Paris: Le Haut Marais

Art Nouveau Paris Metro sign, rainy pavement, stone building in background

Le Haut Marais, also known as the upper Marais, comprises the northern portion of the 3rd arrondissement. It makes a lovely home base in Paris. The area feels more like a neighborhood than the better known, more crowded and touristy section of the Marais in the 4th arrondissement. Le Haut Marias is filled with historic architecture, museums, restaurants (many of them vegan), cafés, boutiques, and hotels. Last November, we enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Jacques de Molay on rue de Archives. Recently renovated, it offers modern design and...

A Day in Madrid: El Rastro and La Latina neighborhood

archway steps street hill stone buildings

European open-air flea markets hold a special allure. They offer the tantalizing promise of discovery among objects once held dear and abandoned as families dissolved, tastes changed, or new technologies emerged. They illuminate the old ways and values of a culture; which, being from a young and often rootless country, we Americans often romanticize. I happened upon my first open-air flea market, El Rastro, years ago during my first trip to Madrid. The largest flea market in Spain and perhaps in all of Europe is held every Sunday and...

A Day Trip to Arles

cobblestone street pastel houses and shutters Arles

As the train pulled into the station at Arles on a mild November morning, I found myself entirely unprepared. I’d set off for a day trip to Arles from Montpellier on a whim, intending to go where the wind blew me, finding joy in discovering things for myself, a true flâneur. Usually, I do more planning, but it had been an extremely difficult few months, and I was exhausted. I knew Van Gogh had lived in Arles for a time, had painted prolifically, cut off his ear, and was...

The Sunday coin and stamp market in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor, Madrid coin and stamp market

On Sunday mornings a coin and stamp market overtakes the perimeter of Plaza Mayor in Madrid, El mercadillo numismático de la Plaza Mayor de Madrid. The first time I happened upon it I was on my way to El Rastro, the enormous flea market held in La Latina, the neighborhood south of the plaza. Tables overflowing with coins and stamps lined the colonnaded porticoes surrounding the plaza. The collectors were out in full force, most of them men in their fifties through eighties, although the crowd was peppered with...

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