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Les Puces flea market in Paris is the largest of its kind in the world and is brimming with vintage and antique treasures. Prepare for your trip with our handy tips on tackling this monumental market.
The most famous flea market in Paris is the one at Porte de Clignancourt, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas). It covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world, receiving between 120,000 to 180,000 visitors each weekend.
Every Saturday from 9h - 18h
Every Sunday from 10h to 18h
Every Monday from de 11h to 5h (please note that many stalls close around lunch time)
If you get there early, plan on having a leisurely Café Crème and watching the antiques world start up for the day. If you're a serious shopper, watch out as it becomes very crowded after lunch!!
We strongly recommend going to the Puces on Saturday or Sunday because many dealers aren't open on Monday, or only open by appointment. If you can only shop on Monday, arrive in the morning when you stand a better chance of dealers being open, cleaning up after the weekend.
Important Note: Be careful to hide wallets and purses; as in any city, big crowds are a great place for pickpockets to work - and the Flea Market is no exception. When guests reserve our apartments in Paris we repeatedly advise them to hide their wallets in a fanny pack and to leave their passports in our apartment safes, but every few months we get a phone call from them, telling us they have lost their passports and credit cards. Do be careful.
Take the métro to Porte de Clignancourt on Line 4 and follow the crowds towards the large concrete overpass. If you are looking for antiques, don't waste too much time looking through the clothing, African objects and household goods on streets along the way. The market and neighborhood is very colorful and you will love the diversity of personalities, stall keepers and products for sale! The 18th arrondissement, where the Puces are located, is in a poorer part of Paris and the market gets very crowded. As mentioned above, you want to watch your wallets and you can safely stroll around here during the day.
Rue des Rosiers is the main street which you walk down in order to go into the separate markets. The individual markets tend to run into each other, and even after shopping there for 20 years, I am still not sure where some stop and others begin. But I do have my favorites.
There is a good map at: http://www.tourisme-plainecommune-paris.com/sites/saint-denis-tourisme/files/content/files/guide_du_marche_aux_puces_.pdf. Also a good directory of dealers and information.
Download an iphone app about the Paris Flea markets here.
Along Rue des Rosiers, there are several interesting shops, selling Art Deco furniture, fireplaces, mirrors and 'interesting decorative furniture'. I've bought mirrors and some furniture at the second mirror dealer on the right, Philippe and find his prices reasonable. His sister in law owns the first mirror stand on the right and they too have a nice selection. Much further down on the left, before Serpette, is a shop that sells interesting decorative pieces, paintings, garden pieces etc. Good taste and worth a stop.
Find Marché Vernaison, 99 rue des Rosiers, and the smaller Marché Antica first on your right. Vernaison is a wonderful, winding market where you can find anything from furniture to beads, to missing parts from antique commodes, textiles, paintings, antique toys, etc, etc. It feels enormous and you can get lost wandering down the alleyways. If you’re looking for paintings and smaller objects, this is often the place to go. I've bought country-style furniture here, not the expensive stuff. I’ve also bought beautiful linens here as well as paintings and decorative objects.
Marché Antica, 99 rue des Rosiers, has a few dealers, a good Art Deco stand, several stands selling paintings and porcelain and a larger one that sells Chinese furniture. Taste level is good.
Marché Biron, 85 rue des Rosiers, next on your right. There are two sides to the market and I prefer walking down the left side as you face it, rather than the right. On the left side, you can find hundreds of nice pieces of wood furniture, most in a country style. They are not always the cheapest stalls, but the selection is vast. The right side of Biron has more gilded Louis XV and Louis XVI, Empire-style furniture; it’s not my style - but if you are looking for those kinds of pieces, you are sure to find what you want here.
Marché Cambo, 75 rue des Rosiers, is a market with approximately 20 dealers and many of them eat together outside one of the stalls at lunch, each bringing part of the pot luck meal. Their taste level is good and I enjoy browing here. It’s a little harder to find as it looks like a warehouse, so watch for the sign after Marche Biron.
Starting on the left from the the top of Rue des Rosiers, find Marché Malassis, 142 rue des Rosiers, selling furniture and objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as silver, Asian and archeological pieces. There are beautiful objects here, but I tend to save my energy for Serpette and Biron which are further on.
