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Paris Flea Market / Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
- Eva Jorgensen, creative director and author, mother of 2.
- Lifelong Francophile (my mother lived there growing up and I heard lots of stories), studied French in school and have lived over there in France and French-speaking part of Belgium for a couple of years in my 20s (as a student and volunteer).
- Have traveled to France a dozen times (sometimes for longer periods of time, like a family sabbatical a few years back.) I can never get enough lol!
- Now live in Utah. (Was supposed to move to France summer 2020 but that got postponed for obvious reasons.)
- I like to travel because I get so much creative inspiration… and it makes me feel alive!
I have an instagram account @parisbydesignco that I call “Le club for art + design-loving Francophiles.” Everyone is welcome!
It’s named after my book, Paris by Design: An Inspired Guide to the City’s Creative Side, which features interviews + photos with dozens of local Paris creatives as well as a city guide for those who love to visit art + design + food related things when they’re traveling.
I’m a longtime listener to Join Us in France! I first found the podcast in 2016 when I was preparing for a 3 month working sabbatical to Europe to do research for my book. There were hardly any podcasts about France back then, and although there are a lot more now, Join Us is still my favorite! Love all the history that I learn from both Annie and Elyse, the practical tips, the sense of humor, etc.
Quick Overview of trip:
- A mother / daughter trip for my 40th birthday and my daughter’s 9th birthday.
- (I’m Eva, her name is Ingrid)
- 9 days in Paris
- Flew direct from Salt Lake City to CDG
- Stayed in an Airbnb in the Upper Marais (3rd arrondissement)
- We visited a bunch of places all over the city, with a focus on art + design related things (and food) since that’s what we love. But for today, I’ll be focusing on our day at the Paris Flea Market (Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen).
The markets within the market that we visited on this trip: (Annie: We can also give a brief overview of the market as a whole before digging into the separate markets and specifics of what I saw, if you’d like?)
Marché Paul Bert / Serpette:
My favorite market ever! I’ve been to the Paris Flea Market 3 times, and I always go back to this market within the market. In the Paul Bert section, the stalls all open to the outside in picturesque alleyways, with their vintage furniture and other wares spilling into the walkways and ivy growing over the buildings. The vendors here are known for their unique and creative points of view. This was also one of my grandmothers’ favorite flea markets when she lived in Paris in the 70s!
I let Ingrid pick out a little vintage silver ring in the Paul Bert market. She still wears it and whenever she does, it reminds us both of that wonderful day.
A smaller, quiet market featuring high end antique furniture. It’s next along the path after you leave Paul Bert/Serpette.
This one consists of two main alleyways—one that is covered and has a casual flea market feeling. The second is lined with red carpet and the shops have big glass windows in front displaying high end antique art objects. We didn’t go in the fancy booths, but it was fun to walk by and peek inside. (Fun fact: This aisle of the Marché Biron was featured in the French TV show Lupin (Netflix)..
My second favorite market, Vernaison also has booths open to the outdoors and it can feel like a labyrinth out of a different century! (I just found out that it is the oldest section of the Paris Flea Market.) The vendors here sell smaller trinkets, vintage and second hand items. I brought home a handful of vintage fèves (tiny ceramic figurines) for la Fête des rois. 🙂
Where to eat:
All 3 times I’ve been to the Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen, I always get lunch at le Paul Bert Café and order a croque madame, which comes with a nice little green salad. They also serve chocolat a l’ancienne, which is so delicious and fun! (If listeners are not familiar, it’s a sort of hot chocolate where you mix in the chocolate, sugar, and cream yourself to your own liking.) I try to get there right at noon so I can get a seat near the big front windows.
Le Comptoir des Puces
A cozy cafe hidden inside the Serpette section of the market. My daughter needed an afternoon break, so we stopped here and had some tea and a slice of cake in the late afternoon—so nice!
Ma Cocotte looks quite stylish and nice, if you want something a little more upscale and less crowded.
The legendary Chez Louisette unfortunately just closed this past year, but you can still hear live music in the Marché on Sunday nights at Brasserie Biron (at least you will once COVID regulations allow it).
How to get to the Market:
Marin Montagut’s advice to me (and it works like a charm!) on how to avoid all the noise, hustlers, and booths selling junk around the Porte de Clignancourt entrance: Take the metro to the Garibaldi station. When you exit the station, cross the street and go through the park adjacent to the church. On the other side of the park, turn right onto Rue des Rosiers and walk until you run right into the back of the Marché Paul Bert. (If you want to use phone navigation, when you get out of the Garibaldi station, plug in “Ma Cocotte” which is a restaurant near the back entrance of the Marché Paul Bert.)
What I would do differently:
Buy the antique painting I had my eye on! I hemmed and hawed and decided not to spend the money, but if I had it now, I know I wouldn’t regret it.
What I wish I had known before I went:
Nothing from this trip (my third time there) but for my first time to the market, I wish I had known not to be so intimidated and just to go sooner! Also, I wish I had known Marin’s advice on how to get there to avoid the Clignancourt entrance.
A few more of my favorite spots for vintage, antique, and secondhand items in Paris:
Au Petit Bonheur la Chance
A tiny shop selling vintage bric a brac in the Marais. I bought some vintage notebooks here as fun, inexpensive gifts for friends.
Another tiny shop—this one packed to the gills with well chosen, affordably priced vintage clothing. My friend bought a beautiful winter coat here in October when the weather turned bitter cold all of a sudden.
Librairie Alain Brieux
They specialize in antique scientific books, engravings, and instruments. Only in Paris!
For those who like thrifting and a really good bargain (like I do) there are several locations of this thrift store chain throughout the city.
Thanx God I’m a V.I.P
High end vintage clothing all arranged by color, so the shop looks like a rainbow, so pretty!
Passage des Panoramas
To browse the vintage postcards and other paper ephemera in magical surroundings. (I love the covered passageways of Paris so much.)
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