A flea market of the grandest kind: le Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, Paris

I have always wanted to go to a French flea market and last weekend provided the perfect opportunity.  I was in Paris with four friends for a ten year reunion since graduating university.  Wow, time flies.  Although we hadn’t all been together in almost three years, reassuringly it was the same as always and we had a really fun time.

A picture of the Eiffel Tower with the caption Bonjour ParisAfter a wonderful Saturday evening of fine food and wine at Comme Chez Maman, so fantastic that we couldn’t help but take photos of the exquisite dishes placed in front of us (I’ve sneaked a couple of pictures of my dishes at the bottom of this post), we had a leisurely Sunday morning before heading to the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen.

A picture of French flag buting with the caption Marche aux Puces de St-OuenDescribed in our guidebook as the world’s biggest flea market, we had high expectations.  Getting out of the métro at Porte de Clignancourt we were confronted with hordes of street sellers and a modern market to weave our way through before finding the flea market.  After reading this Time Out post, maybe we should have gone to Garibaldi métro to avoid the crowds but it was all part of the experience!

The market is actually a series of markets specialising in different things, many of them more high-end than ‘flea’ these days.  Before we entered the antiques section, we wandered past this luxurious hat and accessories shop with beautiful hats on display.

A picture of vintage hats outside a shopNot being able to think of a good enough excuse to buy one, we went down a winding alley off the main road into a maze of little shed-like stalls selling everything from wooden furniture to vintage dresses to exquisite glassware.  I was hoping to find some 1950s Arcopal glassware and maybe some French farmhouse style dishes but the majority of china and glass items were of a grander style with prices to match!  Although I didn’t buy anything it was fascinating to wander around and take in the stylish displays or rummage through bargain boxes.  Even vintage match boxes were elegantly displayed in this brown suitcase.

A picture of vintage matchboxes in a brown vintage suitcaseI was very tempted by vintage fabric trimmings but given that I have a huge box of them at home, I restrained myself.

A picture of vintage fabric trimmings in a wooden boxI kept spotting pieces of furniture that I liked but as we were travelling by Eurostar, there was a limit to my hand luggage allowance!  I love the bright shabbiness of this chair, which would have been perfect for the garden.

A picture of a vintage yellow wooden chair

And this beautiful horse would have fitted well under a tree or inside a majestic hallway.

A picture of a vintage metal horse statueI spent some time looking at silver cutlery, wondering at first which ones were solid and which ones were silver-plated.  I soon worked this out after looking at the prices…!

A photo of vintage silver spoons in a boxI liked the use of vintage wooden beams and crates in this slightly bizarre stall selling vintage style curios and oddball toys.

A photo of vintage cotton spools on a rustic wooden shelfAfter wandering around the market all afternoon, we had still only seen a tiny part of it.  But our Eurostar train was calling so after an essential ice-cream ‘pick me up’, we finally left.

I’m looking forward to returning to France in September, where I’m hoping to find some more flea markets and this time I’ll have a car!

Rach x

p.s. This was my sublime chèvre and watermelon salad, and my desert – the biggest fluffiest sweet waffle ever!  If you’re ever in the 17th arrondissement in Paris go check out Comme Chez Maman.  I wish it were in London!

A photo of watermelon and chevre saladA photo of a Waffle with chocolate sauce and cream

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