Shopping Les Puces in Paris is enough reason for me to hop on a plane to Paris, and this trip I hit up both Porte de Vanves and Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (and successfully so I might add). While Porte de Vanves is a bargain-hunter's mecca for wares easily packed in luggage (smalls, linens and artwork), Les Puces de Saint-Ouen is a sprawling design mecca with inventive re-purposed goods (which means, generally more expensive). Beware, a trip to Saint-Ouen is likely to result in hiring a shipper to transport your over-sized treasures back home.
My first shopping stop in Paris is always the Porte de Vanves flea market, which is held every Saturday and Sunday near the Porte de Vanves metro stop. I prefer to fly into Paris either Friday or Saturday, so that I can leverage my jet lag to arrive at the brocante the next morning at an ungodly hour. Since Les Puces de Saint-Ouen is open on Monday, I save this Puce for after I have done my damage at Porte de Vanves. Plus, the vendors are more willing to bargain (more than the obligatory 5-10% discount) on Monday because Monday is "their Sunday" and the stalls are relatively quiet. The downside of this strategy is that many of the vendors are closed on Monday, but, hey, c'est la vie (plus, if I had any success on Saturday or Sunday, I have less money to spend by Monday anyways)!
I put together this little loot shoot for you to share in the success of my brocantes adventures from this trip.
My loot this time around was focused on paintings, maps and religious artifacts (oh, how I love broken religion artifacts...both beautiful and a political statement about the state of modern religion). The terrible wig on this oil pastel stopped me in my tracks, and for a mere 30Euros, it was mine!
I fell in love with this stately pig at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. There's just something about the juxtaposition of the antique gilded frame against the kitschy painting.
The carvings on this wooden holy water crucifix are divine, and the mother of pearl in-laid cross and seashell basin were just too beautiful for me to pass.
I love a vintage map, and this cloth book unfolds to a road map of the Paris area. It was love at first site. I only wish I would have purchased the other road maps! The wooden rosary from Lourdes will decorate one of my statutes at home.
Brocantes Shopping Tips
- If you're hitting Les Puces de Saint-Ouent, strategize your plan of attack beforehand. This is a massive market (the largest in the world) with alleys of different types of goods, so look at a map beforehand. Here's a good map and description of the various markets at this Puce.
- Go in the morning as it becomes very crowded in the afternoon, and the French like to close for lunch and pack-up early.
- Don't bother bringing your passport because antiques don't have VAT refunds.
- Bring plenty of cash and only one or two essential credit cards because most vendors don't take credit cards.
- When negotiating, the French will generally go down by 20%, but be careful not to offend the vendor with too low of an offer. The French will walk away if you insult them. Ask "le meillieur prix" for the vendor's best offer.
- If you're planning on going "big", contact a shipper, such as Hedley's Humpers, beforehand. The shipper will pick up your goods for shipment.
Photos by Brooklyn Boheme.