The Saint-Ouen Flea Market is one spot in Paris that earns this magical city its reputation as a center of the antiques world. If you have time to spare, you need to wander over to the Porte de Clignancourt where browsing for antiques has never been so cool!
If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere. That’s what they say about the Saint-Ouen Flea Market. Whether it’s an 18th-century boudoir, ceramics, Art Deco, a Napoleon III occasional table, porcelain, castle ironwork, or fine Calais lace that interests you, welcome to bric-a-brac heaven! Saint-Ouen is one of the biggest antiques markets in the world, and, alongside Montreuil, one of the oldest in Paris. It has never stopped growing since it was founded in 1884 by a group of market traders who, after being forced out of Paris, set their wares out on the ground in that spot. Today, it’s simply known as les puces (the flea market) or the art superstore. St. Ouen is now home to 15 antiques markets covering an area of seven hectares and a total of 1,700 traders, including 1,400 antiques dealers.
With its maze of narrow backstreets and tiny shops, les puces resembles an open-air museum. If you want to visit the 1920s and the origins of the market, head to Vernaison, where Romain Vernaison opened the first market. Wander up and down its narrow alleys, breathe in the smells of yesteryear, touch the pearls and velvet, and don’t forget to cast your eye over the piles of old photographs. Incidentally, Woody Allen chose Vernaison as the backdrop for his film Midnight in Paris.
Carry on to the crown jewel of the area, the Paul Bert Serpette. This is the most prestigious of the markets. Its stalls were built on an old vineyard and it was, up until recently, the property of the sixth Duke of Westminster. Bert became famous for its avant-garde tendencies during the 1970s; Serpette owes its fame to the hundreds of antique dealers with their exquisite pieces. It could be called the VIP quarter of the market, where celebrities and the wealthy come to browse in a serene atmosphere, hoping to unearth something truly special, so keep your eyes wide open!
A bit further down you find yourself among the backstreets of Biron, where you peak at Napoleon tables; Cambo, if you’re looking for 20th century furniture; or L’Entrepôt, with its larger pieces (staircases, castle ironwork, and so on). Saint-Ouen is one of the most popular antiques centers in Paris and also one of the busiest.
Opening times: Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Monday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Métro: Garibaldi station (line 13) or Porte de Clignancourt station (line 4)