When it comes to shopping, the City Of Light needs no introduction. Synonymous with style, the metropolis has no dearth of couture houses and trendy concept stores. But if you’re more of a hand-on shopper, always ready to put your bargaining skills to the test, we suggest you take to the streets. From bizarre bazaars to deluxe food markets, here are six Parisian shopping experiences that you just must have.
Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
While it doesn’t exactly fall into the chaotic, rough-around- the-edges, outdoorsy affair that street markets are usually made of, the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is worth a visit for its sheer scale. Said to be the world’s largest flea market, the seven-hectare property hosts close to 2 lakh visitors every weekend. What began as a shantytown in 1885, has since organised itself into a series of villages with a mix of enclosed boutiques and open-air stalls. Rising rents in recent times has turned the Puces into more of a window shopping experience for many. It’s still worth a stroll through, for the unique ware and their chatty sellers alike. Expect the unexpected in everything from toys, books and vintage cameras to furniture, kitchenware and fashion. Don’t miss the alfresco Marché Paul Bert with its stunning 19th- and 20th-century furniture. For a good bargain, head to Marché Lecuyer, which is the home of house-clearance specialists.
Open Sat-Mon, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5:30pm. marcheauxpuces-saintouen.com
Les Puces de Montreuil
Off most tourist bucket lists, Les Puces de Montreuil is where Paris’ real street market lies. In existence since the mid-1800s, here is where you have the best chance to put those haggling chops to the test. Vintage clothing, Forties lighting options, furniture, antiques and more is what you’ll stumble upon here. Tip: Don’t waste your energy on the junk sellers at the start. Walk further down to the tiny square, at the end of the alley along the periphery. It’s where the best dealers hang out.
Open Sat-Mon, 7am-7:30pm
Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves
What the Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves lacks in size, it more than makes up for in warm hospitality. Don’t go expecting fine antiques and furniture; chances are you’ll return disappointed. While you’re at it, throw all expectations out the window. This market prides itself in its odd couplings spread across two avenues –flapper dresses, perfume bottles, vintage toys, vinyls, French linens, Fifties sewing accessories, etc. Tip: The early bird catches the best finds.
Open Sat, Sun, 7am-2pm
Brocante des Abbesses
Here’s one for the art lovers. Its charming setting on the Montmartre hill makes this tiny second-hand market popular with locals. After a sumptuous Sunday brunch, amble through the neighbourhood, where you’re likely to bump into artists on the lookout for their next muse. Old paintings and bric-a- brac, Art Deco accessories, vintage postcards and jewellery by emerging designers is what you’re likely to stumble upon here. Check the website for upcoming events and timings.
Marché des Enfants Rouges
No Parisian experience is complete without food, which is why we recommend Marché des Enfants Rouges. The namesake of the 16th-century orphanage that used to occupy the site, this historic market has to be experienced to be believed. While the former shut before the revolution, the wooden structure was repurposed as a deluxe food market in 2000. Currently on most tourist trails, the market will satiate every belly with its impressive spread of takeaway cuisines that range from Italian and Lebanese to African and Japanese and other stalls. Hipsters will be pleased with the multiple artisanal and organic food stalls.
Tue-Thu 8.30am-1pm, 4pm-7.30pm; Fri-Sat 8.30am-1pm, 4pm-8pm; Sun 8.30am-2pm
Le Marché Rétro d’Oberkampf
One of several fashion pop-up markets in the city, Le Marché Rétro d’Oberkampf surfaces a couple of times a year at varied locations. Usually spread across an area of 250sqft, the chic clothing and furniture market is filled with quirky vintage-ware – furniture from the 1960s, period jewellery, etc. The selection can be a bit limited but the pieces are usually impeccably maintained. Check the website for upcoming events and timings. While on the subject, Vide-greniers.org is where you can stay updated on weekly street markets in the city and France in general. Literally translating to ‘empty the attics’, the site features markets where participants vary from spring-cleaning residents and travelling dealers.