Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Saturday at the Paris Flea Market

One of my favorite ways to spend a few hours in Paris is by visiting the flea markets (marche aux puces or brocantes). There's the famous market (actually hundreds of vendors located together) at Clignacourt (Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen) as well as smaller traveling brocantes of independent vendors who set up around Paris on most spring weekends. Here's a schedule for brocantes and vide-greniers (yard or garage sales) around France.

I especially like Le Marche aux Puces de Vanves that runs on weekend mornings until about lunch time. (Those antique sellers love them some dejeuner and no potential buyer is going to keep them from it so get there early.) It's much more manageable for an hour or two than Clignacourt and still has some great finds. I ventured out on a recent Saturday, kids in tow. (This I do not recommend. Ahem.)

I'm a bargain hunter at heart and love finding unique pieces that can really bring a room to life. (Those chairs and the vintage globe? Love.)
From fun mid-century furniture to gilded candlesticks and vintage linens, there's something here for everyone. I have a small collection of mismatched vintage teaspoons (mostly silver plate) and can usually manage to score a new piece for a euro or two. Stirring my morning coffee is always better with a vintage hotel silver or engraved antique teaspoon!
The first time we lived in Paris, I spent many happy hours at various neighborhood brocantes and discovered it was a great way to improve my French. The vendors are friendly (except with preschoolers with wandering hands...) and speak passionately about their wares. I learned a lot about French history, too. Tracing the monarchy through the styles of the various Louis made me anxious to learn more about France's past (which in turn makes living in Paris that much more fascinating.)

I've made a few small brocante purchases since we moved in (not having a car keeps me from the reckless, oversized splurge). I spotted these paintings and couldn't resist. These two are by the same artist and for 30 € for the pair, how could I say "non"? Modigliani's they're not but they make me happy. (Isn't that the point?) I nabbed the abstract for just 15 € at a neighborhood brocante. Like it? In fact, every brocante item I've bought tells a little story and means so much more to me than things I find at larger chain shops. So next time you're in Paris, think about adding a brocante visit to your itinerary. It's shopping, history and French conversation all in one. What could be better?


At July 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM , Blogger lilyelle said...

thanks for the post! I'm planning a big fall trip to Paris and have been looking for some markets to browse!


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