Saturday, November 8, 2008

Marche aux Puces!

Ahh! The legendary Flea markets of Paris! How I wish I was rising early in the morning, grabbing a cafe, scurrying off to the marche to haggle and unearth some gems, stopping only for a crepe in the afternoon. I can almost see the man making the crepes in his little Black hat right now!

I have many fond memories of shopping with my mother in the flea markets of Paris. I remember being very little and complaining that everything was dirty, that I was cold, & I was tired (what they must have thought of me). Little did I know that I would grow to love these excursions with my Mom & they would become for me, some of my most cherished memories with her.

I myself only shop and bring home what little trinkets I can fit in my bags, my Mom, however, would ship crates back to the States as she was a designer. I never learned the ropes to get through customs and shipping it all home but I imagine it is a lot of Red tape! It's a good thing I never did learn, because I would own more chairs than my little home could hold!

One of my favorite markets is Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. Located just outside the city limits since 1885, this is the largest flea market in the world (over 17 acres), it is divided into 13 specialized markets and has over 2,000 individual dealers. I do believe that anything you can dream of wanting you can find here, you just have to dig! I recommend taking cash, some water, comfortable clothes & shoes, an empty shopping bag, plenty of time, and your best girlfriends. I always try to get there early (I am not a morning person) but I find that there is never a shortage of wares! There is something for everybody here. It is said that over 200,000 people come through here every weekend! WOW!

Another favorite of mine is Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves This is a must for anybody who enjoys Flea market shopping! This market has been around since the 1800's. I love it here. I have found some of the most amazing textiles here. This market has about 350 stalls & is open every single weekend, rain or shine, holidays, etc.
I have often wondered how the term Flea Market was born and after doing some research I have found the following theories as none can be authenticated,
The first, proposes that the term originated with the Marche aux Puces earning its name from the critter-infested goods it was rumored to sell.
The second alleges that the term was coined at a time when the slums and alleys of Paris were demolished and replaced by new construction. The dealers in second-hand goods who lived and worked in these old neighborhoods were forced to flee. The merchants' new gathering place was referred to as the "flee market," which later became "flea market." Hmmm, I'm not too sure about this one, I think I like the first description better.

The final theory associates the term with New York City's 18th century Fly Market. Apparently, the Dutch name for the market was vlie, which means valley but is pronounced "flea."
Well, I'll take my chances on bringing home some new pals (les puces) if it means getting my hands on some fabulous antique and vintage goods! I know a good exterminator!
Since I cannot be in Paris right now (please give me a moment to weep), I suppose I will go to the fantastic Rose Bowl Flea Market tomorrow morning! Yippee! It comes around once a month and I am so fortunate to live nearby, I'll keep you posted with any finds I might uncover there in the morning! It is not Paris but it will have to do for now.

I am by no means any kind of expert in the Flea Market field and if you are interested in this topic an incredibly fantastic source would be Claudia at
The Paris Apartment as well as her blog. I dream of one day going on a shopping trip in Paris with her and her group! Enjoy!
Bisou Mon Amis!
All photos courtesy of Flickr
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  1. Ooh la la... let's go shopping! I must get a new passport!
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! I love the photo with all the chairs... I would like to have a couple of them! YUM! Delicious!
    ENJOY the rest of the weekend!

  2. Judy this is my favourite French topic of ALL! Again I was only fortunate enough to spend a mere few hours at Saint-Ouen as I was dragging hubby and kiddies along...soooo frustrating lol. I too have a dream of going back on a shopping trip with Claudia. We should totally work towards this goal! Oh what fun!

    Anna :)

  3. my favourite, favourite places to spend the day. xv

  4. Great post! I love the Marche aux Puces. You made me feel as though I were there just yesterday. I cannot wait to visit again.

  5. Oh my, I want to go to one of your flea markets, talk about upscale!

  6. Hi Judy! I learned something new with your delightful post! History of the flea market. How I would love to be there now, without a budget!!!

  7. Ohhhh! I want it all. I don't even know where to begin.

  8. great post! I am dying to go to paris and explore places like these! in the meantime- I will read your blog and the paris apt.!

  9. Judith, another fabulous post!!! I remember my 1st rainy, cold {ok, freezing} and damp January day spent at Le Marche aux Puces up at Porte de Clignancourt. I was with a seasoned flea market friend and we had a blast looking through bin after bin of antique French linens, old books, amazing furniture and more. Needless to say, we were frozen by lunchtime and popped into a small {what else do you find in France} Italian restaurant. We began to thaw out with the help of a little red wine and one delicious pizza. I had almost forgot about these times... thank you for brining them back!
    Let's plan a trip with Claudia for Spring 09!

  10. Oh my goodness. I can only imagine the treasures to be discovered at the wonderful flea markets. Thank you for sharing some history with me this rainy Monday morning in north east Texas. I enjoyed your blog.

  11. Wow, all of that stuff looks amazing! I would LOVE to go to a French flea market! I bet you could find some GREAT stuff!

  12. Hello Judith, thank you so much for visiting and for your beautiful was very touching! I feel like I'm reading a chapter in the most glorious book when I visit...and those markets!!! Take Care Dzintra XX

  13. You are the best! I am off to print this out and put this in my suitcase! Thank you!


  14. I just got back from there and yes it is divine, we managed a smaller Puces at Michel-Ange d'Auteil as well. Found some beautiful books

    Next weekend I'll go hunting for antiques in my town, Stockholm. It's has a nice range of lovley things, strongly recommended to pay a visit. if you're in town.

    Love your post, alway a true pleasure.

  15. Lovely. You have a wonderful eye and I know your E~boutique will be a great success~~it is a lot of work but such an adventure. How fortunate you were to live in Paris~~now you can share the beauty with us all!!


  16. Great post! I loved the market at Vanves as it was so much more affordable for the non-collector. But the St-Ouen market has so much variety and wonderful history lessons!

    xo Terri

  17. I love your post !!! So interesting and the photos are stunning ! Thank you for sharing

  18. You are making me want to go to Paris so bad. I am the biggest fan of flea markets, thrift stores, gargage sales- anything like this I am there. Oh Paris Here I come- or at least I wish! Daisy~

  19. This is wonderful and I hope you return to this blog, one day!


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