A flea market is a type of street market that provides space for vendors to sell previously-owned (second-hand) merchandise. Treasures certainly abound in Paris, a city of folks blessed with phenomenal taste. The flea markets not only attract tourists looking for unique souvenirs, but also frequented by professional treasure hunter who are good at discovering buried treasures with their insight.
The Paris flea market is the largest antique market in the world. It comprises some 2,500 stores, spread across 15 markets. The Paris Flea Market is actually composed of many different markets, they all have their speciality. Find your dream object, the perfect purse, the piece you’ll need to complete your collection or simply the perfect souvenir for your relatives.
Whether you’re exploring the massive Saint-Ouen market or poking through treasures under the canopy above a secondhand book stall, Paris’s flea markets offer something for everyone. The most famous flea market in Paris is the Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is well known to travellers; The Puces flea market in Paris is the largest of its kind in the world and is brimming with vintage and antique treasures; the Porte de Montreuil flea market has existed since 1860.
The famous and huge Paris Flea Market of Saint-Ouen contains plenty of drool-worthy treasures at all price ranges, but savvy Parisian shoppers know most items at Les Puces are fairly priced by knowledgeable dealers. When they want to score real bargains, they head to smaller flea markets, street markets, and even brocante sales of vintage and second-hand goods.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Taste the thrill of the hunt for cheap deals while you’re in Paris, copy the Parisian bargain hunters: visit the city’s two smaller flea markets, Montreuil and Vanves. In addition, some Paris street markets and even brocante sales offer vintage and second-hand goods. The Paris Flea Market organises every weekend a great insider tour with a local guide who knows the history, the merchants and the best tricks to bargain and get the best price on what you’ll want to buy.
The Paris Flea Market is not easy to find, and once you there it often feels like a maze with many hidden treasures. For those who wants to enjoy the best parts of the market the easy and safe way, tours of the Paris Flea Market are planned every weekend. On those tours, you see the full range of the Flea Market, the guide is a local Parisian helps you to comfortably shop and explore all of it.
The word “flea market” is come from the French “marché aux puces”, which literally translates to “market of the fleas”, labelled as such because the items sold were previously owned and worn. The nouns “puces” designating all kinds of parasites have often been associated with the idea of poverty and dirt, even misery and filth.
The Parisian flea markets, known as “puces”, have their origins in the markets in the Middle Ages which took place in the center of the city, but the waste collectors, driven out of these places, settled outside Paris to form small constantly evolving markets, such as the market of the Patriarchs created around 1350.
In 1635, Richelieu forbade this salvage trade within the capital to favor trade in new objects. Small thrift and bric-a-brac markets where second-hand items are sold that are more accessible to the people are developing on the outskirts, particularly on the “fortifs from the 1840s which allowed merchants to set up shop without paying a toll.
In the time of the Emperor Napoleon III, the imperial architect Haussmann made plans for the broad, straight boulevards with rows of square houses in the center of Paris. The plans forced many dealers in second-hand goods to flee their old dwellings; the alleys and slums were demolished.
These dislodged merchants were, however, allowed to continue selling their wares undisturbed right in the north of Paris, just outside the former fort, in front of the gate Porte de Clignancourt. The first stalls were erected in about 1860. The gathering together of all these exiles from the slums of Paris was soon given the name “marché aux puces”.
The rag and bone men gathered outside the walls of Paris at the Porte de Clignancourt and set up temporary stalls where they hawked their wares. Eventually, they formed groups of stalls to attract more customers. The more enterprising traders began to ‘trade up’ in terms of goods and eventually it became popular for Parisian collectors and antique dealers to shop there for bargains.
In 1885, authorities in the town of Saint Ouen made a significant move to pave the streets and clean up the area, marking the official starting year of Les Puces. Several areas were designated as official market areas and a fee had to be paid to set up a stall there.
The markets grew until Monsieur Romain Vernaison transformed the acres he owned into a series of covered huts; et voilà, Marché Vernaison was born. An Albanian named Malik subsequently bought a restaurant on Rue Jules Vallès and transformed the building into 100 stalls, forming the Malik market.
The Marché du Biron was formed in 1925, with two long rows of stalls and is known as one of the more expensive markets. Biron was the first flea market in Saint-Ouen and also the first flea market to sell restored old objects. More chic therefore, frequented by all Paris of Fashion and the Arts, Biron will launch Primitive African Art. This same year 1925, by municipal decision, the Puces operate from Saturday to Monday. The merchants’ association has 120 members when the Puces round up 300 free Puciers around the Market.
In 1938, Amedeo Cesana, a Venetian merchant, in turn opened the Jules Vallès Market. In 1942, on land reserved for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, granted for life by Mr. Bourdin to Mr. Malik, the latter continued horticulture and subsequently created the Market which would bear his name in order to sell thrift and old clothes, while adding streetwear and sneakers, goods that today have taken over the old. In 1946, the Rosiers market, then stronghold of resourcefulness, emerged in a former garage.
At the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, the Flea Market supported 2,800 working people, excluding merchants, including 400 craftsmen living in Saint-Ouen or the surrounding area. The opening of the new markets, Cambo, Marché des Rosiers, Hall de la Brocante and Allée Verte, will increase the area occupied to 7 hectares. In 1977, Alain Serpette, son of Pucier, in turn opened a new Market: Serpette, Covered Market.
