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Published January 12th 2013
Bargain hunting or tracking down antiques, what a surprise
If you're looking for treasures or sorting through antiques is your thing, you will love the flea markets on the outskirts of Paris.
Wander through the markets - treasure hunting
Famed to be the largest flea market in the world, we headed off to Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.
We were surprised to discover that although a somewhat long walk, it is actually still walking distance to the market from where we were staying in Montmartre.
Gorgeous old French colonial buildings
Upon arrival, you will come across sellers with old blankets and many, many trinkets that they are wanting to clear. This is where you will find old shoes, antique jewellery and computer components at bargain prices.
My daughter purchased a beautiful red crystal necklace which may well be just junk, however it's quite possible that it is actually some rare piece of jewellery long forgotten from an ancient royal trinket box.
However this is only the tip of the iceberg with the real delights awaiting beyond.
Venture further and you will discover laneways, antique houses and beautiful little restored buildings all filled to the brim with great items.
Live music, great food
To make it a little easier for the shopper, it is divided into sections; there are sections for antiques, sections for clothing and sections for knick-knacks.
It is said to have over 3500 individual sellers and stores.
There are some very sweet cafes and restaurants as well, so you really can come for the entire day.
We discovered some small dolls which looked a lot like a different form of the Barbie dolls our girls love. However we were astonished to find that the asking price was nearly 2000 Euros each as they were some very rare form of an ancient French collectors dolls and certainly not Barbies.
Something for everyone
A brief history of the market:
After 1870, the Paris people, known as rag and bone men, moved outside of the city limits for hygiene reasons.
They settled in this area where every Sunday they would lay out there wares on the ground for shoppers to choose from.
It is called a flea market as often the old aristocratic clothing was discarded here and it was riddled with fleas.
In 1908 this popular area became available by the Metro, making it even more accessible.
In the 1920s, the market dealers began to move into enclosed stalls and the gypsies would work as guitar players in this market creating Afro American music and inventing manouche jazz, which is since been closely associated to the markets identity.
After 1945 the rag and bone men were replaced by brocanteurs, the name given to secondhand furniture dealers along with the antique and clothes dealers.
Since this time, many new sellers have arrived and sell brand name labels and antique clothing each with their own identity and style - from furniture to Art Deco and all sorts of trinkets.
The covered markets are broken into sections of antiques, clothing and markets for professionals.
The Flea market is open on
Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM
Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM and
Monday 11 AM to 5 PM
You can access it by public transport on the Metro at Porte de Clignancourt - Line 4. Or Garibaldi - Line 13. Exit the underground metro and orient yourself. There is a McDonalds across the street and you should look for this sign immediately - "Les Puces" which means "The Fleas." By bus you can take a number 56, 60,85,95,137,166,255,341.