First-time travelers to Paris are always urged to visit the famed flea market–and for most that means the Puces Saint-Ouen with its permanent halls, stands and stalls filled with an overwhelming variety of covetable goods. My first visits to Saint-Ouen (also known as Clignancourt) were just about learning to navigate the rather grotty route from the Clignancourt metro station (end of #4 line) to rue des Rosiers, where the good stuff can finally be found.
I’ve returned several times to Saint-Ouen, awed, envious and inspired with every visit. Some of the permanent stands are amazing in terms of their displays and no matter what your interest–jewelry, fabrics, lighting, mirrors, seating and more, more, more–there’s always so much to discover. I know Grace returned several times to a vintage jewelry dealer, who specializes in costume jewelry from the 1950s, and has a few smaller chandeliers she found from another dealer now installed throughout her house. Deb is partial to a few dealers where she’s priced vintage posters, another where she scooped up a few original Van Cleef & Arpels gouaches, and yet another where she looks for vintage decorating books and illustrations. But me? I never bought a thing. It was all a little bit too pricy for the things I fell in love with and well, it just didn’t feel like a real flea market. Too settled, too permanent.
From Deb: There are several favorite textile booths at Clignacourt that I always make a stop at. We’ll share more stops with you in your travel packet and on our webinar.
Instead I started spending my early mornings discovering some of the many fabulous food markets to be found within walking distance of my Left Bank hotels. There’s the Marché Rue de Buci, open daily starting at about 7:00 am and winding down around 2:00 pm. For our September 2o23 trip, if you only visit one open-air food market, this should be the one, as it’s only a 5 minute walk from our hotel!
The next market I explored was Marché Mouffetard, a bit of a longer walk, as it’s over in the 5th (metro Censier-Daubenton) It’s open every day except Monday and weekend mornings are especially lively as the many bakeries and cafés that line the street service both the vendors and their visitors.
If you’re at Mouffetard on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, just a bit of extra walking will get you to Marché Place Monge. This is a smaller market than most of the others, but if you’re in the area, why not stop? From Place Monge, it’s not far but a bit of a wandering route to get back to the Luxembourg B station for the train up to the show.
Back in the 6th, try Marché Bd Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi and rue des Rennes. It’s open Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, with Sunday being a “bio” market, and if you can ID any French celebrities, this Sunday market is supposedly a celebrity draw. Also, famed French bakery Poliâne is nearby at 8 rue Cherche-Midi, and yes, it’s open on Sunday mornings.
If you’re up for a slightly longer walk in the morning before heading to the show, try taking the Pont Neuf and keep going straight all the way through the pedestrian mall of Les Halles. On the other side of Les Halles is the Marché Montorgueil, open Tuesday-Saturday 8am-1 pm and Sunday 9 am – 1 pm. Bonus points for stopping at 51 rue Montorgueil, Pâtisserie Stohrer, to pick up a lovely treat to have with your afternoon café! Then backtrack to Les Halles to pick up the B train to Parc des Expositions.
Finally, I suggest a trip to the Marché d’Aligre, over in the 12th. There’s no super easy way to get there from our hotel (my suggestion: walk to Metro Hotel de Ville, take the 1 to Bastille, transfer at Bastille to Ledru Rollin and walk the few blocks from there) but it has a old covered market, plus over a mile of food vendors as well as a rather tatty flea market set up right in Place d’Aligre.
But for me, in the winter time, the best part of a trip to Marché d’Aligre is a crisp vin blanc and plate of incredibly fresh-from-the-Atlantic-earlier-that-morning huîtres (oysters) at the hugely popular bar au vin Baron Rouge. I “heart” oysters! (Oh, and I could do a whole other post on just the some of the few bars au vin I managed to find!)
There are several other marchés in all different arrondissments, so if you’re off exploring other neighborhoods, check out this handy list.
Why make the extra effort to hit one of these markets before the start of our day? Because when you pull out your petit baguette or brioche, your wonderful fromage, a lovely piece of fruit and perhaps a bit of sausage or a delicious pastry at the show, you’re having a tastier meal than you’d be able to purchase up there, as well as experiencing just another little bit of Paris!