Voila- finally a Paris post. I swear I really did go!
I arrived in Paris early on a Sunday morning and made my way to my hotel on Rue Bonaparte (on the Left Bank, near Saint Sulpice). It was still a bit early for me to get into my room, which fortunately took care of any inclination I may have had to nap! So I dropped off my bag and headed with my parents to Paris's best-known flea market, the sprawling Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.
To get to this particular market, you take the 4 line on the metro all the way to the last stop, which is Porte de Clingancourt. The market itself is about a third of a mile away from the metro stop (you pass under a lovely highway overpass to get there), and as you walk there it's easy to wonder if you're in the right place, or if everyone who waxes poetic about French flea markets is actually delusional. The street on the way to the market is lined with stores selling cheap knock off sneakers and undesirable leather goods; meanwhile men periodically shove fake Louis Vuitton and Gucci purses in your face as you walk along. Just before the flea market, there's an outdoor market selling cheap clothing and bric a brack- don't get deterred- that's not THE flea market!
Finally you'll veer to the left on Rue de Rosiers, where the true flea market begins. It may look like a normal street lined with little shops, but veer off on either side and you'll find a pleathora of individual stores and marketplaces.
We started off to the left at Marche Mallasis, which takes you back in a circular sort of courtyard lined with small individual shops. Nothing there really had pricetags so it was hard to tell exactly what range I was looking at, but I don't think that any of the finds there were of the inexpensive variety. It was a well-edited selection of furniture and art.
I loved this little bar cart, but something tells me shipping it home would be more expensive than the cart itself!
A one of a kind chair!
My parents had artwork almost exactly like this hanging over their bed in their hotel room- it's a unique way to frame smaller prints that might be overwhelmed if framed individually.
Lovely paintings. I wish I knew more about buying art.
After Marche Mallasis, we headed across the street to Marché Vernaison, and that's when things really got interesting. This market was much more along the lines of the flea market experience I was expecting. They had a little bit of everything there- beads and buttons, jewelry, majolica, barware, linens, art, this and that, you name it.
I loved the huge tortoise shell hanging here (can you spy it behind those massive vintage lamps?).
All sorts of beads for sale (though mostly plastic).
It's hard to see here, but this was a whole booth full of antique keys.
What can I say, I love skulls and taxidermy...and that abounds at this market! I tried to buy a vintage bottle opener made of a taxidermy deer foot, but was told by the slightly snooty vendor that it was 100 euros. I figured I don't need a taxidermy deer foot bottle opener that much!
This place was stuffed to the gills with ridiculously eclectic bakelite jewelry
Ahhh, silver!!!!! And lots of it at every turn! This was my favorite, and perhaps the best type of bargain to be had.
Does anyone know what those little contraptions are in the middle? Every silver booth had plenty of them. We had to ask and were kind of surprised at the answer.....any guesses???
Why can I see this type of thing popping up in Anthropologie next season? Lots of vendors had antique printing press letters (or I think that's what they are).
The shops in this part of the market are situated on small, quaint, zig zagging alleys. Just when you think you've seen everything, you realize you've only seen half!
Majolica....this whole shop was lovely.
My souvenir- a hammered silver cup that I'm going to use as a toothbrush holder.
After about 3 hours of wandering the flea market my jet lag started to kick in a bit and we headed out to grab a bite to eat back in our neck of the woods. I think we barely scratched the surface of the flea market and I can't wait to go back again once I'm in Paris- this is definitely something you could do over the course of a couple of days if you really wanted to cover everything. I wouldn't say that there were dirt cheap bargains to be had, but I did find the silver prices very reasonable.
It obviously helps if you have something you collect, otherwise the selection can be a bit overhwelming. I looked mainly at vintage barware and silver. I didn't focus much on furniture because of obvious problem of getting it home, but I can see how designers might love to shop here for their clients when someone else is footing the shipping bill!
More from Paris as the week goes on!