Monday, March 21, 2011

Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt

While in Paris this past January, looking for things to see and do towards the end of our trip, we stumbled upon mention of the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt. I can’t remember much about why we wound up adding it to our itinerary, perhaps something about being the oldest flea market in Paris or a truly local event. Regardless, we ventured out early one Saturday morning, as suggested, for the most genuine experience.

I had mostly forgotten about this market until yesterday, when I read a short article about hidden gems in Paris which included mention of the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt. This instantly reminded me of my experience and I felt I needed to do something to prevent others from making the same mistake we had made.

First, a little background. Have you ever seen the movie Taken, an action movie set in Paris about human trafficking? Maggie Grace, having just arrived in Paris, her first international trip without her parents, immediately makes a few rookie mistakes and is subsequently kidnapped; a victim of the human trafficking trade. Liam Neeson, her dad, races around Paris doing whatever is necessary to find and save his ‘taken’ daughter before it’s too late and she’s lost forever. The movie is a bit about human trafficking and a bit about the seedy side of Paris. As we prepared for our trip, Taken was the movie that kept popping into my mind.

Upon arriving in Paris and getting ourselves situated, my concerns about becoming a human trafficking victim began to subside. Paris is a lovely city with beautiful people and I felt safe almost the entire time we were there, even whilst walking along empty streets in the middle of the night. The only time I didn’t feel safe, however, was during my visit to the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt.

The visit began innocently enough. It really did look like a typical flea market situation and we ventured forth with no concerns. However, as we walked along the labyrinth of stalls we began to realize that we shouldn’t be there. The event quickly changed from innocent family flea market to something more sinister; people became shadier, families disappeared, music grew louder, and the exits vanished. We’re pretty sure we were followed for a bit, either by a pickpocket or a trafficker, and we saw a few drug deals go down. It was very scary.

Had we not seen Taken or been aware of the human trafficking trade, we may not have survived. But, because we were mentally prepared for the seedy side of Paris and knew enough to identify a bad situation when faced with one, we quickly adopted a heightened sense of self preservation. Thinking about Taken prior to our arrival prevented the formation of the vacation euphoria bubble one is typically ensconced in while visiting such a beautiful place, allowing us to be aware enough of our surroundings to perhaps deter any possible evil doers.  Perhaps Taken saved our lives?

When we eventually escaped, and our fight or flight defences relaxed a bit, we could joke about surviving the experience. But, because it had proved so traumatizing, we quickly purged the event from our memories. That is, until I was reminded of it yesterday, which did cause a bit of a post traumatic stress reaction.

The only explanation for this market appearing on any list of things to do whilst in Paris can be only to lure unsuspecting tourists into a human trafficking trap. If you ever see this market on a list of things to do, or someone is recommending it to you, you should immediately become very dubious of the source. This market is a trap and you're being set up. DO NOT GO!

1 comment:

  1. Yay, the first Travelin' Bunny post!
    That place was scary, we were lucky to come out alive.



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