It was my first Sunday – and my third day – in Paris. The skies were threatening rain and for most of the morning Kristi and I used it as an excuse to acquiesce to jetlag and laze around the apartment. We were also tired from an epic walk around the 7th arrondisement the day before.
“Let’s go to the bird market,” she stated, knowing it would be inspiration for both of us to get out of the house.
Le Marché aux Oiseaux (the “Bird Market”) spends most of the week as Le Marché aux Fleurs, showcasing temperate and tropical flowers and plants from around the world in two old wrought-iron and glass greenhouses on the edge of the Seine. On Sunday, merchants come to sell pet birds. I had never heard of this attraction and was eager to see what types of birds they had for sale [Editors note: as a child, one of the first thing Adam would do on family trips was open up the phonebook in the hotel room to the “Pet Store” section].
We jumped on the metro and made our way to L’Île de la Cité, the same island in the Seine where Notre-Dame is located. After being on our subterranean commute for 25 minutes, we gave a sigh of relief as we walked out of the metro entrance: no rain.
As we approached the Place Louis Lépine and I was originally underwhelmed. I didn’t see any birds, just a lot of cages, toys, and seed. But Kristi pointed out that the inside of each building was lined with small cages. Wedging myself into the non-ADA-certified aisle, I scoured scores of cubicles filled with birds, mostly varietals of canaries, Australian finches, and a few parrots and European natives. No matter their origin, each bird “popped” against the white background of the back of the cage, especially the finches, which look like they were drafted by artists at Pixar.
For about an hour, we meandered through the handful of stalls, brimming with everything you’d need to take a bird home today, including about fifty types of bulk seed, each especially made for a specific family of birds. And surprisingly, prices weren’t bad considering this market catered to a luxury hobby in the heart of one of the most expensive cities in the world.
But this market wasn’t just for the birds: rats, a miniature rabbit petting table, goldfish, hamsters, and a chinchilla added to the menagerie. And it all wasn’t alive, a vintage boars head was propped up next to van in the middle of the street where the less established vendors set up their cages.
If it weren’t for our anticipated travel schedule, Kristi and I would have walked home with a few birds and miniature rabbit or two. And perhaps a boars head.