Want to know where to search for great one off pieces, unique finds, a piece of vintage French paraphernalia in Paris? Look no further – we tell you the locations of the best second hand markets in the city, where the fashionistas and designers shop for that indefinable je ne sais quois piece for their home – an item that becomes a talking point, a memory, a reminder of Paris…
The main places to look in Paris are the marchés aux puces (flea markets), brocantes (second hand shops or street markets) and antiquaires (antique shops).
Les Marchés aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
The biggest, most famous and the best in the opinion of many – the Marchés aux Puces de Saint-Ouen have been going for almost 150 years and are recognized as one of the largest markets for antiques and flea markets in the world. Set in 7 hectares, with more than 2000 exhibitors and fifteen markets. Some markets are covered, some open – this is a place where you can hunt for a bargain or a unique item from antiques or classic luxury goods such as restored furniture, paintings, bronzes, tapestries, mirrors, lamps and dishes.
You’ll also find old records, prints, children’s toys, books, photographs and other unusual objects. As well as vintage or trendy clothes, shoes, trinkets and fashion accessories.
Shop after shop where you can browse and bargain to your heart’s content all year round Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10.00 – 17.30 (though there are seasonal changes – see the St Ouen Tourism website for details).
Located: 140 rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint Ouen, 18th Arrondissement Paris
Metro: Line 4 Clignancourt, Line 13 Garibaldi
Marché de Porte de Vanves
Marché de Porte de Vanves is a weekend flea market open all year round with more than 380 vendors on its site. Here you’ll find furniture and objects of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Art Deco, 50s and 70s retro, metalwork, tools, tableware, glassware, silverware, vintage clothing, antique lace and textiles, antique jewellery and trinkets, cameras, radios and phonographs, old books and papers, coins, medals and militaria, paintings, drawings and engravings, photographs and postcards, curios, toys and folk art, religious objects and more! There are specialist dealers and those who have different and varied knick knacks every week.
Don’t be surprised to see famous faces here – those in the know just love to shop here for that something special you can’t get anywhere else. Go after 12.00 on Saturday or Sunday to find and bag a bargain.
Open Saturdays and Sundays all year round from 07.00 – 14.00
Metro: Line 13 Porte de Vanves
Address: Ave. Marc Sangnier and BC. Georges Lafenestre,14th Arrondissement Paris
Louvre des Antiquaires
Situated on rue de Rivoli, by the river Seine, and right by the museum of the same name. Depending on your taste you might be able to spend as long in this emporium as you could in the Louvre – if not longer! A group of more than 250 shops selling antiques and jewellery – over half a million international visitors pass through their doors each year.
Full of treasures but may disappoint those on a low budget – this one is for big spenders on the whole with a fantastic array of art, military artefacts, sculptures, jewellery – their website says that they can cater for the discerning bargain hunter too.
There is a coffee shop on the first floor called Le Marengo where you can rest your weary feet, ask for a table on the terrace – you’ll appreciate the view, you may need to book as it gets very popular especially in the summer.
Address: 2, place du Palais Royal,1st Arrondissement Paris
Metro: Palais Royale – Musée du Louvre
From one end of the spectrum to the other: Local Paris “yard sale” type markets
Brocantes, second hand markets, vide greniers, puces – they’re held on the street, in town halls and school buildings all over France. They are a way of life in France and the place to go for tat or treasure. See if there is one near you by looking in local newspapers or online, there are a few online directories but we think this one is the most comprehensive and accurate:
www.brocabrac.fr Paris is area 75 and the arrondissement location is clearly indicated in the listing (or by town/village name if outside central Paris)
You can use the guide to search by neighbourhood and market type – the majority take place at the weekend, or on public holidays. They come in all shapes and sizes from just a few stalls to hundreds. There is fun in wandering up and down and browsing as well as haggling and bagging a bargain.
To help you make the most of your shopping expedition check out our French bargain hunting language tips and remember:
Get stuck in! Have a good look at everything, rummage if you can – it’s what the locals do and no one will be offended by it.
Take Cash! There are no credit card facilities at the markets. If you’re in a shop that does take a card you’ll have more bargaining power if you pull out some notes and show that you’re willing to pay there and then in cash.
Beware pick pockets! Paris, like any other major city, has its fair share of pick pockets – they know that they will be able to target foreigners at the big flea markets. “Keep your hand on your half penny” as they used to say in the old days – keep bags firmly shut, don’t put valuables in your pockets.
Get there early or late! Getting there early means you’ll have the best choice, getting their late will often get you the best price.