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Paris Moment

Lunch at La Chope des Puces

On a recent trip to Paris we avoided tourist spots as much as possible, save for a night tour on the Seine.

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A night tour of the Seine. Young people hanging out on the river banks waved to the people on the boats, and being a tourist didn’t seem like such a bad thing.

Sunday we went to the Marche aux Puces, the flea market. We took the Metro to Port de Clignancourt. We walked through cramped aisles, looking at antiques, paintings, furniture, and some cool metal letters I regret not buying. We squeezed past lots of people. We grew weary. Time for lunch!  We asked a sleepy vendor what direction we’d find restaurants, and he directed us “a droit.”

So we walked down the Rue de Rosier, looking at cafes and bistros, at menus, at the food people were eating.  (“Does the food smile at you?” was our question to ourselves.)  We kept walking. Then we heard live jazz. We’d stumbled upon La Chope des Puces.

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We heard live jazz guitar coming from La Chope des Puces.

A temple to Django Reinhart, with a jazz school in the back, La Chope is one of the best places to hear jazz in Paris.

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Ninine Garcia, a jazz manouchist, otherwise known as gypsy guitarist.

We sat at a table right next to the musicians, and ordered from the blackboard.

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Cote de veau and potato and chanterelle salad. Food that smiles at you.

Around us, many people were served purple eggplant stuffed with lamb. The people next to us, a French couple entertaining guests, ate cheese and charcuterie and drank beer. A man standing at the bar downed an espresso. Another sipped wine. We ordered a carafe of water and a smaller carafe of rosé.

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Brochettes of duck, pepper sauce, salad of lovely potatoes and lots of chanterelles.

Listening to the gypsy guitar, we couldn’t stop smiling. The music, the place, the food and wine, the unexpected joy of a found moment in Paris.

Hours and How to Get to the Flea Market, from Seine-Saint-Denis Tourisme.

P.S. We found the French to be friendly and good-humored. French people are friendly if you speak French to them. And there’s no greater thrill than having French people understand one’s French, no matter how rudimentary (submerging from memories of school days, hardly used). A wise person once told me, “Speaking a foreign language is not for shy people.” Finally, on this trip, I dove in. So what if I mix up personal pronouns? The goal is to communicate and enjoy a great culture.  Trying works. Pointing helps too.

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