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Melissa Biggs Bradley’s Paris Flea Market Update

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One of my favorite weekend activities in Paris is heading to the flea market at St. Ouen, or Clignancourt. (There is a smaller one at Porte de Vanves, but the larger and more comprehensive one is in the north of the city.) Arguably the world’s most famous flea market, this Marché aux Puces covers more than six hectares, or close to 17 acres, and is crammed with nearly 3,000 dealers. Fourteen smaller markets make up the whole market, and each has a particular identity. (Biron, for formal antiques; Dauphine, for bric-a-brac and LPs.) My most successful visits to the market have been when I’ve relied on one of our expert guides and focused on a single theme for the visit (country furniture or mid-century modern furniture, for example). There are literally hundreds of dealers so narrow your list to avoid overwhelm.

Where to Find Vintage Fashion at Marché aux Puces

On my most recent visit, we decided to focus on hunting for vintage fashion and accessories in the markets that house some of the most polished dealers at Ouen: Paul Bert and Serpette. My expert guide steered me first to the stalls of Olwen Forest, a former English actress and model, who is a collector of Art Deco jewelry. Her display cases brim with the costume creations of legendary designers like Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Miriam Haskell. But she has also amassed iconic pieces by Eugene Joseff, who created jewelry for Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s. One case reveals her own mini-museum of pieces worn by stars such as Elizabeth Taylor next to images of them worn on screen. Lenny Kravitz is a longtime customer, as are the fashion houses and American rap musicians who love her stage-worthy antique chains and cuffs. Vintage luggage lovers will find a treasure trove of leather trunks from Vuitton and Goyard as well as Hermès Birkin bags in great condition at Des Voyages, just down from Olwen Forest’s stalls. Des Voyages’ owner knows the provenance of each piece of luggage and often, he also knows the colorful travel histories of their previous owners. Stéphanie Roudil Corvez collects 20th century jewelry and exhibits her finds just around the corner from Des Voyages. She buys what she loves, which may be an antique diamond brooch, a signed Van Cleef Art Deco ring or contemporary jewelry by a young Parisian who works in brass. Her eye is great and so are her prices. For vintage fashion worthy to be packed in Vuitton trunks, the two best dealers are Les Merveilles de Babellou, where Pucci pantsuits and Dior gowns are exhibited with stylish flair. Don’t be surprised to see women, inspired by nostalgia or fantasy, playing dress up with feather boas, fur coats and flamboyant hats. Chanel, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Guy Laroche, Emmanuel Ungaro, Lanvin, Gucci—all the great names and periods are represented here and at the vast warehouse called Chez Sarah, which is not far from here. To navigate the abundance of the flea market and get help with negotiating and shipping, contact our team who can connect you with a flea market expert for the day.

Tip: Since Ma Cocotte, the go-to brunch spot designed by Philippe Starck, was closed, we headed over to the new Mob hotel where there is a lively dining room and delicious wood-fired pizzas. As the area gentrifies in advance of the 2024 Paris Olympics, this is sure to be just the first of many new additions to the area.

Directory

Olwen Forest: Marché Serpette, Allee 3, Stands 5 and 7; +33 1-40-11-96-38

Des Voyages: Marché Serpette, Stand 10, Allée 3, 110 Rue Rosiers; +33 6-07-49-68-10

Stéphanie Roudil-Corvez: Stand 23, Allée 3. Paul Bert; +33 6-83-83-08-57

Les Merveilles de Babellou: Stand 13 and 77, Allée 1, Paul Bert;

Chez Sarah: 18 Rue Jules Valle; +33 6-08-01-80-89

Related: The Big Fashion News in Paris this Spring: Dior’s Flagship Reopens

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning responsible and meaningful travels to Paris and other destinations—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the hotels and experiences that are right for you and provide information on travel safety policies and more.

– Melissa Biggs Bradley on April 22, 2022

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