Parisian Adventure on Rue Daguerre

 © 2013 Todd Mecklem

© 2013 Todd Mecklem

One Sunday a few weeks ago, my sweetie and I decided to check out the community yard sale (vide-greniers) on Rue Daguerre in the 14th arrondisement. It was a beautiful day for a stroll along the shops and stalls set up along the street. It’s not a touristy place at all, and has an authentic French feel about it. The neighborhood doesn’t have any actual yards nor garages to hold yard sales so they just set up tables out in the street, which was closed to traffic.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but this community yard sale was amazing. There were some 200 residents who had little tables set up with curiosities, antiques and junk. It was a very social event because the stalls were jammed next to each other.

Rue Daguerre vide-greniers  © 2013 Todd Mecklem

Rue Daguerre Vide-greniers © 2013 Todd Mecklem

I wandered down the street looking at the stalls and saw designer clothing, vintage jewelry, children’s toys, lots of books, used kitchen tools, odd paintings and figurines, and all kinds of other stuff. At one woman’s table, I rummaged through some old jewelry and at the bottom of pile was a plastic bag with a dusty old makeup case set. I pulled the items out of the bag and realized the objects were covered in face powder, not dust. I brushed them off a bit, and saw that the cases were covered in silk, with petit-point insets created by hand. The woman selling them said they were from the 1950s and were “typically French.” I bought the set as a fun souvenir. There’s a comb case with a comb, a lipstick holder that looks like it’s not been used, and a compact with powder and a very fuzzy feather powder puff that I’ll probably toss.

petit point

Of course I had to dig through all the boxes of scarves in case there was an Hermes silk scarf calling my name; I didn’t find one but I did find this colorful scarf by Carven. It cost a euro!

The best part of the adventure was yet to come. I sat down at a cafe for a while to people watch and Todd came back and told me he’d seen and gotten to talk to film director Agnès Varda. Wow! For those not familiar with Madame Varda, she’s a French film director whose early works are considered precursors of French New Wave cinema. Her films include the seminal Le Pointe Courte (1956) and Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962) and the more recent Beaches of Agnes and The Gleaners and I.

Meeting this iconic director was a great experience; she was gracious and charming. She was busy selling things at the sale for a non-profit she works with that empowers young women so I didn’t ask her for an autograph. Also, I didn’t want to look like the déclassé American tourist in front of her home and business.

For more information on Agnès Varda, see this short essay at the Criterion Collection and her faculty page at the European Graduate School. Her company, Ciné-Tamaris, produces and manages both her and her late husband Jacques Demy’s work.


Agnès Varda © 2013 Todd Mecklem (She’s in the middle.)

Sue Agnes

Sue exults after meeting Agnès Varda. © 2013 Todd Mecklem

This adventure down Rue Daguerre was one of the highlights of our trip. I’ll write soon about a Man Ray exhibit I saw in London and a haute couture exhibit in Paris.


Flea market fun in Paris

One of the highlights of my trip to Paris was a visit to the Vanves flea market (le Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves) in the 14th arrondisement. The variety of neat old stuff, interesting Parisians, and bad 70s art made for a very entertaining and enjoyable morning.

My husband is the photographer in the family, and he’s agreed to let me use his photographs from our flea market outing on my blog. Merci beacoup!

Photographer © 2012 Sue Mecklem

Illuminated Baby © 2012 Todd Mecklem

Buttons © 2012 Todd Mecklem

Hoofed Cutlery © 2012 Todd Mecklem

Puss Moth © 2012 Todd Mecklem

Bright colors © 2012 Todd Mecklem

Locals at Vanves © 2012 Todd Mecklem

Tiger and Beauty © 2012 Todd Mecklem

What, you may be wondering, did I find? I bought a beautiful old brooch and a colorful silk scarf. I was inspired to buy the scarf after seeing a chic Parisian woman with a bright Hermes scarf around her neck.

Dreaming of Paris

I’ve been dreaming about our upcoming vacation later this summer in Paris, plotting what to pack, what exhibits are on (Eugene Atget!!), which sites to see (Chartres or Versailles?), and what to eat. Part of the fun of the trip is the planning. There are so many possibilities, but of course we can’t see them all.

My husband and I both love wandering through the different Parisian neighborhoods, or arrondisements. We eventually plan to walk through all 16 arrondisements; on our last trip, we walked from the 14th arrondisement to the Simone de Beauvoir bridge, shown below.
Simone de Beauvoir bridge in Paris

We’ll certainly come across beautiful fountains.
St. Michel fountain on Left Bank

Fountain in Place de la Concorde

When we’re not walking, we’ll take the subway.
Paris Metro station

And of course, we’ll need to stop for nourishment.
Lunch at a Paris brasserie
We’ll stop by a cemetery or two.
Offerings on Baudelaire's grave, Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
Tomb in Montparnasse

I’ve read that this has been a very cool/damp summer in Paris; I’d prefer sunshine but as long as we’re in Paris, the weather really won’t matter. And if I don’t pack warm enough clothes, there are plenty of department stores to explore.

Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris

Cemeteries can be beautiful, peaceful places to walk, meditate on life, and appreciate interesting art. One of my favorites is Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. It’s in the 14th arondissement, which is where we daydream about living someday. Some of the famous people buried here are Simone de Beauvoir, Susan Sontag, and Man Ray.

Here are some of my favorite photos from Montparnasse on our first visit.

Stained glass in crypt window

Blue on gravestone

Cat statute on grave

Green door on crypt

Boeuf Bourguignon in Paris and Portland

Photo 2010 Todd Mecklem

We had a wonderful dinner at Cafe Daguerre in “our” neighborhood in Paris, the 14th arrondisement. We’ve eaten there a few times, and really like the local feel to it.  I ordered the boeuf bourguignon and Todd had a croque monsieur and carrot salad. The beef was incredibly tender  and the bacon and wine melded together to give the meat a hearty, delicious flavor. We had a local red wine for dinner.

When we got home, I made a pot of it using the recipe in Paris in A Basket: Markets – the Food and People written by Nicolle Aimee Meyer & Amanda Pilar Smith. It turned out pretty well though I’d like to simmer it longer next time because the flavor wasn’t as good as the Cafe Daguerre’s. Maybe they used real burgundy or maybe everything just tastes better in Paris.