The two different sides of the Flea Market in Paris

Around the bustling area of  Porte de Clinangcourt, 18ème, we can find a big market with more than 2,500 shops, even though it seems quiet during the week, it welcomes more than 100,000 visitors every weekend. It is called Marché aux Puces by the local Parisians.

The flea market emerged in the nineteenth century as a result of the ban on working in Paris to ragpickers and second-hand dealers, who decided to settle at the gates of the city. Gradually the market situation in the town of St. Ouen began to regulate and it was in the early twentieth century that it became fashionable to publish in the newspapers of that period stating that in the midst of so many trinkets you could find exceptional pieces.

At first sight, it could seem a suspicious place as you mostly find dubious people trying to sell you illegal products and shops selling sneakers which are generally fake. You also find shops with very tacky clothes.

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You can keep walking by shop after shop like that but only if you are a good observer and you look closely, you can enter a totally different and magical world. In between the shops you can find a gate to an indoor market plenty of antiques and vintage shops and you just think you are in a totally different place -even the sellers look different-. You can find anything from vintage clothes, to old photos and books and charming antique furniture. Once you enter this second market, you change from the noise and the crowd to a quiet and bohemian place.

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When I first got inside, I started feeling like a child in Disneyland. I could spend hours looking at all those old photos. And finally I found those shops selling vintage clothes which I didn’t imagine to be so nice. You can find many of them and they have very good prices.

I heard before about the many vintage shops you can find in Paris, but they turn out to be expensive. However, nobody told me about any one placed in the flea market.

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Of all the vintage shops there was this one, “Village Vintage” where I spent almost one hour trying clothes on. You can find a huge variety of any kind of garment: coats, leather jackets, Levi’s shorts, shirts, fringed jackets, etc. They have some shop assistants who would help me to find what I was looking for.

Then, another person came to me telling me that if I went further I would find more stands with the same kind of clothes. I couldn’t resist to explore the area so I found some more of them, also with good prices, where I totally recommend you to go.

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Then, if you have time this weekend it could be a good plan to go to this market, which is one of the emblems of Paris, and have the opportunity to find some treasure for a reasonable price, in a special atmosphere. However, just a piece of advice: be careful with the pickpockets.

Written by Natalia Sanchez.