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PARIS, France

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Author Topic: PARIS, France  (Read 6828 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #120 on: June 29, 2009, 09:56:49 am »










Prestigious images



His landlady was the formidable Madame Rachou, who craftily monitored the activities of guests with a panel of bulbs on her front desk. They glowed according to how much electricity was being used in each room.

Harold used his bed-sheets, as well as his bed, to fashion a makeshift darkroom. He ate well on market discards.

I can re-trace his food-gathering routes, but it would be impossible now to follow his other centime-saving practice, foraging in the street for scraps of camera film.


  Up in my attic room, I listened to recordings he had made of how the hotel used to be. The interior: dark hall, dust, paint peeling, bust doors, cracked windows
 
Remarkably, some of his best known Beat images, now displayed in prestigious international galleries, were captured on small scraps of celluloid salvaged from unused ends of film thrown away by newsreel cameramen.

The Beat Hotel closed in 1963.

Harold had moved from room to room until he was the last left to turn out the lights. Madame Rachou and her bulbs had retired.
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Bianca
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« Reply #121 on: June 29, 2009, 09:58:08 am »










Fragrant atmosphere



When it was relaunched as the Hotel de Vieux Paris in the 1990s, it had gone markedly upmarket, from Beat to boutique. Now it is getting a Naked Lunch plaque.

Beat fans have long made the pilgrimage.

Inspired by Harold's tales, I recently spent a night there.

Up in my attic room, I listened to recordings he had made of how the hotel used to be. The interior: dark hall, dust, paint peeling, bust doors, cracked windows.

A Turkish toilet on each floor - two footplates, a hole in the ground - and no lavatory paper, just a telephone directory.

Another Beat Hotel resident, Verta Kali Smart, playing an African piano of flattened bicycle spokes, the sound from the bar, fierce arguments, solo rages, laughter, coughing, singing, crying.

And he remembered the smells: perfumes, marijuana, Gauloises, oil paint and food. People often cooked in their rooms.

Others trawled the corridors for a sniff of something cooking in hope of a meal.
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Bianca
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« Reply #122 on: June 29, 2009, 09:59:36 am »











'Flea-bag shrine'



Today the whole building would be viewed as an art installation, but in its time it was dismissed by some critics as "a flea-bag shrine".





Despite going upmarket, the hotel still attracts fans of Beat culture



Another guest, the Beat poet Harold Norse, who died this month, predicted the hotel would one day be "a flea-bag shrine visited by art historians".

That image of Burroughs with the wire baskets is on the mantel piece at Harold's home on England's south coast.

It was the first of several photos he took of the quiet author known as the Invisible Man.

I asked how he had got to take it, expecting a complex tale of Beat Hotel favours. Instead, he had simply heard Burroughs was being interviewed for a magazine.

When the door to Room 15 opened, and the journalist and photographer were ushered in, Harold followed, took one shot, and made his exit. The cat burglar with a camera had snatched the cream.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2009, 10:01:26 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #123 on: July 12, 2009, 10:40:49 am »


 
A trader in unusual trinkets at the Porte de Clignancourt.
A teddy bear missing an eye.
An Air France handbag.
Empty tins of Soviet-era caviar.
Tripods and traffic lights.
A lava lamp.
Fur coats and cheap suits.
A bad painting of ships under full sail.
Piles of antique leather camera cases.

And nowhere to maneuver.










                                    Hunting For Treasure In Paris' "Marches Aux Puces"






Travel,
Ed Alcock
The New York Times
July 1, 2009

This was the flea market along and around the Rue de Bretagne on an afternoon in late May: crammed with bric-a-brac; shoppers swerving, stopping, accelerating and trying not to step on the toes of the people dining at the outdoor cafes; and me, the Frugal Traveler, hunting not just for a bargain but for something truly special — without, at first, much luck.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 11:02:16 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #124 on: July 12, 2009, 10:46:00 am »











The marchés aux puces, or flea markets, of Paris are legendary. In fact, the name itself originated at the biggest and most famous, St.-Ouen, just outside the city’s ring road at Porte de Clignancourt, where back in the 1880s (according to ParisPuces.com, a Web site run by the Association des Puces de Paris St. Ouen) an “unknown bargain hunter” looked down from nearby fortifications, observed junk dealers selling scrap metal, rags and old furniture, and exclaimed, “My word, but it’s a market of fleas!”
Apocryphal? Perhaps, but whatever the origin of the term, les puces, as they’re now known, are synonymous with treasure hunting. In the 120 years since St.-Ouen coalesced, other markets have sprung up in every corner of the city, and in many different forms. During my Frugal Traveler trip to Paris, I hoped to explore a few, find some prized items and — fingers crossed — successfully bargain for something I loved.

The Rue de Bretagne, in the northern part of the Marais, was, though chaotic, a good starting point. Technically, this was not a marché aux puces but a vide-grenier — an attic-emptying. Vide-greniers are the least formal markets, popping up in a location for as little as a day. (See www.vide-greniers.org for a schedule of vide-greniers throughout France.) Just about anybody can sell their knickknacks there — and that’s both their appeal and their challenge.

I waded through the foot traffic, unsure of how and where to stop, or what price was right for a particular object. One stand was selling a metal sign, written in Hindi, warning, “Danger! High voltage!” What is such a sign worth? How can anyone be an expert in Hindi signs — not to mention old LPs and amateur paintings and midcentury desks and gooseneck lamps — and stay sane amid the frenzy?

