The Fab­u­lous Flea Mar­ket

Dis­cover the fa­mous Paris flea mar­ket

Where Paris - - Contents - By Pa­tri­cia Val­i­centi

look­ing for a gate for your cas­tle, a piece of fur­ni­ture from the 17th cen­tury, an art deco lamp or per­haps in the mar­ket for a rare medal? Just north of the north­ern edge of Paris the cel­e­brated great Parisian flea mar­ket, the Marché aux Puces of Saint-Ouen, is in full swing burst­ing with a host of wares rang­ing from an­tique jewellery to Louis XVI pe­riod fur­ni­ture in a se­ries of var­i­ous mar­kets. The Puces of Saint-Ouen has been a part of the Greater Parisian land­scape since the 19th cen­tury and to­day the mar­ket groups to­gether some 2000 mer­chants and an­tique deal­ers in 12 dis­tinc­tive mar­kets (marchés) cov­er­ing some 9 hectares. The at­mos­phere is unique, pic­turesque and vil­lage-like with some of the mar­kets burst­ing with green­ery, and it goes be­yond a mere shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for bar­gain­ing is played out all along the way. While the stands sell­ing bric-a-brac and all sorts of wares have been op­er­at­ing in the area since the 19th cen­tury, the proper mar­kets were founded af­ter World War I on the heels of an urban re­newal project that brought in elec­tric­ity and run­ning water. Ro­main Ver­nai­son was the first to set up shop here in 1920 and the Marché Ver­nai­son is still in op­er­a­tion to­day with 300 stands spread out over 9000 square me­tres with fine fur­ni­ture one of the mar­ket’s spe­cial­i­ties. Over at the Marché Biron, 220 an­tique deal­ers of­fer a jour­ney into art history with their stands of­fer­ing art and fur­ni­ture from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th cen­turies. High-end paint­ings, ce­ram­ics, sci­en­tific ob­jects, de­sign pieces, jewellery, and pho­to­graphs are all on the agenda. The Marché An­tica is pos­si­bly the small­est of the mar­kets with about 12 mer­chants car­ry­ing a nice se­lec­tion of carpets, bibelots and art deco pieces. Mean­while, the Marché Dauphine, which opened in 1991, is one of the largest of the mar­kets in the flea mar­ket car­ry­ing high-end fur­ni­ture and ob­jects from the 17th and 18th cen­turies. Here one also finds crafts­men who carry out restora­tions and the bouquin­istes, the sec­ond-hand book deal­ers. Other items on hand from the 150 spe­cialised mer­chants in­clude cloth­ing, jewellery and records. Ship An­tiques for ship­ping pur­chases in France and abroad is found in this mar­ket. Old mu­si­cal in­stru­ments and ob­jects and fur­nish­ings from the re­gions of France are among the of­fer­ings at the Marché Cambo, which brings to­gether 20 stands on two floors in­clud­ing a space ded­i­cated to dec­o­ra­tion. The Marché Le Pas­sage of­fers up, among other items, a fine se­lec­tion of vin­tage cloth­ing, col­lec­tor post­cards and books in a space of 1000 square me­tres, which as its name im­plies is a pas­sage con­nect­ing the Rue Jules Val­lès to the Rue Le­cuyer. Col­lec­tors can take in the Marché Malas­sis with its in­ter­est­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and glass cupola. While the mar­ket of­fers a range of de­sign items, table­ware and bistro fur­nish­ings, it is also a fine stopover for col­lec­tors of watches, toys and post­cards. Of­fer­ings also in­clude books, an­tiques and porce­lain and ce­ramic pieces. The Marché Paul Bert Ser­pette is the largest of the mar­kets with col­lec­tors and celebri­ties from all over the world putting in reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances here. It is in re­al­ity made up of two mar­kets, re­spec­tively the Marché Paul Bert and the Marché Ser­pette. The open-air Paul Bert with its 200 stands spread out over 7 lanes is fre­quented by lead­ing dec­o­ra­tors of the world and of­fers fur­ni­ture from the Napoleon III epoch along with 20th cen­tury pieces. The Marché Ser­pette is the cov­ered part of the mar­ket with some 120 stands fea­tur­ing high-end fur­nish­ings, light­ing, and the Ol­wen For­est stands where you will find vin­tage de­signer jewellery and cock­tail ac­ces­sories. The quaint Marché des Rues whose stands are lo­cated in what were once small houses wel­comes bric-a-brac deal­ers re­veal­ing a host of items. Some 12 pur­vey­ors of art deco and art nou­veau light­ing as well as glass­ware and bronzes are found at the Marché des Rosiers where col­lec­tors of Lalique and Daume con­verge. The Marché Ma­lik stretches out onto what used to be a fruit and veg­etable gar­den but was turned into a flea mar­ket in the 1920s. Some 110 stands sell­ing sports­wear and trendy cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories are found in a venue of 3000 square me­tres and it is where French ten­nis cham­pion Joe-Wil­fried Tsonga has just opened up a space de­voted to sports. The two mar­kets, Marché Le­cuyer and L’Usine, re­main venues where hid­den trea­sures can still be un­earthed and are open to the gen­eral public dur­ing the week un­like the other venues. Still look­ing for that cas­tle gate, you might find it in the Marché de l’En­trepôt, which car­ries non-stan­dard and large items like mon­u­men­tal stair­cases and gar­den gaze­bos. Marché aux Puces of Saint-Ouen 142 rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen Open from Satur­day to Mon­day, from 10am to 5:30pm

In­side the Marché Paul Bert Ser­pette (top left) and invit­ing stands at the flea mar­ket (opposite page and top right)

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