From 1985 to 1995, the regrouping of Puces near Porte de Clignancourt led to the disappearance of a few markets – the Hall de la Brocante located rue Lécuyer, the Allée Verte, Rue Jules Vallès and the “sheds” on rue Lécuyer. Two new markets opened in compensation: “Malassis” reserved for antique dealers and equipped with underground parking, was opened in 1989. And two years later, in 1991, the Dauphine Market accommodated 150 stands on two floors. in a structure à la Baltard.
In recent years there has been the development of ‘formal’ and ‘casual’ markets which divides a fixed-style market (formal) with long-term leases and a seasonal-style market with short-term leases. Consistently, there tends to be an emphasis on sustainable consumption whereby items such as used goods, collectibles, antiques and vintage clothing can be purchased.
Saint-Ouen flea market
The Saint-Ouen flea market designates both a district and a set of markets in the city of Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, on the edge of Paris. The various markets bring together nearly 2,000 merchants and extend over 7 hectares. The Paris Saint-Ouen flea market is located at a northern gate of Paris opposite the 18th arrondissement, it is held every Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
It is the largest art and antiquity market in the world, totaling more than 5 million visitors a year, including many foreign tourists and very often celebrities, and attendance peaking at 150,000 people on certain weekends, it is the fourth or fifth French tourist destination (after Euro-Disney, Notre Dame, Le Louvre, the Eiffel Tower).
The Paris Saint-Ouen flea market is the largest concentration of antique and bric-a-brac dealers in the world, They mainly offer antique items but also clothing and garage sale items. It’s an original experience of popular Paris, a walk rich in surprises and a gold mine for lovers of vintage pieces or antiques…
Seven hectares make up the entire Flea Market, which currently consists of twelve covered markets (Antica, Biron, Cambo, Dauphine, l’Entrepôt, Jules-Vallès, Malassis, le Passage, Paul Bert and Serpette, l’ Usine and Vernaison), five Pucières shopping streets (Rue Jules Vallès, Rue Lecuyer, Rue Paul Bert, Rue des Rosiers and Impasse Simon) and merchant unpacking on the sidewalks, each with its own identity, forming a whole quaint and friendly.
The fleas are mainly organized around the rue des Rosiers, the Porte de Clignancourt and the Porte de Montmartre. These three places correspond to the triptych that forms this activity and this district. The flea streets which include many shops and open-air markets, themselves specializing in antiques or clothing. These stands are mainly installed on the streets Jules-Vallès, Lécuyer, Marceau, Paul-Bert, Voltaire, and of course the avenue Michelet which concentrates an important linear of clothing shops; the Carré des Biffins, a solidarity sales space under the Porte-de-Montmartre bridge where the resale of salvaged objects is practiced, perpetuating the tradition of flea markets.
The fleas are the largest concentration of art dealers in the world (1100 antique dealers, second-hand dealers and art galleries), which earned them the nickname of “Attic of the World”, and one of the major tourist places of France, which contributes significantly to the reputation of Saint-Ouen, Paris, and the Country. It is a high place of Culture and History, also of transmission of know-how and knowledge, including in the field of crafts.
It is a multitude of craftsmen: cabinetmakers, bronziers, marble workers, glassmakers, restorers of ceramics, chandeliers, restorers of paintings etc. which ensure the maintenance and safeguard of the artistic heritage of France, which consequently also makes it possible to preserve the know-how of all these professions. It is estimated that 3,000 spin-off jobs depend on the Les Puces site (Artisans, multiple and varied suppliers, hotels, restaurants and bistros, etc.). Gastronomy also has its place at Les Puces where around forty establishments are there to welcome passing visitors.
At all times, the Puces have inspired great names in the arts and literature, including André Breton, Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau, Robert Doisneau, Pablo Picasso, César, Willy Ronis, Woodie Allen and Thomas Dutronc. The famous Goulue de Lautrec, who made the great days of the Moulin Rouge, lived at the Puces, as did Charles Aznavour, whose parents had a shop.
Porte de Vanves flea market
The Porte de Vanves flea market is the only intramural flea market in Paris. It is held outdoors on Saturday and Sunday in avenue Marc-Sangnier (until 1 p.m.) and avenue Georges-Lafenestre (until 5 p.m.) in the 14th arrondissement of Paris bordering from the southern ring road. Sometimes called the ” Porte Didot flea market “, this market appeared in 1905 and has around four hundred non-sedentary merchants.
The Porte de Vanves flea market offer for sale furniture and objects from the 1900s, Art Deco, from the 1950s and 1970s, curiosities, popular art, old clothes and textiles, lace, craft furniture, tableware, glassware, silverware, classic and costume jewellery, arts of Africa and the Orient, chandeliers and lamps, paintings and engravings, bathroom objects, cameras and phonographs, militaria, garden furniture, rattan, books and magazines, vinyl records. The unpacking of goods is still traditionally done there “at the back of the truck”.
Porte de Montreuil flea market
The Porte de Montreuil flea market, also known as the Montreuil flea market, is held on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays on avenue du Professor-André-Lemierre in Paris 20 th, near Porte de Montreuil but outside the boulevard ring road, on the edge of the town of Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis).
It is one of the oldest flea markets in Paris since it has existed since 1860. In 1885, an order from the prefect Eugène Poubelle prohibited the dumping of rubbish at the doors of buildings in Paris. The ragpickers will therefore settle on the outskirts of town, on the Zone, a strip of Non ædificandi land 250 meters wide around the enclosure of Thiers, the forts built in 1844.