Sooner or later, everyone is faced with a lazy and unplanned Saturday in Paris. It’s on these days that the vintage treasures and valuable heirlooms of the attics of this 2,000 year old city spill out into open air markets.
Flea markets originated as junk dealerships where rag-and-bone men would sell off unwanted goods. Nowadays, you snag a vintage film camera for a great price or decorate your new Parisian apartment with an affordable china set that’s so old, it’s retro.
Paris is big on markets, whether they be for fresh foods or recycled treasures. There are a number of regular flea markets or marchés aux puces, in Paris, and the best selections normally take place on weekends. Informal secondhand markets include the brocantes, open-air sales during nice weather that are generally cheaper than flea markets, and vide-greniers, or closet/garage-emptying sales hosted by a community or neighborhood.
Lose yourself for a day in one of these famous flea markets of Paris and unearth one-of-a-kind home decor or add a gem to that vintage stamp collection.
Le Marché aux Puces de Paris / Saint Ouen
Let’s start with the biggest. One of the largest antique markets in Paris and possibly the world, Le Marché aux Puces de Paris is also a well-visited tourist landmark in France. The stalls are both covered and in open air, and the entire market is so large that it includes sectioned thematic strolls that center on old books, travel, cinema, and music. You can also book a 2-hour private tour of the markets to really delve into the grand shopping center.
The market is open Saturdays (9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.), Sundays (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.), and Mondays (11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.), off metro line 4 at Porte de Clignancourt. You can also check out the market’s brochure to view a map, hours, history and types of antiques sold at the market.
Marché aux Puces de la Porte des Vanves
This marché aux puces is another large open air market, with over 380 merchants present every weekend of the year. This flea market, although not as well-known, always has an interesting mix of antique items, artwork, and jewelry for buyers to sort through. Some may find that this market may be easier to navigate through than the marché aux puces at Saint Ouen, and it’s a favorite of many Parisians because of the size and selection.
The market is open Saturdays and Sundays (7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.), off metro line 13 at Porte de Vanves, with further directions here.
Marché aux Puces de Montreuil
Les Puces de Montreuil is one of the older flea markets in Paris today, established in the 19th-century. You won’t find many tourists here, but you’ll have much more flexibility in haggling down a price for the wide array of antiques. As with most of these flea markets, you have to fight your way to the center of the market to find the real treasures; most of the stands on the outskirts of the market are selling cheap trinkets or old junk.
The market is open Mondays through Saturdays (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.), off of metro line 9 at Porte de Montreuil.
6 Pro Tips for Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck
Arrive before the market officially opens to get the best selection. Arrive at closing hours (preferably for the week) to get the best bargain.
Bring change. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone willing to take your €50 bill.
You could spend all day at one of these large flea markets. If you’re short on time, come with a mission in mind to help narrow your search.
Bring your own shopping cart/bag if you’re doing some serious vintage decor shopping. Shipping is also an option at some markets.
If you want any luck haggling down prices, you’ll need to acknowledge the man or woman in charge first. Remember to always say hello, at the very least.
If you’re trying to save money, consider seeking out a more informal brocante or vide-grenier. Two websites great for finding these local informal markets and community garage sales are Brocabrac and Vide-Greniers.org.