The Marché aux Puces of Paris Saint Ouen

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In my time, I have read far too many articles about the Marché aux Puces of Saint Ouen that contain plenty of mistaken information: how to buy, how to negotiate, the market’s hours, etc…

I have been been a shopping consultant for the marché for the past ten years, and I specifically specialize in the Marché aux Puces of Paris Saint Ouen. Spending three weekends a month at the market – which is the only one of its scale in the world – I advise client who wish to furnish and decorate their homes with pieces ranging from 17th century to the design-oriented 1950’s. One can buy anything at the Puces, from parquet to sconces and chandeliers.

Some clarifications:

The Market’s History

The market officially dates back to 1885-1890. It is divided into 15 markets, approximately 1,500 stands, galleries, and boutiques. It is the largest market of antique, design, and vintage items in the world, with an impressive variety of merchandise that ranges from the 16th century to the mid-20th century.

The Official Name of the Market

Unfortunately – yet logically – whenever journalists write about the market, they translate the market’s name as “the flea market of Paris Saint-Ouen.” This is a miscommunication. For English-speaking people, “flea markets” are understood to be fairs selling inexpensive second-hand goods – not celebrated, culturally rich antiques markets such as the Saint Ouen. Because of this linguistic difference, it is preferable to keep the market’s French name: “the Marché aux Puces of Paris Saint-Ouen.”

The Hours of the Market

- Friday morning (7am to 12pm) is a half-day reserved for professionals and decorators. I advise potential buyers to go around 9am in order to find as many stands open as possible. Note: vendors are not obligated to open their boutiques on Fridays.
- On Saturdays, the market is officially open from 9am to 6pm, but I advice visitors to go around 10-10:30am in order to ensure that the maximum number of boutiques are open.
- On Sunays, the market is officially open from 10am to 6pm. As with Saturdays, I advise clients to go around 10:45-11am, for the same reasons.
- The market is aso open on Mondays from 11am-5pm. It is prudent to go between noon and 4pm to visit the maximum number of boutiques possible.

How to get Organized – and Find the Furniture or Objets d’Art of Your Dreams
Imagine a supermarket with dozens of departments in which all the merchandise is shelved without much regard for type. Now imagine that there are no signs. 

If you are looking for something in particular, either allow yourself lots of time or find an expert. Since I have made it my business to know the Puces very well and have been observing its rapid evolution over the past decade, I know where to find specific objects — which happily (for me and for my customers) makes my services all the more useful.

 

Check back in for my next article, in which I will discuss negotiation of prices and the definition of an exportation price.