Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

Alien's day out in Paris (Pt 4)

Now that my sister has left, it's just me as a solo traveler. I thought I would feel depressed and lonely after my sister took off, but there are really so many exciting things to do and see that I'm well-distracted from thoughts of loneliness. I've done some solo traveling before and haven't always enjoyed it, but for some reason, it's different here in Paris. :)

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So anyway, on Saturday, I headed to the St. Ouen flea markets (Marche aux Puces St-Ouen) by Clignancourt station. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but the Internet seemed to say it was worth a visit. Oh my goodness, I was blown away. The entire market area was really huge and I only got to view a couple sections of it before I got tired and hungry.

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The first part I walked through was the Vernaison market, which was definitely my favorite of all the market sections I saw. There were so many incredible antiques, knick-knacks, vintage items, and memorabilia from decades ago, long before my parents and even my grandparents were born.

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I could spend hours here, just getting lost in the narrow alleyways and exploring. I felt like a kid in a dusty attic, rummaging through my grandparents' chest of treasures.

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The lady in this photo reminds me of the Edna Mode character from the Pixar animation 'The Incredibles.' Except that she was much more cheerful than Edna. :)

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Perhaps my favorite stall at the Vernaison market was this store with vintage doll parts. So many disconnected heads and limbs, buttons and accessories... . completely weird and charming at the same time.

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There were a couple items I wanted to buy, but since they were all vintage, collectable items, the prices were rather steep! And since I hate trying to haggle, I ended up not getting anything. It's probably for the best though, because my backpack is already overloaded with stuff to take back!

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I briefly checked out the Dauphine covered market, which had lots of vintage poster prints and books.

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And then last but not least, Paul Bert marche had lots of antique furniture. I imagine this is where set designers come to get authentic props for period films and such. So cool.

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I'm so glad I checked out these flea markets, even though it is way up north, in a more dodgy part of Paris. Some websites made it sound like I was going to have to fight off hordes of aggressive street peddlers by the metro station, and while there were many of them, I actually didn't find it that bad at all. I'm sure there are plenty of pickpockets waiting to target naive tourists with their wallets hanging out of their open bags, but I don't think it's anything that can't be avoided with just a little commonsense.

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After the flea markets, I was starving, so I took the metro to Abbesses by Monmartre to check out Au Grain de Folie, a vegetarian restaurant with positive reviews on Happy Cow. My sister and I walked past it last week but it was closed, so I was relieved to see that it was open this time.

The space was small and cozy with only a few tables, so I was lucky to snag a seat right away. The interior was also very colorful and inviting, and there were delicious aromas coming from the open kitchen. When I went, there was only one older lady doing everything from cooking to serving, so she was quite busy, but still managed to juggle and meet all her customers' demands, and with friendly service too. Eating at Au Grain de Folie was like being at a cottage while your grandma bustles about, preparing a homey, peasant-style meal. You could practically feel the love that went into its preparation.

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I can't remember the exact name of the platter that I ordered, but it was one of the 13 euro 'combination' plates that was made up of several different components: a vegan vegetable tart, lentils, the grain of the day (brown rice), bread with vegetable pate, and two salads drizzled with a healthy dose of olive oil.

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The star of the plate was this vegetable tart, which was incredibly creamy eggplant purree on some crunchy crust. The lentils and brown rice (stir-fried with onions) was also delicious! With my order, I also got a basket of rustic bread to mop up any leftover deliciousness on the plate. The food wasn't as flavorful was one might expect and some might find it a bit bland, but it was simple, rustic, healthy peasant-ish food.

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While wandering around Montmartre (for the second time), I stopped at one of the cafes to get coffee and read my book.

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Around the same time, this awesome parade came down the street, with drums and festive costumes!

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I think this may have been part of the summer Music Festival that has been going on all week, or perhaps this was some other event. Either way, it was cool to see the locals getting just as excited as me, snapping photos and dancing about.

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At the end of the street, there was also a live music performance going on, which was a lot of fun to witness. I especially loved seeing kids in adorable costumes and boho outfits, singing along to the French songs.

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It was such a great day, checking out the flea markets, supporting a vegetarian restaurant, sippin' on cawfee, and joining in on the weekend festivities. The longer I stay Paris, the more I'm realizing that French people know how to live well and enjoy life. I love the fact that they take plenty of vacations and breaks, take their children to parks and festivals, sit alone at cafes on the side of the street, and also how they engage in passionate public displays of affection. And even though they might not have the most vegan-friendly cuisine, they do seem to recognize and value the quality of foods, which I reckon is always a plus. Oh Paris, je t'aime.