If you have been to the Marché Aux Puces at St. Ouen, north Paris, a few years ago, going back might be disappointing. Not only its streets are packed with that terrible mix of pickpockets and tourists, but worse, the first rows of stalls –if you go by tube- are packed with crap. Bric-a-bracs with no charm whatsoever. Plastic smelly shoes, 80s key-rings, and so on... You need to walk all along the trashy stalls to get to the indoor market, like 10 minutes away and where lovely (and most times expensive) vintage furniture and stuff lies.
In case you go, be ready and wear comfy shoes, it’s something like 17 acres and said to be the world’s largest antique market.
However, most of the Parisians I’ve met here claim that they don’t go up there anymore and they introduced me to the brocantes.
Are you now wondering what a brocante is? I had never heard that word in my entire life either...
Brocantes are a mix of flea markets, second hand markets, antique fairs and car boot sales.
They are normally held at open-air spaces, really charming ephemeral stalls all around Paris & France, especially during spring/summer. Brocantes are the markets crammed with locals, the ones you can picture on your mind before you come here... and the ones that aren’t that easy to find.
What can you get in a brocante? Anything under the sun basically. The ones I attended were good for kitchenware and furniture, but you can also find old books, posters, games, music, art, tableware, clothing, collections of anything, from bottles to stamps... If the first two words you usually type in Etsy are “French vintage...” brocantes are definitely your place.
Prices vary from a few euros to hundreds, depending obviously on what you are getting. I noticed that bargain isn’t as popular as in some other places and if you try once and they say that option isn’t available, don’t push it, it will get you nowhere.
After time I have come to the conclusion that the best two sites to check brocantes are Brocabrac and the Paris Local Council one.