About to lose it, I spotted a rack of children’s clothes, and in short order had bought for my daughter a hand-knit, machine-washable, rainbow-striped cardigan with pearlescent buttons. It cost 10 euros, or $14.43 at $1.43 to the euro — a bargain even I understood.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 10:48:04 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #125 on: July 12, 2009, 10:51:02 am »











After the vide-grenier, I was ready for a proper flea, but not yet St.-Ouen. Following the advice of a family friend who’s lived in Paris for years, I started with the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, on the south side of Paris. Vanves, open weekends, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the friend wrote by e-mail, wasn’t as high-quality as St.-Ouen, but had better prices. A friend of a friend, she added, allegedly “bought a genuine Kees van Dongen painting there … for just about nothing.”

On a grim Saturday morning threatening rain, I rode the Métro to the southern edge of the city and began looking for my own van Dongen. Vanves was set up in a much more orderly manner than the vide-grenier — a single path, lined by vendors with folding tables, that arced around a soccer pitch. There were several “we’ve got it all” stalls, but many were specialists. I saw vintage Art Deco paper and solid metal tools once used by artisans whose professions no longer exist. An antiquarian book dealer sold first editions of Émile Zola (160 euros and up) and “Et On Tuera Tous les Affreux” (“And We’ll Kill All the Ugly Ones”), by the cult novelist Boris Vian. The novel cost 80 euros so I passed on it, though I’ve since seen it online for as much as $350.

Just before the rain came down hard, I found La Libre Caverne des Illustrateurs, a stall that sold drawings and paintings by little-known, often unnamed artists. A 1949 pencil sketch of Sengho, a village in what was then French colonial Guinea, caught my eye — the sharp details, the simplicity of the scene, the lack of sentimentality. I also liked a watercolor of a fisherman, done in the 1930s by André Galland, an illustrator whose posters sell for $100 to $2,100, according to Dustin Stein at Galerie Mistinguett, in Great Neck, N.Y., which specializes in vintage posters.

Individually, they were 15 euros, but when I asked the vendor, Mikaël Kervennic (33-6-1116-6057), for a discount, he let me have the two for 25 euros in all.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 10:54:15 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #126 on: July 12, 2009, 10:55:25 am »











With one successful bargaining attempt under my belt, it was time to brave St.-Ouen, open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On the way up north to Porte de Clignancourt, I imagined a snake pit of buyers and sellers and traders and dealers fighting over dug-from-the-basement Rembrandts and pre-Revolutionary cutlery sets.

But St.-Ouen was orderly. Occupying several blocks, it was divided into separate, warrenlike markets specializing in different products. Well, sort of. Skimming ParisPuces.com, I couldn’t figure out how, say, the Dauphine market, which sold Renaissance period dressers and industrial art, was unlike the Biron, where you could find “luxury goods and gilt objects.” And so I just began at the first market I came to, the Vernaison, where the Puces de St.-Ouen opened as an organized institution in 1920.

Unlike the vide-grenier and Vanves, the Marché de Vernaison was easy to navigate. The vendors weren’t using folding tables — they operated out of open-faced storefronts, leaving plenty of room to wander in and out, or just walk on by. And the objects they were selling were indeed of higher quality — and, as my friend had warned, more expensive.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 10:56:41 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #127 on: July 12, 2009, 10:58:50 am »











A pair of leather club chairs, broken-in but sturdy, cost 2,200 euros. Two painted metal dragons, made in the early 20th century and meant to adorn walls, cost 750 euros as a set. The fuel tank from a Mustang fighter was 12,500 euros. A selection of striking 18th- and 19th-century Japanese lithographs seemed almost reasonable at 50 to 300 euros. The initial price was often not the only problem: A set of six painted wooden chairs, for example, cost 650 euros, but their vendor explained it would cost that much again to send them to my home in New York.

At the showroom of Pierre Héteau (Alley 1, Stand 37; 33-6-1050-6566), I found my first deal. Among shelf upon shelf of copper pots — the kind of gorgeously made cookware you’d never actually use, with delicate engravings and patterns on every shiny surface — I found a tire-bouchon, or corkscrew, its handle made of twisty old wood, for just 3 euros. As I paid for it, Mr. Héteau, a hefty, steel-haired man with a thick mustache and a blue apron, explained that he’d sold over 500 pieces of this beautiful cookware to David Bouley and indeed was about to send Mr. Bouley the huge copper alembic, used for making Calvados, that occupied much of the floor space.

Did the alcohol distiller, which cost 8,000 euros, still work?

“Percé, hélas,” he sighed. It had a hole.

A few doors down from Mr. Héteau’s shop was a stand filled with homey, prewar relics (Alley 1, Stand 29; 33-6-0349-6546). As tinkly old jazz played on a stereo, I sifted through piles of vintage fabrics, eventually settling on a 1930s white tablecloth with a red embroidered geometric pattern — very Deco, but 88 euros. I was determined to get it for less, so the salesman and I began negotiations. First, we discovered that three of the six matching napkins were missing, so that brought the price down to 80 euros. Then I countered: Surely he could do better?

Seventy-five, he said.

If he could do 75, then why not 70?

He called his boss, Florence Nugue. I waited. He put the phone down. He nodded. Victory!

But, I instantly wondered, should I have bargained harder? Possibly, but at least I’d saved 18 euros. And now I have this very nice tablecloth, on which my daughter, wearing her new sweater, can spill wine from a bottle that I’ve opened with my new corkscrew.


Vivent les puces!
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 11:01:15 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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