When is a Flea Market not a flea market? When it is 15 acres in size and sells things that are in the tens of thousands of dollars!
In May my husband and I went to France. We had been there before but it was many years ago. This time one of the places I had on my list was the St. Ouen Flea Market in the northern part of Paris, north of Montmartre.
Thankfully our hotel wasn’t too far away (it took us about 45 minutes to walk) because the Metro was apparently on a rotating work strike and some of the stations were closed.
I didn’t have any particular expectations of this market. I knew this was one of the oldest, if not the oldest market because it started unofficially shortly after 1870. But I knew it was supposed to be the largest antique market in the world.
Can you imagine 7 hectares or 15 acres of antiques?
There are 16, count ’em – 16, markets overall. More than 5 million people visit each year – and this is a weekend flea market.
There are “stalls” for Asian art, 17th, 18th and 19th century art, furniture and accessories, special book and paper antique markets, furniture for film sets, trendy articles, collections from all over the globe, retro and modern furniture, Art Deco – you name it. And around all of these more impressive areas are uncovered stalls that sell knockoffs of everything in the way of clothes, jewellery, and so on. It absolutely boggles the mind.
So how are the prices? Well let’s just say if you have to ask you can’t afford it.
For those things that were marked with prices they seemed to be somewhat reasonable to expensive. One woman had a huge table – probably 8 by 8 ft with costume jewellery of every kind all for 5 Euros per piece. That’s the flea market most of us know.
What did I buy? Well, it’s amazing how having only two small pieces of carry-on luggage takes the choice of what to buy out of your hands. I bought a 1880’s lithograph of the Jardins des Plantes in Paris (bargained the dealer from 50 to 40 Euros or approx. $53 ) because it was light weight and could be rolled up.
I also bought some wonderful patterns for fabrics? Walls? Who knows, exactly?They had been designed in the 1920’s and were hand drawn on a velum / paper material. I’m not sure how I will use them but they are beautiful. I got six different patterned sheets for 15 euros (approx $18.)
There are some wonderful places to eat at the market and food is served like only the French can do. DEE -LI-CIOUS! Advice if you go? Forget about the hawkers of goods on the streets outside the market area. They can be very insistent. Bring good shoes, a small knapsack (so you won’t look too much like you’re there to lift things), bottled water and toilet paper (in case). And bring your camera. And just go.