Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Details from Paris and the Paris Flea Market

After attending my cousin’s wedding in London, my aunt, uncle, daughter and I took the Eurostar over to Paris for a 5 day visit. We rented an apartment in the 5th arrondissement, in the Latin Quarter, a left bank neighborhood that gets its name from the numerous university students in the area that spoke only Latin to their professors until around the time of the French Revolution.  Although the apartment itself was nothing to write home about (to put it politely), the area was wonderful – well located but off the beaten path, in a vibrant and un-touristy area, with easy access to all of the attractions either by walking or taking the bus and métro.  Another great advantage was that there were many good neighborhood restaurants, which we appreciated after a long day seeing the sights. My daughter and I particularly liked the wonderful boulangeries (bakeries) in the area, and had a marvelous French breakfast every day.

This was my second trip to Paris – I went for the first time 5 years ago. Because it was my daughter’s first visit, we went to many of the well known tourist destinations.   We also carved out a morning to visit the famous Paris Flea Market, known as Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is only open Saturday-Monday, and reportedly receives over 100,000 visitors each weekend!  We took the métro to Porte de Clignancourt, which is at the end of Line 4, and it was SO easy. Luckily, I had read a good overview of the Flea Market on Oh Happy Day,  and knew that the first market that you pass – more of a swap meet – is NOT Les Puces (many first time visitors never get beyond this first area, thinking they have arrived at Les Puces, and they are very disappointed).  It is important to go all the way beyond this first market, and under the overpass. Typically there will be a sizable group of people getting off the métro and heading to Les Puces, so we pretty much ‘followed the crowd’ until we got to the area of the market indicated on Oh Happy Day’s map.

I have read so many stories about people finding the perfect treasure at Les Puces, but I am not sure if I have the eye, the patience, or the budget  to have that experience! Primarily, I was on the hunt for a barometer, and also thought I would educate my eye on antique chandeliers.

I had done a little bit of research on the Paris Flea Market, but not a lot, so I didn’t really have many preconceived notions. I was also not planning on doing a blog post on my experience, so I didn’t take many pictures of the market itself.  One thing that surprised me was how the Flea Market is made up of numerous different markets that are located in different areas, buildings, and streets.  Each one has its own character and offerings.

One of my favorites was Marche Biron, as the quality of the merchandise is top notch (and the prices reflect this).  I saw several things at Marche Biron that I had admired on the 1st Dibs Paris site.  Loi from Tone on Tone recently wrote a post on Les Puces, and he highly recommended Marche Biron for its “classic French antiques, fine artwork and dripping crystal chandeliers” – right up my alley! I was not disappointed.

One of the beautiful crystal chandeliers seen at the Paris Flea Market.

I admired this barometer, which is also on the Paris 1st Dibs site.

A pretty Baccarat chandelier at one of the vendors in the Marche Biron.

I wish we had been able to spend more time at Marche Paul-Bert and Marche Serpette, which had a great mix of indoor and outdoor dealers with a wide range of items, from the formal to the casual. This was towards the end of the street, and my group had really petered out after spending a few hours at some of the other buildings; in particular, we spent a lot of time at Marche Dauphine, not because it was so exceptional but because it was so big (over 60,000 square feet).  By the time we came out of Marche Dauphine, we were really tired.  We headed over to Marche Paul-Bert and Marche Serpette, but just did a quick pass through.  I would recommend researching the different markets before heading over there, and making a list of markets you definitely want to see first (based on recommendations and descriptions).

I thought the whole experience was interesting, and I am so glad that I went. Truthfully, I barely scratched the surface, and I will certainly return to Les Puces in the future.  (See end of this post for Paris Flea Market resources if you are planning a trip there; many of these links have great pictures of the Flea Market).

Other than the trip to Les Puces, this was not a shopping trip, but I took a few pictures of windows that caught my eye. The gallery in the St-Germain-des-Prés area featured a striking collection of framed sketches.

An attractive display in a lamp there any doubt that brass is back in style when looking at this tableau? I like the one on the right that adjusts and pivots.

The beautiful doors in Paris are a constant source of inspiration.  This one features elaborate ironwork, and intricate stone carving. Note how the architect’s name is carved into the stone (on the upper right), as well as the year of the building.

This gray door, with initials in the windows, was on a non-descript street and sits next to a sushi bar, yet is a thing of beauty.

Blue doors always have appeal. I love the center knob design of so many of the doors.

