If you hear a design lover talk about “The Paris Flea Market”, there’s a very good chance they’re talking about Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.
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Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is also sometimes called simply Les Puces or Marche aux Puces, is not only the largest flea market in Paris, it’s one of the most famous and visited flea markets in the world. It’s definitely the very best flea market I’ve ever been to (even better than my favorite stateside flea market, Brimfield).
If you’re thinking about going to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, here’s an overview of what you’ll find, how to get there, tips, and more.
First things first: This is not your average Saturday-morning-in-a-field flea market. Les Puces is more like a very old outdoor shopping mall – each vendor has a permanent stall that’s either covered or completely inside.
What is Les Puces de Saint-Ouen
The Paris Flea Market is a magical, wonderful place where all the beautiful old things go to be displayed artfully by chic French collectors and proprietors.
More practically speaking, it’s a huge market (almost like a little village in itself) that’s open from Saturday-Monday, with various buildings and stalls that are rented by individual vendors. In fact, Les Puces is actually 14 markets in 1 (sort of like the fields at Brimfield!) and each market has a slightly different vibe. Some markets are even dedicated to a specialty like clothing or cater only to dealers.
Les Puces is truly massive, and if you’re only there for a day, you won’t even make a dent in it, so it’s a good idea to check out a map to see where you might want to start. You can also research each individual market, since there are some you may want to cross of your list right away due to price point or what the market offers.
My husband and I were fairly casual about our experience and when we walked in and realized how incredibly large the market was, we simply started where we were at, which was Biron Market. This is a fine strategy, too, if you’re a more casual shopper, like we were. After spending 3-4 hours at the Paris Flea Market, we’d gone in maybe 20 shops.
The vendors range in both style and price point. Antiques are definitely the most popular item at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but you’ll also find stalls that sell clothing, art, jewelry and collectibles, too. Many sell pristine antique furniture that’s hundreds of years old, but others sell more vintage-style pieces or a mix of contemporary and antique art, for example.
When I went, I remember stepping into a booth where a gorgeous antique armoire was going for around $40,000. However, I also managed to find affordable artwork and a few accent pieces that I was able to take home for under $100, including original artwork that I hung in my son’s nursery, below.
Overall, many of the items are expensive, since lots of the market’s clientele are collectors, designers, and shop-owners from around the world who are coming to find one-of-a-kind, exquisite items. Paul Bert-Serpette, Biron, and Cambo are known to be among the more expensive markets.
Getting to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen
I remember the first time I visited Paris with my husband and I wanted to visit The Paris Flea Market I’d heard all about. I has assumed, for some reason, that it would be right smack in the middle of the Fifth Arrondissement, but that was not at all the case.
The Paris Flea Market is toward the outskirts of the city in the 18th Arrondissement. We ended up simply taking the subway and then walking to get there, but you can also easily use Uber or G7/taxi.
To get to the Paris Flea Market by train, you take Line 4 to the Porte de Clignancourt stop, and the entrance is a quick 5 minute walk away.
Tips for Visiting Les Puces
Most vendors take some form of digital or credit payment, but not all do. The last time I was there, which, granted, was in 2015, I had to run out of the market and across the street to an ATM machine.
It’s also easier to negotiate when you have cash! Which brings me to my next point.
Negotiating is both tolerated and expected at the Paris Flea Market, so don’t be afraid to ask for a reasonable discount (I found 10% to be reasonable).
Like I said, I didn’t have a plan when I went. It worked out fine, but if I were to go back I’d research the markets a bit more, and plan out where to start and what to skip in order to maximize my time.
Also, while you’re planning, plan to do a lot of walking. You’ll be on your feet for a few hours at least.
Think about how you’ll get things back.
The good news is, if you find something you love at Les Puces, there’s a way to get it home. The markets offer shipping services for larger pieces.
However, because I didn’t want to deal with shipping costs, I only purchased small items when I visited Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. Every vendor I purchased from wrapped up the items (they must of known I was a tourist, I wonder how?), and I was able to carry my items onto my flight in a shopping bag.
Visit Sacre Couer After.
Okay this is a specific and random tip, but if you’re going to be all the way out in the 18th Arrond. and Clignancourt area, check out Sacre Couer, or The Basillica of the Sacred Heart after, preferably around sunset, when locals and tourists alike gather on the steps to watch the sunset over the city. If you make it there early enough, you can take a peek inside, but the exterior is just as beautiful.