This last trip to Paris was the first time that I had ever visited the world famous Paris Flea Market, Marche aux Puces de Saint-Oven. I have been to the Porte de Vanves Flea Market four times before, but had never made the St. Ouen a priority. From what I had read it sounded like this flea market was more expensive and possibly a bit stuffy. But now I regret holding onto that information, that is not what I found at all. It was lovely. And I also found many great deals.
I went on a Monday morning. It is open Saturday-Monday. I took the metro line 4 to the Porte de Clingnancourt station. When I exited I had about a 10 minute walk to the flea market. I followed the signs and used my phone as guide. It wasn’t the most scenic neighborhood to walk through and there were a lot of vendors with random stuff on the way to the flea market. But it was worth it. If you have seen Lupin (I recommend) on Netflix, his longtime friend owns a shop in this flea market. I can see where they found the charm to include the setting in the series.
When I arrived at the market I was pleasantly surprised. This market has a permanent set up of stalls that just like little shops. This is much different than the Porte de Vanves market, where it is just temporary tables with goods set up on the street. The benefit of permanent stalls is that some were beautifully curated, it was a real treat to walk through the spaces and get inspiration. There was a large variety of styles and prices. Some were filled with fancy furnishings that looked like they could belong in a museum, and some were more casual and some were not curated at all and there were just piles of treasures to sift through. I appreciated all of the above.
As for the prices. Yes, there were some expensive price tags, and I respected that. Some of those pieces history filled pieces were so unique and so beautiful it must have taken a lot of time and money for the vendor to find. They should get paid a fair amount. But I also found a lot of things that were in my price range, which is more the bargain range versus museum range. I am not sure if going on a Monday, the last day of the week, that it helped that people were more open to a discount. But I was thrilled. I found several beautiful paintings. One in which I thought was my least favorite of all the paintings I purchased, but it found its way onto my mantel at home and has never left.
I loved this set of apothecary jars that I found. The vendor had them set out in front of his booth offering a discount if you bought multiple. I picked out 4 of them and paid him for them. He let me leave them in his booth while I shopped, this is a pretty standard thing I have found most vendors will do to make shopping easier. But make sure you make note of where your purchases are waiting for you, this market is big with tiny squiggly streets that all look very similar. When I circled back around he offered me the complete set at a further discount. I am so glad I took him up on it. I was able to get them home by packing them in hard shell suitcases wrapped in linen, some I checked and some I carried on and they all made it perfectly.
I found linens and I found some reasonable prices on a couple sheets. But I think the prices and selection for these is a bit better in Porte de Vanves, I definitely understand it can vary from day to day at both places, but that was my experience. However the area that this market really shined with linen is the unique toiles. There was one linen shop that had piles, and piles of remnant antique fabrics. I found so many unique pieces. The owner of this shop was not offering very discounted prices, but it was worth it for me to make a pile and she offered me a price for it all. I suppose I should tell you that I am not an aggressive bargainer. It’s just not me. I know first hand the amount of work that goes into the job of selling antiques, so if the price seems fair and works for my business then I usually just pay it. There are times when it feels right to offer a better a price, and I will take advantage of that, and really the worst thing that can happen is they say no. Also I found that if its something I am waffling on, if I set it down and start to walk away, the vendor might offer a better price. I tell you all this so you know what kind of shopper you are receiving advice from, but you do what is best for you in the bargaining department, there is no shame in any of it.
Because the market was more of permeant set up, there were some vendors who took credit cards which was a nice surprise. However cash is king if you want a deal and some vendors only took cash. I didn’t have trouble locating a nearby ATM when I needed it, although it was a bit of a quick walk off the flea market property.
Also this market felt similar to Porte de Vanves in the amount of English that was spoken. Most people spoke enough English to carry on a bit of conversation, however I always try my very basic French first. I feel like I get a warmer response when I do this, and we were in France after all. Some of the vendors didn’t speak any English, but we wiggled our way through our transactions with very broken French and hand gestures and it worked out. I had very kind and positive interactions with all vendors.
I finished up seeing all I could see after about 3-4 hours. From what I understand there is a lot more, it would take days and multiple visits to see every stall. And there were many stalls closed, I am not sure if that is because Monday is a less busy day, or what the reason was, whatever the case there was PLENTY. I don’t regret not staying longer, that was good, successful trip for and I was totally loaded down by the end. There was no way that I could walk to the metro and take the train. I took an Uber back the airbnb and it was perfect. This will be my routine going forward, as much as I enjoy the metro, I don’t need to do it carry 5 bags of a mix of fragile antiques and heavy linens. Non merci.