Another blue door, with a limestone surround that looks like it has the patina of decades of city life.

A glimpse inside a charming courtyard…usually the doors to the couryards are closed, but I love it when they are open and I can take a peek.  Notice how the potted boxwoods define the entry to the home.  I like the greenery that grows in abundance around and over the door.

Of course, since I had just noted the pretty planters in London, I also snapped a few iphone pictures of classic French style planters seen in the gardens around Paris:

An olive toned French planter at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Two different terracotta pots contain these trees on a street corner.

Orange trees contained in classic French planters, painted a beautiful shade of green, in the Tuileries Garden.

And finally, one of my favorite places in Paris, La Sainte-Chapelle. It is right near Notre Dame, and the second floor, which has stained glass on all sides, is absolutely breathtaking on a sunny day. Five years ago there was no scaffolding, and I was absolutely stunned when I emerged from the small curvy stairs into the stain glass room.   This time, there was extensive preservation work being performed, so one of the walls was covered, and other walls had scaffolding outside. Still, a magnificent experience.

While I was at La Sainte-Chapelle, a high school choir gathered and performed several songs – it looked fairly impromptu, but I am sure they had it all planned out.  It was a memorable experience! It turns out that they were from Atlanta – the Woodward Academy choir. Small world.

A view of the rose window – I did a post on rose windows in 2007 (seen here) – I find them to be so incredibly beautiful and majestic.

Here are some resources that would be helpful for anyone planning a visit to the Paris Flea Market  (Les Puces) – these posts are also a great way to get a virtual tour of the markets.

The Oh Happy Day post was a very helpful introduction about how to actually find the Paris Flea Market once getting off the metro:  She also has a good map that I printed off and used as a guide.

I also enjoyed reading the recent blog post by Loi on his recent trip to the Flea Market (he is an antique dealer, so this was a great perspective, and there are lots of beautiful pictures) -  - this is a shipper that can arrange for pickup, packing, and delivery of items purchased, but they also have an interesting and informative page on the Paris Flea Market, describing the various markets.

Paris Perfect also has a great article on the Paris Flea Market, with hints and tips for visitors.

This post has a lot of pictures, which show how to navigate your way to the market, and lots of pictures of the market itself. It’s a great way to see the mix of the high and the low that can be found at the Paris Flea Market.

After my last post, I had dozens of emails from people who are planning a visit to Paris this year.  Have you ever been?  What are your favorite things to do?  Have you ever been to Les Puces (the Paris Flea Market)? Please share any tips and recommendations for my next visit, and for the readers who will be traveling to Paris this year! Email subscribers, click here to comment.

The beautiful vintage French painting collection is still available until Friday -

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  1. beautiful images, holly. that would really be my dream trip. we travelled to italy a few years ago with friends. next and the markets.

  2. Never been to Paris, but have been wanting to go the last few years. The flea market is high on my list of things to see. Thanks for all of the links on info.

  3. What fabulous photos, it looks like you had a fantastic trip!...that barometer is just divine...I hope you managed to find one to take home with you!...xv

  4. Beautiful Holly - and so funny - I just got back from Paris with my girls as well!! We never make it to les Puces but it was a wonderful first visit for them. Wonder if they are the same ages - would have been fun to connect!

  5. It is always good to educate the eye. I admire that you went to Les Puces with that in mind, because in reality everything is so very expensive that there are no bargains. Did you find a treasure to bring home? Any new thoughts on chandeliers? Thank you for this post, it allowed me a mini vacation this morning.


  6. Hi, great post! We just got back from Paris too and were at the Flea Market this past Monday - sounds like we were there at the same time! It was my second time going to Les Puces. The first time I too, had a map. This time I was trying to find it (with my crew of not-so-enthusiastic family members!) without one and stumbled upon a row of vendors that I had not seen the first time - all incredible! We just got home and now I'm researching the shipping of the pieces I want (some for me, some for the store). Since our trip was completely last minute, it was ad hoc as far as what we did, where we ate, etc. I will post my random photos in the next few days. I think we both took a photo of the same blue doors! Glad you had a nice trip!

    1. Shipping is so expensive. I found a beautiful chandelier, and the quote to pick up, pack, crate, and ship was 1900 euros! Then, it would have cost me hundreds of dollars to get the chandelier cleaned up (it was dirty) and delivered to my house. It gives me greater appreciation for what antique dealers have to pay to transport things, although of course they have large volumes of items.

