Letters from Paris: Flea Markets

It's spellbinding, it's magical, it's history and it's where you can find me every weekend while I'm in Paris!  I first set foot in the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen around 1995 as part of a group of people through my husband's work. We had three hours to see it all ... impossible for sure but a great teaser!  Yes, it can be overwhelming at 7 hectares (over 17 acres) and over 1,500 vendors but that must never stop you from exploring it!

Years later, I was in Paris with my friend David.  During a lovely dinner at Taillevent, I met a filmmaker friend of his and his companion Christopher. Christopher was at that time an assistant to fashion photographer Mario Testino. He talked about his weekend trips to the Puces to find vintage lucite furniture and photograph it for Mario. I was more than interested in his knowledge of the markets and he was kind enough to extend an invitation to us to go with him the following weekend. That was when I really started to learn about the Puces-- from the inside, and when I knew I would be returning again and again in my life.  Christopher led us in and out of the Serpette, Vernaison and Malassis markets stopping to snap a photo here and there. For a pause and reset, we had lunch in the garden of a family-owned restaurant (that sadly no longer exists)-- where I digested both my food and all that I had just experienced.  I can still see Christopher's graceful hands holding his vintage silver cigarette case and can remember the way it sounded as it clicked open and closed.  I will always be grateful to him for sharing his version of the Puces.

On subsequent trips, I would buy my first 17th century portrait and have it shipped home and I would meet some of the most talented textile vendors who would sell me the passementerie that I would later rework into my one-of-a-kind statement jewelry.  Currently, I'm furnishing our Paris apartment with all kinds of treasures and am always so impressed with the knowledge and integrity of the people I deal with.
Both the Saint-Ouen and the Vanves markets have become a big part of my life while in Paris.  I am driven by what I'm about to discover and what I have never seen before-- It is a passion!   The people who really know the Puces des Saint-Ouen refer to it as a village. The more I go, the more I understand why-- there is a small-world feel, a kind of intimacy amongst the vendors and all the beauty that they find and inspire us with.  

Marché aux Puces Saint-Ouen
Porte de Cligancourt / Enter on the rue des Rosiers
Saturday and Sunday 10AM-6PM
Monday 11AM-5PM


My favorite markets: Malassis, Paul Bert, Vernaison, Biron, Serpette
Lunch: 
Ma Cocotte-- 106 rue des Rosiers
Café Le Paul Bert-- 20, rue Paul Bert
Maison Burger-- Espace Habitat 77, rue des Rosiers


Marché aux Puces de Vanves
Avenue Georges Lafenestre
Saturday and Sunday 7AM-2PM
Informal market and much smaller than Saint-Ouen. This can be walked in a couple of hours. Enjoy a pain au chocolate and a coffee at the food stand in the center of the market.

 

xx Carla

 

 

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