Category Archives: flea market

More Madrid

Life Chez Mai continues to be a whirlwind. We said goodbye to Claire and to Madrid on Sunday afternoon, flew to Paris, and then got on a plane to Houston Monday morning! I think I have adjusted to the time zone but am still catching up on household chores and doctors appointments. We are here for three weeks, when we jet back to Paris with mother and niece in tow. I am looking forward to showing Paris to my fifteen year old niece on her first trip requiring a passport! But I get ahead of myself. Let’s finish Madrid, shall we?

We did lots of walking around and I loved how different it felt from Paris. The colors, the architecture, the plazas- it all seemed much more casual than the elegance of Paris.









Apparently “yarn bombing” is a thing. This light pole was whimsical, but check out these images from all over the world. So happy!


We went to another covered market full of tapas and drink vendors. I loved the lights made to look like chef’s hats!

Our hotel lobby was so pretty. I couldn’t get enough of the flower arrangements.


Mark and Claire were very enthusiastic about the Prado Museum, which is indeed a treasure.


and so are these two nuts

We had such amazing food in Madrid! The first night’s paella was perhaps the best I have ever had. The next night we found a simple but delicious Indian restaurant. Our final night was a lively restaurant/bar that served us divine tapas. I loved that there was such a variety of food offerings- meat, seafood, veggies, soups- all so tasty.

tapas restaurant

tapas restaurant

Madrid also had lots of pastry shops and, unlike Paris, they all offered coffee and seating space so that you could pop in for a sweet snack at any time of the day. We did not sample any pastries, but there were plenty from which to choose.


Sunday morning Claire and I went to a flea market and then walked back to the hotel. Unlike the Paris flea market, there were no old treasures to paw through. It was kind of like Wal-Mart in different stalls. But nicer, of course.



fun tiles






biggest damn peppers I have ever seen!

biggest damn peppers I have ever seen!




he was made of CD's!

he was made of CD’s!

Maybe I will be lucky enough to go back in the spring, when the plazas and sidewalks and parks are full of people and leafy trees. I bet the sangria tastes even better when it’s warm outside!

I hope you all are staying warm, wherever you are.

Thanks for stopping by, and y’all come back, ya hear?


Filed under flea market, flowers, food markets, Spain, travel

Girl Time In Paris

When I came back to Paris this time I was lucky enough to be joined first by one daughter, and then the other, and THEN three of her friends from Texas. Do I even need to tell you how wonderful it was having 4/5 of my family here? Pret-ty darn fabulous. We missed our son/brother, bien sûr, but sent him pics until he begged us to stop.

My two daughters were here together for a few days. We did some shopping and some dining, and enjoyed Paris at Christmas time.


Then Martha’s three friends/roommates arrived, and the apartment quickly overflowed with girls and boots and good smells and laughter. I was one very content mama, I can tell you.

The girls made the most of their six-day stay, and were admired by many a man about town. They may not have noticed, but I was behind them, picking up the rear, and I can assure you that they never went unnoticed. But I guess they are used to that. Ah, youth.

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde

I can't remember where this one was taken.

I can’t remember where this one was taken.

on the one sunny day....

on the one sunny day….




That same sunny day they also had a pricey drink at the top of the Pompidou, followed by gelato at Amorino.


Martha and I shared the tour guide umbrella. One day I took them to Saint-Germain because, you know, j’adore.

bus stop beauties

bus stop beauties

We went to Luxembourg Gardens, which was pretty empty on a cold winter’s day.



We also visited Au Bon Marche, Cire Trudon, Coton Deux (we love their pajamas), Hermes, Rue de Buci, and finished at Cafe de Flore for hot chocolate and wine (for moi).

Another day we went to the fun and feisty Marche d’Aligre, where the girls got A LOT of appreciation from the spirited vendors.


We had fun looking at all the produce and enjoying many juicy citrus samples. The small flea market just behind the outdoor market revealed treasures to be explored. One friend bargained hard and bought this framed pencil sketch for her mom. I think she ended up getting it for 1/2 of the first price he quoted her. The girl’s got skills.


From the flea market we entered the old covered market, which was still festive with Christmas decorations and lights.





I loved having these girls in Paris with us. They were perfect guests. They were super enthusiastic about everything, even through jet lag and winter grey. They were all adventurous eaters, which automatically earned my badge of approval. No one needed lots of primping time, so they were able to get out of the apartment early each morning, making their tour guide very happy. They helped in the kitchen and cleaned up after themselves, and they even let Mark and me hang out on the couches with them. And did I mention that they loved to eat??? Gold stars all around!

It sure has been nice living in a city that people want to visit. Mark and I have had such fun entertaining guests during our time here. It’s hard not to have a good time in Paris. We miss our family, and we miss our friends, but sometimes they meet us in Paris, which is always a good idea.

Merci, girls, for making Paris just a little more sparkly for a week.

Now get to work. And Hook ‘Em Horns!


