Fab Flea Markets
Wandering the fabulous marchés aux puces or flea markets of Paris is as much a must in the French capital as standing atop the Eiffel Tower or sailing the Seine. So on a sunny summer day, slip on a pair of sensible Chanel espadrilles, cash up, and explore the city’s serpentine alleys bursting with bargain books, vintage clothes, antique bric-a-brac and Art Deco wares.
In the 18th arrondissement, the grande dame Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is considered by many to be the largest flea market in the world, and boasts a labyrinthine assortment of antique stores and adjoining markets spread across seven hectares. It’s been running since 1885, but recently several sections (mainly those around the main drag rue des Rosiers) have been overtaken by hawkers with knock-off handbags and tourist trinkets; so do amble further in for more worthwhile finds – try the Marché Paul Bert for C.19th furniture, Marché Lecuyer for unrestored objects, and Marché Biron for antique lighting. Alternatively, Porte de Vanves in the 14th is a smaller and friendlier weekender with plenty of curiosities to tempt casual browsers; comb through vintage textiles, antique homewares and Art Deco jewellery aplenty. Beloved local haunt Puces de Montreuil in the 20th has more bargains than its better-known siblings; go for antique glassware, preloved designer threads, vintage crockery and old odds and ends. And bookworms should head to the 15th for the Marché du livre ancien et d'occasion, an open-air market by Parc Georges Brassens, selling faded French and English paperbacks and leather-bound classics for far less than the bouquinistes that line the Seine. Most market vendors are happy to haggle and a few polite French phrases will usually drop the price further. Achats heureux!
Marché St Ouen / ave de la Porte de Clignancourt, 18th / 11am-5pm Mon, 9am-6pm Sat-Sun
Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves / ave Georges Lafenestre & ave Marc Sangnier, 14th / 7am-2pm Sat-Sun / www.pucesdevanves.fr
Marché aux Puces de Montreuil / ave du Professeur André Lemierre, 20th / 7am-7pm Sat-Mon
Marché du livre ancien et d'occasion / 104 rue Brancion, 15th / 9am-6pm Sat-Sun