Thursday, March 25, 2010

Market day

There's an open-air market near where I live that operates twice a week. This morning I walked through it on the way to school, just for a change.

Open-air markets still exist in Paris. In fact, they are carefully regulated and supervised. There are many different spots in Paris where they are held. Each spot has a market on certain days of the week. The day before, trucks arrive to set up awnings for the stands. On the market day, merchants arrive at the crack of dawn to set up shop. By the early afternoon, they are cleaning up and packing up, and by evening, they are gone. Then the trucks return and remove the awnings.

The market nearest me has mostly food, plus a few stalls with little things like hats and small articles of clothing. The food is the interesting part, as usual. Open-air markets are for people who have time and money, and I have neither, so I just strolled through this market to see what I could see. Lots of good things to eat, extremely fresh, including fresh fish sitting on ice, plus fruits and veggies, cheeses, baked goods, spices, meats, and so on.

I have to wonder what wealthy elite of the city's residents can actually afford to shop in this market. It isn't so much that the prices are high (although they are). It's just the time that it takes—don't these people have to work for a living? My part of town is famous for its large population of retirees, but these markets exist everywhere in Paris. Maybe the shoppers are the non-working half of couples. I don't know.

I couldn't smell much because I still have a cold (or maybe I'm getting one, or recovering from one—I can never tell these days). It probably smelled good. It looked good. The non-food stuff wasn't very impressive, though. And I notice that the entire space set aside for the market isn't occupied; there's still about a fourth of it that's empty. Maybe there's just too much space, since it has been that way for years.

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