The Best Flea Markets in Paris: Le marché aux puces

One of the things I have always wanted to visit in Paris are the flea markets, le marche aux puces. I’ve been intimidated to visit them, but this year I decided to go.  

In advance, I armed myself with a few key french words, that you can use even if you speak very limited French.  

First, always start with Bonjour, before you say anything else.  If you see something you like you can use a one word question, Combien?  This is an easy way to ask how much?  If you want to get the best price, you can say Prendriez-vous + the price.  This means, would you take 20 euros?

Les Puces translates to fleas.  I visited three of the largest flea markets in Paris and a bunch of smaller ones too.  I feel obligated to report the real experience that I didn’t find online.  

Les Puces de Montreuil

The first one that we visited is Les Puces de Montreuil.  First, the basic details are that it is open from Saturday to Monday from 7 am to 7:30pm.  It is located at Avenue du Professeur André Lemierre, 20e (the 20th arondissement.  You can take the metro there to the Eastern side of Paris.  

Upon arrival, you will walk by a bunch of vendors hawing their wares on the ground outside.  There is mostly junk there.  Continue walking farther until you get to the large umbrellas.  Here you will find more “bargains”, but really junk.  I am disappointed to say that I didn’t see a single item worth haggling over.  

This market is not what I would consider a flea market.  It appeared to be a bunch of new, cheap junk.  Take the used dollar store merchandise and knock it down a few rungs and that’s what you will find here.  Don’t waste your time.  There were people selling rusty scissors and partially used ink toner cartridges.   

Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves

I visited this one first thing on a Sunday morning.  It opens early and is located on the southern end of Paris in the 14th Arrondissement. This one was my personal favorite. You can see more details about this one here.

This market it is open from 7 am to 2 pm Saturday and Sunday.  I arrived around 8 am and it wasn’t crowded.  The market is set up in a circle around a grass tennis court.  There are umbrellas on both sides of the street.  This is more of what I would consider a traditional flea market, where there are some deals.

What you can find at the Vanves flea market:  artwork, clothing, furniture, silver, jewelry, dishes, linens, old books, clothes.  I found many things I would have tried to take home if I lived here, but few that would fit in my suitcase.  I would definitely go back to this one.  Many of the vendors did take credit cards and it was not an intimidating experience.  They were very friendly.  

Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen

This market is open Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm and Monday from 11am to 5 pm.   It is in the 18th arrondissement, north of Paris. 

This market requires more of a strategy because it is the largest antique market.  I arrived via the Garibaldi métro stop (instead of the porte de clignancourt) because I read that you can avoid the crowds and all of the T-shirt and sneaker vendors that line the outside.  

Saint Ouen is a VERY large market.  It’s so large that you can arrange a local guide to tour with.  It’s the most famous flea market, but it was not my favorite.  First, it was so large that it didn’t feel like a market you can just stroll through in a few hours.  Second, the vendors were not as inviting or friendly.  There were lots of signs that indicated you can’t take a photo.    

What you can find at St Ouen:  chandeliers, fine art, mirrors, and antiques. There are no real bargains at this market and the atmosphere was a lot less friendly.  

I prefer the smaller flea markets in the neighborhoods.  The first reason is that this market feels more like a chore.  It’s not the best place for a bargain or just a relaxed stroll.  Parisian flea markets are intimidating enough because of the language issue.  I don’t want to have to look at a floor plan or a map to figure out where I am.  But this market has been on my bucket list.  

How to find Neighborhood Flea Markets?

In my experience, the best Paris flea markets are the ones that pop up in the neighborhoods, the paris street markets.  They don’t happen every weekend in the same spot, but they DO happen all the time.  

It’s easy to find temporary smaller markets by visiting this site (you’ll want to search Paris, this is for all of France).  This site is not in English but lists the neighborhood markets by date.  Here’s an example of the ones that were happening the week I was in Paris.  

local flea markets

I went to Puce de la Place D’Aligre.   The great thing is that it was in a neighborhood off the beaten path of the typical tourist things and they are more likely to be in central Paris (vs the outskirts).  Not only was the market unique, but I found a few really cute shops around the market.  These markets are also on weekdays, so you aren’t limited to Saturday morning if you’re not in Paris on a weekend.  

These markets always have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but they also have tents and tables with vintage clothing, books, art, furniture, vintage toys and many more vintage items.  These markets have the best deals. 

Useful Tips For Paris Markets

  1. Currency: It’s not like the old days when everything had to be cash but not all vendors accept credit cards.  Some of the smaller ones only take cash.  You can ask, “cartes de crédit?”.  Don’t try to pay by credit card if the amount is less than 10 euros.  
  2. Bartering: In many cultures, including the French, bartering or haggling is common at markets. You’ll be more successful if you have a friend or husband who can say “that’s too expensive”.  
  3. What to Wear/Bring: Wear comfortable shoes (you’ll do a lot of walking).  I mean sneakers.  Most vendors don’t have a bag.  Bring a canvas bag or backpack to carry your purchases.  
  4. Safety: At the larger markets like the Paris saint-ouen flea market it’s a great place for pick pocketers because people are carrying cash.  The safe way to carry cash is in your front pockets or on a cross-body bag that you keep in front of you.  
  5. Culture: Always be respectful.  Some of these items are very personal, and it’s important to handle them with care and respect.
  6. Arrival Time: As with most flea markets, you tend to get a better price closer to when the market is ending especially with antique dealers because they don’t want to pack up the goods and take them home.  But if you see something you love, it might be gone.  For the best selection go early, but for the best price shop late.  
  7. Shipping Large Items: Keep in mind that most small vendors won’t be able to help you with shipping large items.  Shipping large items like furniture will be VERY expensive, so make sure you factor this into the price.  
  8. Eating: The flea markets are always surrounded by cafes and boulangeries.  It’s not necessary to bring food.  
  9. Flea Market Etiquette: ALWAYS start every exchange with Bonjour and end with merci, au revoir or both.  It’s also a good idea to ask before you touch anything or pick anything up.  

If this is your first time or you are an experienced flea market shopper, the most important thing is to enjoy the view.  Flea markets are a great way to experience the real Paris even if you don’t find that “dream object”. 

If you liked this article you might enjoy flea market shopping tips and the guide to Round Top Antique market and Paris: hotel or Airbnb?

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One Comment

  1. Andrea, I think I went to the same flea market as you mentioned above in your first description. I recall it being VERY disappointing. Though this was many years ago, I also think I went to the 3rd one you described. I recall feeling let down that I was going to find the ultimate flea market, but never did. Really good information that I will save for my next trip to Paris….maybe this should be a bloggers vacation trip?? Since you speak French it would be very helpful!

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