Filed under Cire Trudon, Eiffel Tower, family, flea market, flowers, food markets, gardens, Luxembourg Gardens, Montmartre, Paris, Paris in winter, Sacre-Coeur, Uncategorized

Market Day!

Sorry for flooding your inbox today, but I just returned from the market with a cart full of produce so beautiful I had to share.


Does that not make you want to eat your veggies? I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction knowing that all of this good stuff was in or on the ground not far from me just a few days ago. Ok- except the lemons.

It’s time to say goodbye to the stone fruits, which is always sad, but here come the apples! Hip hip! My five green apples didn’t make the group photo, but they will soon be diving into a bowl with sugar and spices for a pie. What better way to welcome my mom chez nous?

So yes, I had a pound of potatoes, five apples, and a melon in this mix, so can I just tell you how heavy my rolling cart was?  I heaved it over the metro turnstile and then carried it up and down the metro steps like a boss. Just sayin.

The flowers are dahlias, which I adore almost as much as apple pie. They are in plastic containers getting a long drink of very hot water, which is said to prolong their life in the vase. So there you go- don’t say you never learn anything on this blog.

The little tablecloth is a new find at the flea market. Isn’t it sweet? The embroidery is repeated on each corner and in the middle.


Thank goodness the tomatoes are still at the market. I haven’t gotten my fill of them yet. I think these will be roasted for a tart. Thanks, Smitten Kitchen!

What’s for dinner at your house?


Filed under cooking, flea market, flowers, food markets, Paris

Au Marché d’ Aligre

The markets in Paris have been overflowing with such gorgeous fruits and vegetables. I have fallen completely under their spell, rendering me incapable of thinking about anything but making the most of this glorious abundance. Yesterday I traveled 10 metro stops and a half a world away to the 12th arrondissement, home of Marché d’ Aligre. A lively and bustling outdoor market, Marché d’ Aligre is open every morning but Monday and percolates with voices, color, and the scent of dirt fresh produce. I had not brought my rolling cart, so my purchases were limited to what I could carry in my woven tote bag- probably a good thing! I wandered up and down the street many times, enjoying the scene and trying to decide what to buy. The prices were significantly lower than those at my President Wilson Market, which didn’t surprise me as Wilson is known to be one of the most expensive in the city. Another difference was that the vendors were hawking their wares with spirited gusto not usually heard in the 16th, and offering lots and lots of samples, which is always nice.

This was my view  upon exiting the Gare de Lyon metro station.

This was my view upon exiting the Gare de Lyon metro station.

on the short walk to the market

on the short walk to the market







Really? Who could resist this?




Just behind the produce market is a flea market. I browsed bins of old table glasses and silverware, tables of paintings and other decoratives, and jewelry. There also was a lot of second-hand clothing and shoes.



The real bonus of the Marché, though, is the historic covered market that sits right next to it. Marché Beauvau is one of the few remaining covered markets in Paris. When I entered it, it felt like a quiet, cool oasis. Inside are very nice shops selling pastries, pasta, flowers, cheese, meat, and gleaming fish that had absolutely no smell.





By the time I had seen everything and decided it was really time to go home, the vendors in the produce market were ready to go home, too, and were slashing prices. I got a bag full of peaches for one euro! Merci!

I had to pop in this precious shop, which was just steps from the market. It was tiny but chock full of grains, and different kind of flours and rice and beans. In the back room were bins of grains for birds. I bought a small bag of almonds, just because the man inside had been so nice to me.


The flower shops always make me happy.


So are you hungry yet? Tomorrow I will share with you what I made with all my market bounty.

On my return ride on the metro I admired these shoes on the young woman sitting across from me.


Just as I took the photo, an older woman (wearing much less fashionable shoes) got on the metro and wanted to sit next to this woman. The younger woman was holding a very large leather bag across her lap, and the bag extended quite a bit into the empty seat next to her. The older woman nudged her to indicate she wanted to sit there, and the younger woman moved over just the tiniest bit. The woman sat down (sliding in around the bag) and then began to tell the woman that she ought to have moved her bag. The well-shod woman disagreed with whatever she had said, and the two of them exchanged quiet insults/retorts/facial expressions all the way to the next stop, where the younger woman got up to exit the train. They continued their debate while she waited for the door to open, the older woman saying, “oui, ma coquette, c’est comme ça” as the young thing shook her head in disbelief. I was amused watching them, as I always am when I witness the French having confrontations with strangers. People on street corners yell at drivers, and drivers yell out their windows at other drivers and pedestrians. We tend to think of the French as being reserved, but they certainly let it all hang out when they don’t approve of what someone else is doing! It’s a constant source of amusement for me, even if I don’t understand much of what is being said. Being ridiculously non-confrontational myself, I admire their spirit and fortitude.  And their shoes, of course.

Go forth and find some fresh seasonal produce today! Just don’t piss off any old women while you’re doing it.



