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 store...is 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: http://ohhappyday.com/2011/03/how-to-get-to-the-paris-flea-market/ 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) - http://toneontoneantiques.blogspot.com/2013/04/lets-go-antiquing-in-paris.html
http://www.hedleyshumpers.com/property_news.html - 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. http://www.parisperfect.com/paris-flea-markets.php
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. http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=pictures&action=display&thread=3319
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.
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