The Paris Flea Market (Marche aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt) is said to be the largest flea market in Europe. Located just beyond the Boulevard Peripherique (the border encircling central Paris), it is open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. We were able to go on a Saturday, the day before flying home. If I ever go again, I want to be able to visit the market over all three days, since it is so large and impossible to fully see in one day, not to mention exhausting. It's not just walking around for hours and hours that wears you out, but concentrating on the overwhelming amount of beautiful things to look at!
We took the Metro from our hotel to the Porte De Clignacourt stop early that morning. The market opens at 9am and I wanted to get there early so that we would have enough time to shop. We followed these directions from Oh Happy Day and they were extremely helpful. If you ever have a chance to go to this market, I highly recommend printing out a copy of these directions and bringing them with you.
The first thing you see upon arriving are a bunch of stalls on the street. Having been to many flea markets here in the U.S., it is easy to assume that this is the flea market, since it has a very temporary feel, full of tents that are easy to set up in the morning and take down at night. But that's not the case at all. These first stalls that you encounter are actually smaller street markets. They sell clothes, street food, and cheap knickknacks, not the antiques for which this market is so famous. But if you keep going past these stalls, you'll encounter a series of buildings with permanent stores—this is the Paris Flea Market.
What we know as the Paris Flea Market is actually made up of a dozen individual markets, each in their own buildings. Within each of these markets, many of which can be quite large, are lots of little passageways filled with stores. These stores sell just about every kind of antique you can possibly imagine—from gilded pieces fit for the Palace of Versailles to rustic wooden furniture, from giant lights used on old movie sets to vintage bags and dresses from Chanel and Louis Vuitton, from industrial metal pieces to exquisite sets of china and silverware, and much, much, more. It is also extremely high end. Be prepared to spend a lot of money here!
One of the most impressive things, aside from the selection of items available, is the way these items are arranged. A lot of the store owners and dealers seem to be designers, and they have really perfected the art of display. It was such a pleasure to browse the stores because I found myself admiring so many of the items and then feeling so inspired by how they were arranged. I have never seen anything quite like it.
Of course there are shops that are not quite as fancy and a bit more cluttered, reminding me of thrift stores here at home. These kinds of stores offered some items that were more in our budget, and we spent lots of time poking around hunting for treasures. At the start of our day, I had big plans to buy a lot of things and ship them home. But by the end of the day I was tired and probably suffering from sticker shock, so we ended up with just a few purchases—some little spoons (I became obsessed with the little spoons that accompanied my cafe au lait at all of the European cafes we visited), a vintage grain sack that we're going to use as a giant wallhanging in my mom's kitchen, and a metal plaque (written in French, of course). I'll be sure to take some photos soon and share them with you.
In the meantime, here is just a sample of the design-goodness at the Paris Flea Market. We don't have as many images as I had hoped to share because a lot of the dealers are sensitive about photographs, and many of the shops are dark, but this is a nice little round up. Hope you enjoy!
In my next post, I'll share photos of one store in particular that was so good, it deserves a post all to itself.
Instagram images by The Pink Chalkboard