I promised to post some photos and tips on French Flea Markets and Brocante bric-a-brac sales and many of the 175 comments on my last blog post mentioned my trip to France and interest in flea markets so I thought I better get to it and got a little carried away! I will post some new cool samples tomorrow and Denisa in our office picked winner #31 for our Blog Giveaway, Artful Whimsies who said: The stamp set is so nice and your trip looks fabulous!! Lucky you!
I LOVE the anticipation of what you might discover at flea markets, auctions and second hand stores, the thrill of finding wonderful treasures, especially old vintage images like this stuff I scored while in our vacation in France. I also fell in love with France, the people, history, beauty, food, art, it was all more incredible than I dreamed it could be!
One of my favorite purchases was the heavy 12” x 17” book above from 1901 filled with hundreds of pages of old embroidery, crochet and sewing patterns, alphabets and etchings of beautiful Parisian women. I also bought a bunch of ladies magazines, newspapers from the 1800’s and assorted French ephemera.
In the city, the Metro is the easiest and fastest way to get around but it was so fun walking we put on miles. Here I am at one of the old style subway stations. Paris is divided into 20 districts you can see HERE with the 6 Tourism offices which are super helpful, have maps and current event info.
Before I list the flea markets I wanted to tell you about the used booksellers we found while walking along the banks of the Seine River to see the cool bridges. After visiting the booksellers I took this photo on my fav bridge – Pont Alexandre.
Called bouquinistes, they have been selling here since the 16th century and today sell old books as well as magazines, prints, drawings and postcards.
Many also sell trashy souveniers and photocopies of old prints so be careful not to over pay for a copy. Open from about 11 am to sundown with several stall between the Pont Alexandre and Pont Neuf bridges on both sides.
French 'Vintage' Definitions
Marché aux Puces = Flea Market
Brocante ou bric-à-brac à vendre = old vintage up to 1960 – 70’s sale
Salon des Antiquaires = Antique Fair or Show
le vide-greniers = empty attic (geez, just imagine what is stored in some of those old French attics!)
We took the Metro to the largest & oldest Clignancourt Saint Ouen Market which is home to about 1500 dealers on the weekends who have permanent stalls for stores. It was crazy BIG and I could have stayed for a week and filled a van full!
I wish I would have taken better photos at the flea markets of some of the really cool stuff but honestly – I was so darn excited I kept forgetting to get out my camera.
Here are a Few Tips
None of the flea markets we visited charged admission which was nice but many vendors don’t take credit cards, so bring cash and not all big bills.
Arrive as early as you can – before all the good bargains get snatched up. If you are with others agree on a meeting spot & time if you get split up.
Don’t forget to barter! Just ask politely if they will take less. I found this worked great when buying multiple items. Also, try using any French you know, even a Bonjour helps.
Wear comfortable shoes, bring a back pack, camera and throw in a couple of good strong shopping bags, water and snacks so you don’t get pooped out like this guy I came across.
Porte de Vanves Flea Market: ave. Georges Lafenestre & ave. Marc Sangnier (Metro: Porte Vanves, Line 13) This market may not be as huge as Saint Ouen Clignancourt Market but every Sat & Sun there are over 350 vendors who sell everything vintage you can imagine. Sellers start arriving at 7 am and open till about 1 pm but the vendors on avenue Georges Lafenestre & Marc Sangnier stay open later. I’m sad we didn’t make it to this market as many people say it’s their favorite in Paris.
Marché d’Aligre Market: take Metro: Ledru-Rollin to d’Aligre Square. This fun open-air market has fresh produce and a flea market with vendors selling antiques, collectibles and bric-a-brac across from the covered Market Marché Beauvau Market, which has been open since 1777! Hours: Tues. - Sun., 8 to 1 pm
We went here on a weekday and I didn’t really find much but I did want to buy this lovely dustpan and brush set if I had more space in my suitcase.
When we returned to Paris we stayed in Montmartre & came across this big Sunday sidewalk bric-a-brac sale running down the main street on both sides of the boulevard for blocks. It was a beautiful sunny day and so much fun. That’s my honey Scott in the hat & glasses.
If you don’t make it to the flea markets you can check out the antique stores like the 80 located in le Village Suisse near the Eiffel Tower.
There are weekly and monthly flea markets, antique and bric-a-brac stores all over France.
The city of Lyon is home to over 650 antique dealers and Villeurbanne (on the outskirts) has the Canal Flea Market Thurs & Sat 8 to 1 pm and the Sunday market starts at 6 am with over 400 vendors! Bring a flashlight.
We loved Lyon but I didn’t make it to the Canal Market – sigh. We did tour their incredible city hall (yup, that’s just 1 of many amazing rooms below) built in 1650 and I got to go to the Typography Print Museum.
During our last week we drove across southern France to San Sebastian, Spain for 3 days and ate way too many tappas. On the way we stayed in Narbonne, visited the fantastic medieval wall town of Carcassonne (watch the video). I found this wonderful little store when we stayed overnight in Toulouse. The old man who owns it had stacks of books and paper items miles high so it was heaven for me!
Okay, where to stay in France?? Other than the villa, we used www.TripAdvisor.com and www.HostelWorld.com Set a hotel budget per night and read the reviews (which can be super helpful). You can book ‘private rooms’ through hostel sites – so n0, we didn’t sleep in any dorms! We found the best deal on a car at Sixt, a Ford Focus Deisel Wagon $330 Euros for 2 weeks, unlimited miles. Yes, we had toll booths but the train would have cost much more and we wouldn't have the freedom to visit so many enchanting little villages.
We came back to Paris for 3 nights and stayed at Hotel Ermitage in the Montmartre district for $110 Euros with breakfast and loved it! Even a chandelier and antique furniture!
Later I found this great site HERE homeaway.com that rents everything from villas and castles to studio apts, mostly by the week and I did the link to show the 35,863 available in France for $1000 USD or less per week and 1,106 are in Paris. If you want a castle you may have to up the ante.
This site lists many of the Flea Markets throughout France , Belgium & Switzerland
Here is a great site listing all the Antiquités Brocante Shows & Fairs in France
Lastly, remember that in French the word “souvenir” means memories and with such an old country it seems fitting to bring home a souvenir that hold some past history.
If you can’t make it to Paris, be patient as I plan to do a post on the Best Vintage Flea Markets & Shows in the USA.
In Sept 2009 I was lucky to go to the Brimfield Market, outside of Boston with over 6000 sellers! You can read my post & see the photos HERE. Too bad Canada doesn’t have vintage flea markets but over 75% of us Canadian’s live close to the USA border so we can drive to some.
I loved these dolls by Tin Lizzie! She doesn’t have a website but I found a contact for her HERE. Each one is a piece of funky one of a kind art.
See you tomorrow with some great new samples from our talented Design Team! PS - You can sign up for this blog at the top of the post and get it by email.
Wishing you joy & creativity
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