Les Puces

No trip is complete without bribing / forcing the husband to trawl around a market or two. And this is no exception as I get very over excited by the idea of a proper French flea market (blame Escape to the Chateau!)

The most famous flea market in Paris is the one at Porte de Clignancourt, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas).

It covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world, receiving between 120,000 to 180,000 visitors each weekend.

Battle your way through the initial rows of cheap plastic tourist tat and mass produced junk that circle the old flea market to the heart of the original old market and you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of the old, retro, unique and down right odd.

Mountains of glittering beads tempt me like a magpie while terrifying old dolls stare blankly from every stall and box.

Les Puces is a mix of street and floor stalls, old established antiques shops, pop ups and undercover markets.

There are actually around 15 different markets that collectively make up Les Puces. Some specialise in expensive antiques, others have old fabrics and buttons.

One market is a colourful explosion of street art and knock off clothing!

While the covered markets and actual shops are interesting, my favourite part is the actual street markets where goods are piled up on the floor and on walls.

As well as the fascinating things for sale, the walls themselves provide an outdoor gallery to enjoy.

A visit to Les Puces is a highlight for rummage fiends and knick knack lovers. Just keep a close eye on wallets, purses and other valuables as it is a pick pocket haven.

Eiffel Tower

Finally the day has arrived – on the hubby’s birthday – that we’re heading up the grand ole dame herself – the Eiffel Tower!

We’re going right to the top with the vertigo inducing lift! We booked online prior to travelling and, as it was a French holiday, thank goodness we did!

We skipped the huge queue outside the tower itself only to be stuck in the queue for the lift for around 1.5 hours! But still much quicker than chancing it on the day.

The digging started on the 28th January 1887. On the 31st March 1889, the Tower had been finished in record time – 2 years, 2 months and 5 days !!

Between 150 and 300 workers worked on the construction site, 2,500,000 rivets were used along with 7,300 tonnes of iron and 60 tonnes of paint!

The end result is the iconic tower that is recognisable the world over and offers stunning views over Paris to the distant horizons.

The tower casts a long shadow over the River Seine and is slightly dizzying!

The tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, which was to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution.

Today it welcomes almost 7 million visitors a year making it the most visited monument that you have to pay for in the world.

Sex sells on the seedy side

Heading to the sleazier side of gay Paris tonight with a visit to the iconic Moulin Rouge.

Its red windmill was probably made familiar to those of us of a certain age thanks to Baz Lurman’s film of the same name.

However it has been known as the world’s most famous cabaret for many years prior to that.

The original establishment, which burned down in 1915, was co-founded in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller.

The Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance.

Originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site it evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe.

You can still pay to watch a show at the Moulin Rouge but it isn’t cheap! So we contented ourselves with checking out the windmill and then taking a look of some of the other dubious ‘delights’ that Boulevard de Clichy had to offer.

This is definitely the seedier side of Paris with a wealth of sex shops and strip clubs.

Now the red light district of the city, Boulevard de Clichy used to be home to a wealth of renowned artists such as Picasso and Degas.

Now however it is home to art of a rather different type!