Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marché aux fleurs et aux oiseaux : Oldest flower and bird market of Paris

Paris, a cosmopolitan city, a city of bricks, of cement and of technology, of lights, but its heart fills up each morning with the fragrance and vividness of million flowers and the songs of thousand exotic birds. This is what one can experience right in the center of the city, in the island on the river Seine, the Ile de la Cite, just a stone’s throw from the famed cathedral of Notre Dame and the City Hall, a market dedicated to flowers and birds, the oldest in the city and still very functional. 

Marché aux fleurs et aux oiseaux is a flower market located at the Place Louis Lépine in the 4th arrondissement and it exists since 1809. The market has undergone numerous modification since its early days and the modern market in its present form was inaugurated in 1873. This quaint flower and bird market was renamed Reine Elisabeth II after the visit of the Queen of UK in the year 2014, to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France. 

The market hosts galleries made up of wrought iron pillars which gives it an old world charm and appearance. The flower market is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, Sunday being an exception when it is open till 7pm. Of all the days, Sunday is the most vibrant because of the adjacent bird market.

The flower market has different shops dedicated to flowering plants as well as non-flowering plants. There are seasonal, exotic and ornamental plants, shrubs and orchids. Now let us come to my visit there last weekend. 

The main reason for my visit was that the plastic pot in which the orchid at my apartment was placed had cracked. During my frequent walks around the Ile de la Cite, I had spotted the Maison de L'Orchid in the flower market. 
So without wasting anytime I rushed to flower market. The lady in Maison de L'Orchid was very helpful and explained to me the dos and don'ts with orchids. The first thing that I came to know was that I cannot change the plastic pot immediately since the the orchid was still blooming. The pot can be changed only when the flowers have withered. She suggested me to place it in a ceramic pot and water it once a week. So I bought a white ceramic pot for my orchid.

The different types of orchids were magnificent and were like jewels adorning the heart of the eternal city. I couldn't hold my temptation to buy yet another orchid from this well stocked orchid boutique. After going through the mammoth collection of orchids I decided on a white little orchid that would look and gel well with my other plants in the side table. I chose a white ceramic pot for this second orchid too. I was not ready to make the same mistake that I did with my previous orchid. 

After buying the orchid and necessary stuffs I thought of checking out the other stalls and the adjacent bird market. From one of the stalls I bought a pouch full of dried lavender from the Provence region of France. I like to use natural fresheners for my room as well as for my cupboard and bookshelves rather than the chemical ones.

Apart from flowers, one can also take home the unique varieties of birds that are available at the market every Sunday. The market also offers cages, seeds, bird accessories and other equipment needed to keep the feathered pets happy. The market like most other local ones face and live up to the crisis created by online shopping. As indicated by the latest surveys, the products at local markets are sometimes up to 3% more expensive than that found online. However nothing can replace the fervor and enthusiasm that we can experience while strolling through an unique specialized market and picking up the bouquets or pets after choosing them from among real life exhibits. 

The chirping of the birds from the bird market sounds like the symphony of nature. There were Cocktails, Parakeets, Fringes and many other species all chirping their heart out as slowly dusk falls on Paris. When you are in Paris, make sure to stroll through this colorful and melodious part of heritage of the city. 

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