I was told to try other entrances off Rue des Rosiers (not the one in the Marais). Apparently there are many of these surprising places that somehow fold space. The one below was far grander than the first one I found, and somehow not as charming (or as affordable), but fun to walk through.
Many of the dealers specialize in certain areas only. One guy was selling purely coffee equipment --- pots and old grinders. Others only had clothes or prints or old tools.
One only had Carosel horses.
I wouldn't say this is up there with seeing Notre Dame, but it's an unusual and charming bit of Paris for anyone heading this way with enough time to get off the beaten path a little.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.