  7. Hi Holly - I am so jealous! I want to be back there again. I went to Les Puces in 2000, with my soon-to-be husband. I have a few tips for shoppers...1) Don't go with your husband! At least, if they really aren't into shopping and antiques. My honey talked me out of buying some things that I later bought here in the US for more money - namely some antique Quimper plates and some French kitchen wares. I did purchase some antique French bird illustrations and some vintage posters...but I could have cone back with more, sans "him!" 2) If you see something you love, buy it! You may never find it back home!

    Thanks for the armchair visit!

  8. Oops - here's my new blog address.

    Thanks again,


  9. The doors in Paris are so beautiful! When I see an open door, I love to peek in. The puces is huge, and we usually will spend 2 full days there. Great photos, Holly!
    x Loi

    1. I am especially appreciative of your tips, they were very helpful when faced with the overwhelming decision about where to go!

  10. took my first trip to the Puces this past April...thankfully I was only looking for antique textiles otherwise I would have been overwhelmed without an agenda. Found a beautiful piece (remnant from an old drapery panel) which is being made into a pillow just this week. We were advised to only take credit cards....a mistake. The vendors we visited all accepted cards but would have given better deal for cash. If purchasing small items under $300 I would recommend cash.

    Our favorite dealer with an extensive collection of textiles in Marché Dauphine...amazing. Exceptional service.

    1. I saw her shop - I wish I understood what I was looking at, I would have gone in. Next time!

  11. Dear Holly,
    As soon as I have rehabbed a bit more from my last surgery I will go to France with Andrea!
    So excited to see Paris; I know I will be mesmerized!

    Giveaway by The Enchanted Home

  12. What a fabulous post! I loved reading about your trip. I have longed to go for years. Hopefully we are going next year. I am sure I will refer back to your wealth of resources when planning my trip. Thanks Holly!

  13. My heart aches to go to Paris. Some day, I hope. I heard it is very expensive, so I will need to save my pennies.


  14. Le-Sainte Chapelle was for me an memorable experience. I stayed there for the longest time just looking up at the beautiful glass, admiring the wood details in the building. To understand that it was built around 1242 and what the building has stood up against - elements of weather and war, leaves me in awe. I took many pictures and have a large print of the glass - hanging in my home. It draws me back to the time that I spent there.
    The doors are incredible and it makes me wonder why manufacturers here in North America don't produce replica's of the style. The center knob with inset moldings would compliment so many home styles here.

    Great notes and images..... share some more!!

  15. so funny -on our recent trip i took many of the same photos as you! (the same art gallery and the same lamp shop! haha). I've never been brave enough to go to the flea markets. I'm always just happy to stay in the city. They sound exhausting!! i was happy they have the traveling brocante's and got a bit of antiquing in that way at the place bastille. Looks like a grand adventure!

  16. I think I took pics of those same! No where is picture taking more fun than in Paris! We also went to the flea market and realized we needed a week not a day! So much to see, so many beautiful things..I was like a kid with a bad case of ADD! Paris is the ultimate in every sense and I just cannot wait to go back hopefully sooner than later!

  17. I have a black forest style barometer if you are interested. I am selling a lot of black forest accessories. I can send you picture if you are interested and did not find one! Great blog! Great trip!

  18. thanks so much for sharing your flea market experience ... it's on a short list for me of must sees!

  19. Hope to be checking out your links in a couple of years, to USE !!

    Alas, current trip will be Pittsburgh? Work obviously. However, I will get to visit the Frick.

    Oh, the gray of those doors............some things easily remain in memory.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  20. Love the framed sketches!!! I want them:)

  21. A beautiful post! I have been to Paris every year since I was a teenage, which over 30 years. Each and every time I find and see something new. If it is your first time my suggestion for "must see" place is the Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee d'Orsay, Sainte Chappelle, Versailles, Luxemburg Gardens, Musee Jacquemart Andre. Make sure to purchase a museum pass so that you can avoid the lines. Walk as much as you can because there is a suprice around every corner, either a museum, a beautiful park, wonderful architecture, the perfect cafe to sit an while a few hours away people watching.

    Thanks for sharing your tips for the flea market! Remember if you are going to the flea market be careful of the pick pockets. My first trip there I almost turned around, I was alone and a little alarmed, luckily a very nice man told me to push on the best was yet to come, but he also told me to be careful.

    Have a great week.


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