I admit I have no sense of direction. It took me 25 years and 4 attempts until I finally found Marché Aux Puces in Paris. And it was worth the perseverance.
The literal translation is “Flea Market” but the Marché Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is much more (and nicer) than a typical flea market. It was created in 1885 and is supposedly the largest antique market in the world.
Getting To The Marché
When reading about the Marché years ago, the internet and Googling were not in vogue. I had to rely on tour books and they would tell you to take the Metro north and get off at the Porte de Clignancourt stop. So far, so good.
Upon reaching street level you are immediately surrounded by lots of people. You are told to start walking north.
Check. Did that.
And you are now in the midst of a true flea market—-lots of junk and cheap goods under tents. Stuff you likely aren’t interested in. The first 3 times my friend and I thought we had walked enough and had seen the Marché Aux Puces, although we were very confused as we didn’t see the antiques or quaint shops which books spoke about. Nor did we ask for help. I know. Dumb. I don’t know why we didn’t ask for help. Now there is an official website which didn’t exist way back when I first tried going there.
Skip ahead to 2012 and my friend Laurie and I are determined to find the REAL Marché Aux Puces if it kills us. Finally we did. We realized that we had to traverse our way through the dirty, cheap flea market until we had reached the peripherique (ring). This is the road that circles Paris. The market is actually just north of the peripherique. One of the side streets off Rue Jean Henri Fabre will take you into one of the 14 markets. The area is basically surrounded by or is adjacent to:
- Rue Jean Henri Fabre
- Avenue Mikhelet
- Rue Louis Dain
- Rue des Rosiers
- Rue Lecuyer
So what is the Marché Aux Puces like?
There are actually 14 markets within the Marché Aux Puces with supposedly more than 1700 merchants offering items such as chandeliers, paintings, jewelry, rugs, clothing, and furniture. Much of the collections are pricey, so if you want to buy something bring lots of Euros! The area is laid out with stalls, not open stalls but more like small stores in a pedestrian area. The Marche Malassis and Marche Paul Bert areas are supposedly the most popular.
Is it worth going there?
Yes. It’s fun to roam the aisles, see some remarkable antiques and some touristy trinkets. It’s just to visit this area for a few hours. You might find something worth buying but a lot of the items are expensive. Be prepared to negotiate…in French! And be careful taking pictures. A lot of the merchants frown on you taking pictures of their treasures.
I think the best days to go are on the weekend, although it is open on Mondays.
- Saturdays —9:00-6:00 pm
- Sundays— 10:00-6:00 pm
- Mondays—10:00-5:00 pm