I LOVE a good flea market, don't you? Something about the hidden potential, the possibility for greatness and miracles, all dressed-down in a shabby exterior. Get's my heart pumping, y'all.
Paris is home to The Largest Flea Market on Earth. It's called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen and it's located way out in the boonies of Paris. It's actually really hard to find, if you don't know where you're going, so this map from Oh Happy Day! may just save you on your next visit.
Check out some pics:
I dragged my parents there the last time we were in Paris. It was my one request. And it was AWESOME. A little overwhelming - we got stuck in the outskirts where a bunch of North African guys were selling knock-off sunglasses and hoochie clothes. But once we got into the real fray it was great. Some stalls had mountains of bric-a-brack - old photos, frames, ash trays, keys, postcards -- just the general mass of ephemera that collects in closets and attics and eventually finds its way, through death or taxes, into the hands of the dealer. Then there were the specialists - stalls full of vintage clothes, antique furniture (big deal stuff) and art. These last two are where designers and retailers from around the world come to stock up on unique pieces. Way out of my price range, but still fascinating.
I came away with three purchases (the Euro is not kind to us Yankees):
A vintage dress
A vintage pair of awesome sunglasses
A vintage key with an aged sea shell on the ring. Probably the most charming in my collection of near one hundred keys.
Here's some photo evidence of the aforementioned dress and sunglasses. Sadly, the dress proved hard to style with those crazy shoulders and is now too big, but I still love it and keep it as a great memento. Someday, I'll get around to having it altered - maybe in time for it to return to Paris!
This time around, I'm toying with going back to Les Puce or trying another market. Our apartment rental company recommended the market at Porte de Vanves. They say this market is a more relaxed, traditional street market. The pictures (and those reasonable price tags) are tantalizing:
Paris has a plethora of other street markets: flowers, rare birds, local foods, textiles, you name it. Here's a great list.
I try to hit up a flea market or antique store everyplace I go. I search for antique keys (it's fun to have a collection to add to) or just walk and enjoy the shuffle. I found markets in Peru, India and China (check out the ones in Shanghai). It's a fun tradition I like to do - either alone or with forced companions ;)
What do you shop for on trips?