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.