Paris is vintage and flea market heaven and going to the second hand street markets is a way of life for the French. For the past five years, my husband and I have chosen to spend part of each year in France and other European cities exploring antique shops, auction houses, flea markets, "brocante", "vide grenier" and "depôt ventes". Great way to really immerse ourselves in French culture.
The things that get me incredibly euphoric and enthusiastic about Paris markets is the amazing realm of different possibilities on offer. It is so pleasant to spend the early morning strolling through markets, in charming local neighborhoods where actual Parisians really shop. Every region holds them, usually on a weekend, or perhaps a national holiday. Some are all year round but the majority are held in the spring to autumn months.
These markets are often filled with treasures from true antiques to unique vintage to precious collectibles. Market sizes range from the tiny with just a few stalls to the enormous such as the Lille Braderie in the north of France with more than 10,000 stall holders! When I put photos on my Facebook page as I wander the markets, common questions that are asked all the time include “Where are you?” and “How do I find a brocante, antique shop, flea market or auction in ‘somewhere’ in France”? So this post is about my personal choice of the most interesting vintage and antique markets in France.
When you are looking to visit markets in France, you will often come across the terms "Marchés aux puces", "brocante", "vide grenier" or "depôt ventes", but do you know what each of the terms mean?
Below are my favorite Paris flea markets , with a diversity in location and character.
Marchés aux puces (Flea markets) - refers to the larger, fixed-location markets in Paris. "Porte de Clignancourt Les Puces" (usually referred to as the Marché Clignancourt) is one of the most famous flea markets in Paris and it is the largest of its kind in the world. Strolling through the Marché Clignancourt is an ultra-sensory experience. Marché Clignancourt has fourteen separate markets and carries some of the highest end vintage designs, home decor, antiques, and other fabulous finds. Check out Paris Perfect website for handy tips on tackling this monumental market. Where: Marché aux Puces Porte de Clignancourt, 140 Rue des Rosiers 93400 Saint-Ouen, France. Open Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. > Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. > Monday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Puces de Vanves Flea Market - This Vanves flea market is not a market for fine antiques but rather general collectables, eccentric one-off pieces and curiosities. Check the review Where: Ave Marc Sangnier & Ave Georges Lafenstre, 14th Paris (Metro Porte de Vanves). Open Saturday & Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
While Marché Clignancourt and Puces de Vanves are the most famous flea markets in the city, it’s the brocantes and vide-greniers that I find the most interesting. A visit to a brocante is the highlight of our trip to France: a lively encounter with everyday French culture, an exciting way to spend a few hours, and a chance to pick up unique things to add to our collection.
Brocantes are the most popular open-air type of second hand market in Paris for professional and semi-professional antique dealers. Each brocante in Paris has a different personality. At some, the dealers are gruff and pricy and others are more buyer-friendly and welcoming. Some Brocantes are specialized – one of my favourites is the Antiquities Brocante every Bastille Day in Montreuil sur Mer. For 2016, the Antiquity Antiques Fair will be at the Place de La Bastille from 5 to 15 May 2016
There are a couple of useful websites which you can use to search for a market:
In our view the trick to discovering Parisian treasures is Vide Grenier. Vide Grenier literally means empty attics. It's pretty much the equivalent of a car boot sale / jumble sale / yard sale and is often found in villages and towns around Ile de France, although less common in the centre of Paris. Garage sales and sidewalk sales aren’t permitted in France, so vide-greniers, or “empty the attic” sales, are the closest equivalent.
These are collective sales held in various neighbourhoods and almost the whole district participates in the market. It is such a fun exploration and unpredictable journey. You never can predict what will be there.
You can find the dates of the garage sales, flea markets and flea markets in France, Switzerland and Belgium at Vide-greniers.org.