Grab a Bargain at France’s Largest Flea Market
Paris of course is known for its shopping, and the city is home to some of the finest and most expensive shops in Europe. However, if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the fancy boutiques in the first arrondissement, at the other end of the shopping spectrum is the huge flea market at St. Ouen, in the north of Paris. This market, one of Europe’s largest, has been a fixture since it first opened in 1885 and since then has become the city’s fourth most popular sight. It is well worth a visit, but if you want to grab a real bargain, you need to visit early in the morning soon after the traders have arrived and unloaded. It’s open all day Saturday and Sunday, and on Mondays until early afternoon.
Where Priceline Coupons Come In.
You’ve heard of Priceline, right? Priceline.com is currently having an express deals offer that’ll save you 10-15% off hotel rooms that you book with them on their app. So when you visit St. Ouen, make sure you check prices on the Priceline app first before you go.
Back to the Flea Market:
The flea market can be easily reached by Metro, (closest Metro stations are Porte de Clignancourt or Garibaldi) but if your hotel is in Montmartre, it can be more fun to walk, which takes about 30 to 40 minutes. This is not a walk past monuments and museums, but a walk through real working class Parisian neighborhoods and streets. Eventually, you will arrive at the non-stop traffic on the Peripherique at the Porte de Clignancourt, and from here you can just follow the crowds. Around 150,000 people visit the market over the weekend, so it can be very congested. Be careful of pickpockets, and either leave your valuables in your hotel room or keep a close eye on them.
The first section of the market is more touristy and a great place to look for inexpensive souvenirs, including t-shirts and the inevitable replica Eiffel Tower models. But the further north you walk along Avenue Michelet, the less touristy the market becomes, and the souvenirs give way to expensive antiques, furniture, old books and paintings. In fact, there are over a dozen different markets, loosely divided up by theme, with an estimated 1,700 stalls all vying for your business.
One of the specialties of the market is furniture and ornaments from the period known as the Second Empire (1852-1870). The more expensive shops generally take credit cards and will also arrange to have your purchase shipped home for you. There is also a large indoor section of the market here, where you can lose yourself for hours in a maze of alleyways and small dark shops.
One of the joys of the market is that it allows you to immerse yourself in the real Paris – the Paris that you came to see – and one of the best ways is to wander up and down the many small side streets near the market.
Apart from outlet stores and clothes shops, there are dozens of colorful and atmospheric cafes and bars, mostly frequented by the dealers and stallholders. One of the best places to enjoy a break and a cup of coffee is in the well-known restaurant Chez Louisette (132 Avenue Michelet) where the atmosphere is added to by the resident accordion player. Another popular place is the trendy and fashionable Ma Cocotte, with its open kitchen and outside seating area.
The flea market is definitely worth a morning of your time if you can stand the crowds. Remember, though if you fall in love with that 17th-century writing desk, and just have to have it, you somehow have to get it back home.