Filed under flea market, flowers, food markets, grocery shopping, Paris

Isle Sur La Sorgue and Gordes

On Sunday we went to the pretty little town of Isle Sur La Sorgue, which  sits in a split of the crystal clear Sorgue river.  Sweet pedestrian bridges cross the river and vendors line up on the banks on busy market days.  Each Sunday is a huge antiques market, and I was so hoping to find a few pieces, but left empty-handed.  The search continues.






We bought sandwiches from a boulangerie and ate them along this shady river bank.


Next we made the short drive to Gordes, which is an amazing little village perched on a cliff.










Before leaving Gordes, we sat at a table on the square with this fountain and toasted Provence.

Cheers to all of you and thanks for following our Provençal adventure!


Filed under flea market, Provence, travel, Uncategorized

Bonjour Paris!

Mark and I left a gorgeous, sunny day in Houston Friday and arrived to a grey, cold day in Paris Saturday. But there’s nothing unusual about that, is there? We weren’t able to sit together on our flight, and while we waited for our luggage I overheard the guy I sat next to telling someone about how much the lady next to him (moi) slept. He was amazed and more than a little envious. Yep, I’m telling you, three Simply Sleep + one airplane bottle of red wine=Happy Landing cocktail. Works every time.

After a three-hour power nap at our apartment, we hit the streets of Saint-Germain.

Gorgeous hat shop

Gorgeous hat shop

flower shop

flower shop

street shot

street shot


Mark standing by happy red door of nice hotel

Mark standing by happy red door of nice hotel

After a nice walk we were ready to put our feet up and enjoy some cafe wine. We scored a perfect corner table with this prime view of the street.IMG_2911

Lots of folks were out enjoying the cold Saturday.


No, I did not intentionally pick out the scaffolding and plastic- I swear it’s everywhere.

This morning I went to my favorite flea market, Porte de Vanves, and poked around in all the stuff. It was sunny but a tad chilly 34 degrees.






Afterwards I went home and picked up Mark, and we went to explore Hotel des Invalides.


Although very close to our apartment, we had never before wandered through this gorgeous complex, which used to house disabled veterans. One famous Frenchman is still housed there- Napoleon’s tomb is located in the beautiful Eglise du Dome. His body is in one of six nested coffins within this sarcophagus of red quartzite.



If he were able to see out the top, this would be his view.


seal in the floor upon entering the dome

seal in the floor upon entering the dome

The Hotel des Invalides also contains the wonderful Musee de l’Armee, which includes many of Napoleon’s uniforms, as well as some of his campaign furniture.


Through the entrance, a peek of the Grand Palais and my favorite bridge, Pont Alexandre.


From here we walked to the charming Rue Cler for lunch at a busy cafe.

Notice the Poilane bread on top of the shelf!

Notice the Poilane bread on top of the shelf!


Needing to walk off our lunch, we ambled over to the Montparnasse Tower, the tallest building in Paris.


That doesn’t look like Paris, does it? Once there, we decided to save the view from the top for a less hazy day (or night), so you will just have to wait for those pics!


And that is how I have spent my time since landing here on Saturday morning. Thanks for stopping by!


Filed under flea market, Paris, Paris outings, Uncategorized

Winding Down Paris

Yesterday was the strangest weather day I remember having here.  In fact, it was down right manic-depressive.  Bright sun one minute, pouring rain the next.  Repeat.  Weird.

We had a pre-graduation ceremony lunch here for Mlle Cordon-Bleu.

Then we walked down the street to a very swanky building  to watch the newest chefs receive their toques and diplomas.  The room was a tad warm and the ceremony a tad loooong, and I was glad I hadn’t gotten off of a plane from the US that morning, as most of our companions had done.  Yawn.

Our patience was rewarded with champagne in rooms that looked out at this.

The sun is out this morning and the air is crisp.  I got up early and made my final trip to the flea market until I return in September.

I love this market, which is called Porte de Vanves, because it is an easy metro ride from my apartment, and is not so large that it can’t be done in an hour.  There is a little of everything here.  Dishes, glasses, silver, crystal, paintings, jewelry, clothes, magazines, linens….you get the idea.  I love poking through it all at a leisurely pace.  Mark would rather drink battery acid.

I rarely buy much, but I have taken a shine to these old bottles.  I know some used to hold milk, and some might be canning  jars.  I love the color and the shape and the “La Lorraine” and the thistle on the top.

Sometimes I put flowers in them, and yesterday I used them for table decorations for Mlle’s lunch.

Now that I have whipped you all into a frenzy with my Martha Stewart channeling, I must go clean up the remnants of yesterday’s festivities and think about packing for my trip to Tuscany on Monday.  I return on Thursday, just in time to fly to Houston on Friday.  I will be taking Wonderchien home with me, and he is pretty pumped to be returning to Texas.  He’ll miss the random pieces of baguette on the sidewalks, but that ‘s about it.

If I am not able to post Mais Oui Tuscany from Italy, I will do it from Houston.  Because that’s just the kind of girl I am.



Filed under flea market, shopping, Uncategorized