The weather is still thoroughly depressing, although we’ve had a bit of blue sky and sunshine today. It rained last night, and has been slightly warmer, so much of the ice and snow has melted. Snow is sliding off roofs with a sort of whooshing noise; water is dripping, splishing and splashing from trees, bridges and guttering, and the pavements are awash with puddles and pools and rivulets of water spreading between lumps of dirty, rock hard ice which are still adhering to the ground, seemingly no smaller or softer than they were yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. There is water, water everywhere, and if the temperature drops overnight then roads and paths will be like a skating rink tomorrow morning.
I have lots of pictures of the snow, which looks very pretty, but I am so fed up with it, I thought that for this week’s Saturday Snapshot I would cheer myself up by posting some photos I took in Paris last May, on a lovely, hot, sunny day when it was so nice we wandered around without coats or jackets.
These were all taken in Le Marché aux Fleurs (the Flower Market), at Place Louis-Lépine, near Notre Dame and La Conciergerie, on the Île de la Cité. It’s one of my favourite places in Paris, and is absolutely fabulous, a riot of colour and perfume, guaranteed to lift your spirits if you’re feeling down (though I’m sure I don’t know how anyone could ever feel down on a trip to Paris).
It really is heavenly. You can smell the flowers before you see them – the fragrance hits you as you step out of the metro at Cité. Flowers, trees and shrubs are banked up high inside and outside the metal pavilions that have been there since 1808, and you find yourself walking through long, narrow alleys of flowers which overwhelm your senses. Along the Quai de la Corse, on the bank of the Seine, there are more stalls housed in metal huts which are surrounded by pots of flowers stacked up the walls and spilling out onto the pavement.
The market is open every day, and on Sundays the Marché aux Oiseaux, or Bird Market, takes place alongside it, with all kinds of birds, from tiny finches to large parrots, all squawking and cheeping and twittering and singing, and as you walk from the Metro taking great gulps of flowery air you hear all this birdsong. And, despite the name, you’ll see many other small creatures here - fish, rabbits, gerbils, rats and so on. I don’t know about you, but I always have problems with the idea of animals in cages. However, I would have to say that whenever I’ve walked round the market the creatures all looked happy and well cared for.
One of the things I love about both these markets is people watching. There are smartly dressed, elegant women, workmen in their overalls, scruffy teenagers, and pensioners leaning on sticks, peering around and walking very carefully, so they don’t trip over the plants. There are experts who know about plants and birds, and novices who know nothing but are willing to learn. There are people buying and people like me, just looking. And everywhere are people shouting, waving their arms about, shrugging their shoulders very theatrically, and pulling faces in that expressive way the French have, so I like to think customers are haggling with proprietors in a bid to talk the price down and get a better deal.
Anyway, if you’re planning a holiday in Paris, and you’ve never been to the Flower Market, do go, because it will make you happy - it makes me happy just thinking about it. And when you’ve finished looking round it’s only a short walk to the Left Bank, and the Île Saint-Louis. Iconic book shop Shakespeare and Company is just down the road, and there are masses of cafes in the area where you can sit outside and watch the world go by as you eat your lunch.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at http://athomewithbooks.net/ where you can see photos from other participants all over the world.