Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (Clignancourt Market)

Les Puces de Saint-OuenLes Puces de Saint-Ouen, or Cligancourt Market, is one of the largest flea and antiuque markets in the world. Covering nearly seven hectares, ‘Les Puces’ as Parisians know them, are actually a collection of markets, totalling nearly three thousand stalls in all. These are the premiere markets in Paris, buyers and sellers take their deals and wares very seriously. If you do to, speaking French, however basic, is a must. Great bargains can be found here, or you can just spend a day soaking up the atmosphere, well over a hundred and fifty thousand people flock to these markets every weekend, the stall holders must be doing something right.

The main access into the markets is via Porte de Cligancourt Metro station. From here just follow the crowds down streets filled with goods from Africa, clothing sellers and household goods. There is a lot more here than just antiques, although it is vintage goods that attract the crowds. Maps are available online and at tourist information centres to help you navigate your way through the thousands of stalls here.

Head along the Rue des Rosiers and you’ll come across some of many markets that make up Les Puces. Here are some of the best:
Marché Vernaison, a vast market following winding alleyways that is very easy to lose yourself in. At Vernasion you’ll be able to find anything, from beads to clothing, to spare parts for vintage engines and art-deco kitchen pieces. The Marché Biron, has an almost exclusive focus on antique furniture, you’re not going to get a Louis XVI desk for pennies however, and while the selection is vast it is more expensive. Marché Dauphine is one of the more recent additions to Les Puce, it is rather large and contains an incredible diversity of goods. Clothes, both contemporary and vintage, prints, paper, rugs, and pot-plants can all be found here. Another vote in its favour as a market for newcomers to Les Puce, it the crêpe stall out the front, not to mention a cafe and restaurant out the back.

Marché Serpette, Marché Paul Bert and Marché Jules Vallés all run into each other, and contain a great diversity of goods, but are for the more serious buyer. Starting with Marché Serpette, you’ll find vintage clothing, household goods, art-deco furniture, mirrors and so forth. Just keep wandering and when you find yourself amongst a plethora of furniture sellers, who seem to have a great deal of items from the ’50s and ’60s, you’re probably in Marché Paul Bert. Here you’ll find great funiture and print dealers, bargins are available but nothing could be considered cheap. If you’ve ever wondered where you can buy things like staircases, columns, fireplaces…maybe an entire wall, pop into L’Entrepot (next door to Marché Paul Bert), and lo and behold you could become the next proud owner of a rather large marble staircase, don’t forget to ask about delivery!

Finally, you’ll wander out the back of Marché Paul Bert and into Marché Jules Vallés. This is a much smaller market, and is also very traditional. Members of the public are more than welcome to browse on weekends, but unless you are very serious about buying here don’t try and attempt it. The traders here love their market, and will often indulge a passing tourist in a history lesson about their business. Because of its small size, only about a hundred stalls, is does feel far more welcoming than others, its feels more like wandering about someones large attic than a market.

Cligancourt Market, or Les Puces, what-ever you wish to call it makes a great weekend diversion in Paris. Walking shoes are a must, and be on the look out for pickpockets (who are always a figure in large markets everywhere), it will get very busy, so if you are serious about picking up a bargin or buying larger items like furniture, get there early. The Markets open on Saturday morning at 9am, and most stall-holders will start packing up around 5pm, on Sundays, the market opens an hour later and again most sellers start closing at 5pm. There is great discussion amongst bargain hunters about Monday markets time. I’ve been to Les Puces and got some great deals, arriving rather early at 8am, but then I was told to return at that time by the stall holder. Officially, there is a market on a Monday from 11am -5pm, but I’ve never seen a stall open after lunch. Generally speaking, brace the crowds and head there on the weekends.

image credit: linkef

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