A Diary of a Day in Paris, France
9am Puces Porte de Vanves, Avenue Georges Lafenestre.
This offbeat market is so much more approachable than the overwhelming Marche aux Puces Saint-Ouen, which requires a whole day of searching. Sadly, there are hardly any vintage clothes apart from a couple of stalls of incredibly expensive silk and lace negligees. However, the old photograph albums, endless plates of exquisite jewellery and my beloved golden teaspoons will leave you spellbound. It is enchanting, because each stall is more magical than the last and you can find yourself spending a little more than you intended on anything from an ostrich feather fan a la Jay Gatsby to beautiful musical instruments. Go early to find the best deals and don't plan on walking home with your finds crammed into a bin bag. It will explode.
11am La Grande Mosquee de Paris, 2bis Place du Puits de l'Ermite
The Grand Mosque of Paris was founded in 1926 by the French Colonial Empire as a gift of thanks to the Muslim infantry who fought in WWI. It has long since been treasured as a tranquil place of worship for the community in the 5th arrondissement, but also as a spiritual place for visitors to come and find a moment of peace. The gardens, which are entwined with roses and lush greenery are a wonderfully romantic place to meet on a sunny afternoon. Don't forget to cover your arms and legs otherwise you will be given the leopard print apron of shame to wrap around your waist.
1pm Le Bal Cafe, 6 Impasse de la defense
This little gem is the hipster dream; a brilliant little bookshop, gallery space and cafe with a contemporary modern interior balanced by platters of decadent cheesecakes, scones and gingerbread. Go in the morning to catch the fabulous breakfast menu.
This was a much needed coffee break after a naughty dive into the somewhat traumatic Musee d'Erotisme, Pigalle which I won't elaborate on for fear of being removed from the blogosphere. So, i'll instead say that the gardens of the Palais Royal were a much lovelier place to pause for a moment and rest our arms on the walk to Merci
.5pm Merci, 116 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 3e
Merci follows the same pattern as the over populated concept shop Colette on Rue Faubourg St Honore, but with sufficient breathing space to freely browse. Nestled behind its converted library/coffee shop, this vast space houses hipster threads, organic cosmetics, exquisite jewelry and an eclectic blend of quirky stationary, homeware and books.
It's a dreamy way of passing twenty minutes as you approach the edge of Le Marais. What is so wonderful about this shop is the affordable price range. Of course, some of the jewellery and clothes are extortionate, but there is plenty of stationary, sale items and kooky gifts to keep even the smallest of budgets entertained. Definitely worth a stop - including a quick coffee in their fabulous chairs.
9pm Le Reservoir - Mary de Vivo, 16 rue de la Forge Royale, 11e
Le Reservoir is very similar to my beloved Le Comptoir General on Canal St Martin. You can eat, you can drink and you can most certainly dance. You enter through an unmarked door and as the velvet curtain is pulled back and you find yourself in an opulent, yet crumbling old ballroom, which is decorated with an eclectic range of snakeskin chairs, cages and the odd bit of taxidermy.
It's a very bohemian crowd - all gathering to indulge in the delicious puddings, endless bottles of red wine and most importantly to minesweep abandoned chocolate almonds on the tables. What makes it such a fabulous place to spend an evening is the music. We went to hear a Brazilian singer/magician who had us twirling around in front of all the more sedate customers. After midnight the space descends into mayhem as space is cleared for the DJ. He played everything from old school Michael Jackson to J-Lo and various South American bands. We were certainly kept on our toes.
To end the night we popped our heads into the annual Bals des Pompiers (fireman's ball) kicking off on my street. Unfortunately, the scenes before us were definitely more Magaluf than St Germain, but it was worth the trip for the sailor's hats we cheekily pinched - bring on Halloween 2014.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com