I wrote about the Porte de Vanves Market here in case you need more Paris Flea Market information.
The magical French Larkspur tour of Provence included a lot of shopping. Antique shopping. Which it is no secret that I think this is one of the very best things in the world. And this is the part of the world to do it in. Tracey has gone to great lengths to create a tour in which we stopped by some of the most charming brocantes and flea markets. In the hilltop towns we found stunning little shops like this one owned by Corrine Massat:
In this picture the shop owner held open the sheets for me to inspect. I brought a couple sheets home. The texture, condition, and quality of the linen sheets that I purchased in this shop was exceptional. I still have a bit of fabric left from these pieces and its nice to know they are there to play a role in future projects.
One day we wandered through the town of Menerbes. I really enjoyed this spot, there were several shops that were owned and run by creatives. One was a distributor of Annie Sloan paint and furniture artist, Atelier de Couleurs. Taking a peek at her studio was definitely worth the stop.
We also popped into a store, Petits Points de Provence, that was filled with handmade sewn items and in the corner was a sewing machine. I spoke to the owner and explained that I too sewed items for work. She was a lovely vibrant person. She proudly gave me a little tour of her shop. She explained her favorite kind of work to do is cross stitch.
She had some incredible pieces, one caught my eye of teacups, as I ooooed and awed at it she explained that it was done by her mother who had Parkinson’s disease, and the action of handstiching calmed her.
I really wanted to bring a treasure of from her shop home and to support the hard work that she does, so I purchased this sweet cross stitch of a little girl. I may frame it or turn it into a coin purse. But right now its nice to just come upon it occasionally in my stash and to be reminded of the visit.
We also spent some time in Loumarin, that is filled with all sorts of charming shops. One of the highlights was a shop, La Boutique de L’Antiquaire, owned by a very talented woman named, Nathalie. Her shop is tucked into a storefront off a small cobblestone street and is in a very old building. I will let the pictures of it do the talking.
She too is a seamstress and had her sewing machine in the back corner. Her thing is my thing, vintage linen. She does inspiring work with the fabrics. It was as if I caught a glimpse of the tres chic French version of who I want to be. To have a shop like that and to be able to create in that space would be my ultimate dream. It was a pleasure just to get a taste of it and to bring home some treasures from it.
Tracey knowing that I was on the hunt for textiles brought us to La Boutique de Francine in L’Isle-our-la-Sorgue. We actually stopped in twice on one day because the visit was interrupted by a lunch reservation. As you can see this place need dedicated time.
Then the following day we had two flea markets scheduled that got rained out, so we ended up shopping there again. It would take several more than 3 visits to unearth all the special fabrics in this place. I was so happy with each piece I got and I bought a lot. The shop owner Laurence (which is such a beautiful name, don’t you think?) was such a pleasure to shop from, she kept throwing in little pieces of fabrics I picked as “presents” in my haul. It has brought me a lot of joy working with these fabrics. I hope one day to return.
We made it to one flea market, and I am so glad we did. We went to the flea market in Villeneuve-les-Avignon.
I love my finds from this market. I got some beautiful linens, the highlights being some remnants of old quilts. I used some red and pink quilt fabrics for Holiday pillows. I have been saving some purple colored quilts for a winter/spring pillows, these will be for sale at this weekend’s sale.
I also found the French Soldier fabric here that I used for tiny stockings, the fabric was in the form of two small pillows, I am pleased that they ended up as stockings after being in my care.
There was a lot of art at this market, I found several paintings, and I have sold some but I haven’t been able to part with a couple.
Here are a couple of the paintings I purchased and I thought I needed to photograph them in our stunning Air B and B.
There was a large selection of dishes to be admired
Even though I was nervous about getting dishes home, I couldn’t resist this set of red and white vintage plates:
Lastly you should know if you travel with Tracey and Steve you will have first class service. Steve spends the entire time circling the market taking your purchases back to the van. Lugging around my purchases is a sacrifice I am surely willing to take for some good finds, but to NOT have to do it is nothing short of incredible. It is an immensely better flea market experience. I didn’t know flea market shopping could get better, because I love it so much, but it does with Steve managing your bags.
During the trip we visited outdoor markets here and there. These greeted us with fresh foods, beautiful flowers, sometimes clothing, sometimes fabric, sometimes vintage fabric and antiques. There was always something to be discovered.
I treasure the sweet memories that it has gifted me with. Also to be able to work with the fabric that is coupled with memories of this magical place has added special element to my creativity, this is hard to out into words. I indeed feel incredibly grateful for this enriching experience.