Monday, July 24, 2023

Paris in July: The Flower Market

Last week I posted about reading Mrs Harris goes to Paris by Paul Gallico. I originally listened to this on audio, but when I came across this passage I knew that I wanted to share it, so I then borrowed the book.

I loved the way that Mrs Harris accidentally"stumbled upon a certain paradise" as it kind of feels as though we did the same thing.  We were staying on Ile St Louis so each day we had to pick which way we were heading for the day. One day we were visiting Sainte Chappelle so we walked past Notre Dame and were wandering through the streets when we too stumbled across the Flower Market. Now, bear in mind we were visiting in early January so a lot of the stalls were closed, but it was still a lovely place!

Free to wander where she would during the day in Paris except for her fittings, Mrs Harris never quite knew where her footsteps would lead her. It was not the glittering shopping sections of the Champs Eleysses, the Faubourg St Honore, and the Place Vendome that interested her, for there were equally shimmering and expensive shopping sections in London which she never visited. But she loved people and odd quartiers, the beautiful parks, the river, and the manner in which life was lived in the poorer section by the inhabitants of the city.

She thus explored the Left Bank and the Right and eventually through accident stumbled upon a certain paradise in the Middle, the Flower Market located by the Quai de la Corse on the Ile de la Cite.

Often back home Mrs Harris had peered longingly into the windows of flower shops, at the display of hot-house blooms, orchids, roses, gardenias, etc., on her way to and from her labours, but never in her life had she found herself in the midst of such an intoxicating profusion of blossoms of every kind, colour, and shape, ranged upon the footpaths and filling stalls and stands of the Flower Market withiin sight of the twin towers of Notre-Dame.

Here were streets that were nothing but a mass of azaleas in pots, plants in pink, white, red, purple mingling with huge bunches of cream, crimson, and yellow carnations. There seemed to be acres of boxes of pansies smiling up into the sun, blue irises, red roses, and huge fronds of gladioli forced into early bud in hot-houses.

There were many plants and flowers Mrs Harris did not even know the name of, small rubbery-looking pink blooms, or flowers with yellow centres and deep blue petals, every conceivable kind of daisy and marguerite, bushy-headed peonies and, of course, row upon row of Mrs Harris's own very dearest potted geraniums.


But not only were her visual senses enthralled and overwhelmed by the masses of shapes and colours, but on the soft breeze that blew from the Seine came as well the intoxication of scent to transport the true lover of flowers into his or her particular heaven, and such a one was Mrs Harris. All the beauty that she had ever really known in her life until she saw the Dior dress had been flowers. Now, her nostrils were filled with the scent of lilies and tuberoses. From every quarter came beautiful scents, and through this profusion of colour and scent Mrs Harris wandered as if in a dream.

And then we headed on to our destination! Sainte Chappelle was one of my favourite things that we did in Paris. What a place.

I am sharing this quote and memory as part of Paris in July, hosted by Emma at Words and Peace.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this beautiful memory! France does have all kinds of amazing markets