Sunday, September 18, 2011

Le Marché aux Puces... St. Ouen Flea Market in Paris

I decided to continuing exploring in my second weekend in Paris, I wanted to visit a place I had never been on my 3 previous trips to Paris... the St. Ouen Flea Market. Covering 7 hectacres, it's often regarded as one of the places you can get high quality antiques and furniture from well qualified professionals.

Getting there was an adventure. It's on the outskirts of Paris, and you can reach it by taking the number 4 line to the last stop, the Porte-de-Clignancourt, which happens to be where Amy and I stayed at in 2006. You have to navigate through a semi-scary crowd of scammers trying to sell you fake purses and watches, they can get aggressive at times. I had to put on my best "touch me and I'll break your fingers" look. Also, make sure you protect your wallets and personal items. There are many pickpockets in the area, don't flash your wads of cash for everyone to see. You'll want to head there early in the morning, it's estimated that over 120,000 people visit the market every weekend, and the afternoons tend to get busy.

Once I made it through the shady areas, I was finally inside the market area. The market is organized by grouping different specialties in alleys..... furniture, art, comic books, cooking supplies, dolls and children's toys. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, so I just wandered around and looked at everything.


These beautiful copper cooking pots caught my eye. I immediately thought of Julia Child's collection of copper pots that I saw on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. I like to imagine what kind of dishes that someone previously prepared in them. Did someone make Coq au Vin in the big pot? Did they make a cassoulet in the medium one? What kind of sauces did they make in the sauce pans? After checking the prices on each pot, I quickly realized that they're not for someone living on an Au Pair budget! A girl can dream, right? Maybe one day when I'm rich and famous I can go back to Paris and buy my own set of vintage copper pots for my kitchen.

One of the other things I spotted that caught my eye were all the pieces of vintage luggage I saw. One booth specialized in nothing but vintage luggage from airlines... lots of Air France, Pan Am, TWA. It set my heart a flutter. Again, it gets you thinking... where have those bags traveled with people? What kind of stories could they tell? But sadly, they were also out of my price range. 90 Euros for a small carry on? Even with haggling (which is encouraged!) I don't think I could've gotten it.

I spent a few hours just wandering around, taking it all in. I kept my eye open for some trinkets by request from my friend Ashley (who is a fantastically creative lady, her blog can be found here). Alas, I left the market empty handed. If you're in the Paris area, and looking for an activity that isn't a monument or museum, you should check out the St. Ouen flea market. It's open Saturday thru Monday, and if you go on a Sunday or Monday you may be able to score a better price, many sellers are willing to haggle for a lower price. Not many sellers are open on Mondays, or by appointment only. Note that many booths will shut down for an hour to an hour and a half at lunchtime so they can enjoy their lunch.

Saturday - 9:0o-18:00
Sunday - 10:00- 18:00
Monday- 11:00- 15:00
Metro Stop: Line 4, Porte de Clignancourt


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