Paris, France- On the edge of the city of Paris, in a grimy neighborhood known as St. Ouen, is the holy grail for lovers of the secondhand, the rare and unusual. The Marche aux Puces, or market of fleas, is the best known market of its kind in the world. Here you will see more than 3,000 stall in a variety of buildings, under tarpaulins and along rambling alleys. You’ll find china, porcelain, furniture, postcards. posters. lamps and rugs, silverware, toys and art. But there is very little you won’t find if you look hard enough. This flea market is the grandaddy of them all. The Marche aux Puces was founded in 1885, when the city farthers banished Paris’ junk dealers and ragpickers to St. Quen near Porte de Clignancourt, just beyond the city limits.
The “market of fleas” no doubt was an apt description of conditions at that time and for years after. But today’s Marche aux Puces is marked by the kind of professionalism rarely found at American flea markets. Most of the dealers are specialists, and your chances of unearthing a forgotten Matisse are virtually nil. But you can expect savings of 15% to 20% as compared with city prices.
To get to the flea market, take the subway to the Porte de Clignan- court station. You will see dozens of people heading for the market. Follow them past the dozens of stalls selling jeans, T-shirts. American radios and cheap leather and past the multilingual fortune tellers wandering through the crowd. These are the preamble. The real market is beyond the elevated highway, the Boulevard Peripherique.
Essentially, several markets make up the flea market. For antiques, Marche Biron and Marche Cambon are recommended. They are for serious antiques collectors and dealers as well as for people looking for a perfect piece or two. The third market, Marche Vernaison, is the most fun of all. It is a labyrinth of alleys lined with stalls that sell all the things that you go to flea market to see.
Martine Dupuy at stand no 81 has one of the best selections of postcards, many form the turn of the century, with prices starting at about $10. M. Horde, and no 111 has dozens of allumettes, those match holders that once could be found on every kitchen wall. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19901020&id=jCohAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5n4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=7134,4046045