Marché aux Puce de St-Ouen

Nothing better to get you in the mood for some treasure hunting than a 25 minute taxi ride provided by a groovy elderly French women, hurtling us nonplussed by pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, street barricades and the like, while humming schizophrenic versions of Serge Gainsbourg, interspersed with fragmented English staccato-like sentences thrown in our direction, all the while staring suspiciously back through the rear view mirror. “La, la, la… merde… la, la. Sacre ----, la, la, belle day oui? (horn blaring), la, la.” At first very charming, by the end of the ride, just kind of freaky. After dismissing us about two blocks from the actually market “you get out now, oui?,” she kept an extra 5 euro tip “change okay, oui?,” and roared off down the road “…la, la, la”, horn blaring, local scattering, barely escaping her path.

One thing you need to know, the actual good part of the market is surrounded by the usual chaotic, mostly garbage, kitschy trinkets that you find all over the world. Don’t get me wrong; if you want a ten-dollar Eifel Tower sweatshirt that says I love Paris and a pair of two-
dollar matching socks (all made in Paris, China), Marché Malik is for you.

Passing through this madness brings you to the authentic Marché aux Puce. This area is actually comprised of several distinctive markets, each with its own personality and style. Our favorite markets are Marché Vernaison (jewelry, fabric, lamps, furnishings), and Marché Paul Bert (furniture, taxidermy, architectural accents). The same vendors have occupied some of the market stalls for decades, even generations. The scale and scope of the entire Marche aux Puce is initially overwhelming, but actually quite manageable in one to two days. I could tell you my favorite shops, but then I would have to kill you – just kidding. There are too many great places to list, but be sure, there is something for everyone, and even my husband’s heart starts to palpitate when we get near Marché Paul Bert.

Helpful hints:

Bring comfortable shoes; this market is huge. For you fellow retailers, imagine the entire Americasmart all on one level.
There are several good places to eat on Rue des Rosier. Skip Chez Louisette at the end of the Vernaison market (unless you are dying to eat to endless Edith Piaf renditions), and try Café Voltaire (92, rue des Rosiers) or Napoli Sarl Gemma (136, rue des Rosiers).
Some of the more exclusive vendors will take credit cards, but bring cash for the best deals.
Most vendors will assist you with shipping to the USA.

1 comment:

Gigi said...

You have me wanting (needing) so many of the treasures you are picturing! Wonderful stuff, and I love that you are including all these helpful hints.