Marché Dauphine, 140 rue des Rosiers, is next on your left and it is the newest market. It is large and because of that, isn't as easy to classify as many others. Here, you will find everything from rare antiques, to decorative furniture pieces, to books, prints, funky art and vintage clothing, to rugs, to garden pots. I've been up and down it several times, but the favorite area I've found consists of two dealers on the far right alley, as you face the Marche Dauphine. These few shops have some quality antiques and also some nice decorative pieces.
There is a crèpe stand outside, always good for a mid-morning snack. Also, a nice café and decent restaurant at the back of Marche Dauphine, away from the crowds. In any restaurant, don't set your purse down where you can't see it, but keep it in your lap.
Serpette: 110 rue des Rosiers
Paul Bert: 96 rue des Rosiers and 18 rue Paul Bert
These are two of my personal favorites and offer an enormous selection of furniture, prints, paintings, mirrors, antique luggage, vintage clothing, hardware, art deco furniture and hardware, kitchen goods, etc etc. We have a few favorite dealers, but have bought mirrors, dressers, armchairs, prints, footstools, tables, soap dishes, antique hooks, etc here. One day I overheard a dealer say to several colleagues; 'Tu as vu, c'est Bill Gates la bas! Mister Meecrosoft!' So Bill was shopping a few stands up for his new house in Seattle and the dealers were forewarned that they didn't need to bargain too hard.
I start in Serpette and keep wandering up and down until I am lead outside into Paul Bert. Paul Bert has a combination of traditional dealers plus more kitsch ones that sell 50’s and 60's furniture. There is a large kitchen store in the back allies behind Serpette; prices are not cheap but the selection is wonderful. We’ve found chaise longue's and settee's along the back stalls behind Paul Bert as well as nice prints.
L'Entrepot is next on your left and tends to sell much larger pieces, architectural pieces, staircases, marble table tops and the back stock of some of the merchants you’ve met in the various Marchés. Always worth a visit if you’re furnishing a large home.
7-9 rue Jules Vallée is behind Paul Bert and Marché Serpette and sells antiques, small items, records, religious art. There is more bric a brac and thrift shop atmosphere.
Many of the antiques for our apartments come from The Puces and we hope you find it as enjoyable as we do!
You’ll find designer vintage clothing and jewelry stores throughout all the various markets. Check out Serpette and Paul Bert first where some of the biggest specialists have shops. Biron has the most expensive vintage jewelry. Dauphine has some interesting smaller dealers and Vernaison has numerous antique clothing and linen shops. Click here for more information about our latest finds in Paris vintage clothing.
The history of the flea market dates back over two centuries, when rag and bone men scoured through the garbage of Paris at night to find valuable junk to sell on. They were called 'crocheteurs' or pickers. The romantic term was 'pêcheurs de lune' or fishermen for the moon. Many set up their temporary stalls within the Paris walls, in sleazy neighborhoods but because these neighborhoods were full of pickpockets and thieves, they were chased out of the city walls to Clignancourt, Montreuil, Vanves, etc. The largest of these flea markets is the one at Clignancourt but the other two continue to this day.
The rag and bone men gathered outside the walls of Paris at the Porte de Clignancourt and set up temporary stalls where they hawked their wares. Eventually, they formed groups of stalls to attract more customers. The more enterprising traders began to 'trade up' in terms of goods and eventually it became popular for Parisian collectors and antique dealers to shop there for bargains.
In 1885, authorities in the town of Saint Ouen made a significant move to pave the streets and clean up the area, marking the official starting year of Les Puces. Several areas were designated as official market areas and a fee had to be paid to set up a stall there.
The markets grew until Monsieur Romain Vernaison transformed the acres he owned into a series of covered huts; voilà, Marché Vernaison was born.
Then an Albanian named Malik (rumored to be an Albanian Prince) bought a restaurant on rue Jules Valles and transformed the building into 100 stalls, forming the Malik market.
The Marché du Biron was formed in 1925, with two long rows of stalls and is known as one of the more expensive markets.
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