Bargain hunting in Paris
Shopping in Paris is an experience that many dream of – the city inspires a level of commercial romanticism that is unmatched by almost any other place. From fashion to food, the French capital brings travellers from all over to indulge in retail tourism. The reputation is generally well-deserved as the city is home to a large number of chic high-end haute couture boutiques, les grands magasins (‘big department stores') and renowned speciality kitchenware suppliers like E.Dehaillerin.
But away from these, some of the real personality of Paris shines through in its local flea markets, called marchés aux puces. Specialising in brocante ('bric-a-brac'), these second-hand goods stores and stalls often carry rare and antique merchandise, from statues to period furniture, objets d'art and silverware. There are a number of exceptional French antique markets and street markets in Paris, so much so that some of these have become tourist attractions in their own right. And be ready to negotiate as you may be able to get a reasonable discount on significant pieces.
At around two and a half hours from London, the Eurostar provides fast and easy access to Paris. The Flexicover Team lists some of the top marchés for you to go on a treasure hunt!
The St.Ouen flea market comprises several associated market areas, spanning more than 7 hectares and playing host to around 3,000 traders. Also known as Clignancourt (the market is just outside this area of north Paris in the 18th arrondissement) or just Les Puces, it can see around 180,000 visitors on a good weekend. Started in 1885, this is the most famous flea market in France and in its varied mix of open-air stalls and covered boutiques, you can take your pick of amazing furniture, vintage clothes, silverware and art. For those searching out France's classical past, you can readily find items going back to the 17th century amongst these winding paths.
Porte de Vanves
If the sheer size of St-Ouen is a bit overwhelming, then head to the 14th arrondissement and a market adored by locals and expats alike. The Porte de Vanves flea market is considered by some to be even better than Clignancourt and home to some of the best thrift shopping in Paris, though smaller and not as aesthetically pleasing. It's only open at weekends, offering up a truly eclectic collection of wares. Rummage through cases and pore over stalls to choose from ceramics, art deco, linens, books, kitchenware, lamps and collectibles of all kinds sourced by the roughly 300 traders here from different regions in France as well as internationally.
More of a local favourite and not as famous as the two above, the Marché aux Puces de Montreuil is regarded as a great one for those in the know. Situated just beyond the 20th arrondissement, it is off the tourist track, so you can often find a treasure without competition amongst the staggering variety of items on offer. Antique goods here are usually from the late 19th century onwards with toys, old cutlery, 1940s light fittings, furniture and antique glassware some of the specialities. Bypass the everyday stalls piled high with odds and ends and head to the square at the end of the alley where the best dealers can be found.
Marché Georges Brassens du livre ancien et d'occasion
If you're a bibliophile, then you'll love the Marché du livre ancien et d'occasion (‘market of second-hand and bygone books'), an open air book sale held every weekend since 1987 close to Georges Brassens Park. About sixty booksellers set up stalls that hold an astounding collection of both old and out of print books from the 19th and 20th centuries and newer collectibles, like modern comics and classic bandes dessinées. Each stall tends to feature a particular genre or subject, ranging from film and gastronomy to history, novels or poetry. You can even find richly-bound rare books signed by famous personalities and illustrated works amongst the book towers.
This tiny market in the 12th arrondissement is readily accessible, not far from the Gare du Lyon and the Bastille. The Marché aux Puces d'Aligre is also surrounded by a great fruit and vegetable market and Asian/North African stores for a truly cosmopolitan Parisian experience. Here, you can find vintage clothes, trinkets, books, kitchenware and other bric-a-brac, all piled high and available at great prices. This vintage market in Paris is closed on Monday (like a lot of French shops) but open the rest of the week. It's advisable to get here early to rummage if you want to get the best of what's on offer.
If you're bargain hunting in Paris, remember we at Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.