WHERE TO FIND WHAT
WHO ever thought you’d need a guide to a flea market? But then, who ever thought the Paris rag and bone market would eventually cover acres of ground, have its own website, a tourism office, ATMs and a bureau de change?
1) Try visiting St-Ouen early on Friday, which is dealers’ day. Paul-Bert, Serpette and Jules Valles open at 7am; some others open around 9.30am. They all close between 11.30am and noon. Because not all markets open on Friday . . . there are few tourists . . . the atmosphere is relaxed and traders are sometimes more amenable to bargaining. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday the hours are 10.30am to 5.00pm in winter and possibly up to 6.00pm in summer. Get there early.
2) Know which markets to visit (see guide below).
3) Try to establish a friendly rapport with the dealer as you bargain.
4) Don’t come in too low on the price or you risk being dismissed as ‘not serious’. Begin by offering around a third less than asked.
5) Don’t arrive with a cluster of companions. This is also considered ‘not serious’. Even if you come with a group, split up and meet later.
WHAT’S WHERE IN LES PUCES
Paul-Bert and Serpette are neighbouring markets much frequented by antique dealers along with celebrities and their decorators. Serpette is known for paintings of all eras and for high quality 19th and 20th century furniture. In Paul-Bert you can discover just about anything at all, sold ‘as is’, that is pre-restoration. One of its dealers, Marc Maison, specialises in architectural elements, which are particularly sought after by decorators.
Paul-Bert is also where the dealer ‘Bachelier’ displays an Aladdin’s cave of copper pots and pans.
Vernaison is the original and still the most picturesque market. Its thoroughly varied offerings are more ‘secondhand’ than antique.
Jules Vales: most of its clients are other dealers, antique and second-hand shop owners. It sells everything from 20th century ceramics to antique furniture.
Biron offers traditionally the highest quality, and prices, at St-Ouen. Dealers and decorators come for 18th and 19th century mirrors, chandeliers and furniture, art nouveau and 20th century furniture, particularly that of the 1940s.
Rosiers is a small market dealing in 20th century furniture and objets d’art. It appeals principally to collectors.
Malassis is installed in a building inspired by the ocean liners of 1930s. You will find a bit of everything here, usually restored. There are two floors of objects dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries at prices ranging from a few hundred euro to a few thousand.
Dauphine specialises in books, paintings and engravings and antique linen.
Antica is known for its restored 18th and 19th century furniture, sold at reasonable prices ( 1,500 euro for a 19th century chest of drawers). It also has bronzes, Chinese objects and Art Deco.
Cambo features high quality 18th and 19th century furniture, with a cheerful mixture of the less costly.
ST-OUEN FLEA MARKET In addition to the dealers, there are 20 bistros and restaurants. The flea market information welcome centre is at 7 Impasse Simon.
Originally published in the Sunday Tribune« Back