There may be only one place on the planet where you can find ancient French tapestries, intricately carved African fertility statues, a moth-eaten orangutan and a copy of Barry Manilow’s “Paradise Cafe” (on vinyl, no less). With a selection of antiques even the Smithsonian might envy, France’s Marché aux Puces de Paris/St-Ouen beckons bargain hunters, interior decorators, and the just plain curious.
Widely considered to be one of the largest antiques and second-hand markets in the world, the marché embraces more than 1,700 stalls sprawled over 10 hectares in Paris’ 18th arrondissement.
Flea market aficionados flock here to snap up deals on everything from silverplate to crystal balls to 17th-century suits of armor.
Need a medieval crown from the South of France? Chances are, they’ve got that, too.
Even if your expense account doesn’t cover jewel-encrusted headgear, it’s an amusing way to spend an afternoon.
Lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleyways and simply soak up the atmosphere as you browse for deals on some of the strangest stuff to ever clog a closet.
Don’t let the terrifying assortment of taxidermy and avocado-green crockery dissuade you. There’s always some unexpected treasure tucked among those discarded platters and stuffed varmints, and half the fun is finding it.
Afterwards, visit Chez Louisette, a café in the heart of the market, where you’ll be treated to the surreal experience of slurping French onion soup while listening to a chanteuse sing Edith Piaf’s sad ballads beneath a mirrored disco ball and tinsel.
Happy hunting, cherie!
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: Metro stops: Porte de Clignancourt (line 4) or Garibaldi (line 13)
WHEN TO GO: Open Saturday 9-6; Sunday 10-6; Monday 11-5. (Hours and number of stalls may be reduced August 1-15, when half of Europe heads off on holiday).
WHAT TO BRING: You may want to have cash on hand, though some vendors will accept credit cards. If you’re searching for something specific, bring paint chips, swatches of fabric or wallpaper, dimensions and a tape measure. Beware of pickpockets.
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