Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paris Post: St-Ouen Flea Market (Clignancourt)

The Clignancourt market has everything you can imagine - furniture, mirrors, porcelain, old books, vintage photos and posters, old Hermes and Vuitton luggage, kitchen appliances, nautical objects, architectural fixtures, lighting, linens - name your poison and you'll find it here!  And nothing is cheaper than 40 Euros.  Oh, occasionally you can find some trinkets and junk that are cheaper but because many of the things are actually old (as opposed to true junk), there aren't a lot of bargains.

I fell in love with this stunning ivory floral tureen, but it was 500 Euro for the full serving set.  She would not sell me the tureen alone, so I had to settle for this photo:
The St-Ouen market actually consists of a number of smaller mini-markets that are located side-by-side.  Some of the markets are housed in actual buildings and have storefronts and glass windows inside, while others are housed in countless stalls with garage doors that the vendors open when they arrive, for a real open-air experience!

Each mini-market has anywhere from 25 to hundreds of booths, and the different mini-markets seem to specialize in different things.  The first section we visited was the most posh, with expensive furniture and so on, but we later visited a market that specialized in vintage books and posters and later another that seemed to be mostly linens and trinkets and junk.

We spent an entire day at St-Ouen and probably visited about 5 of the dozen or more mini- markets. Within those 5, we literally passed hundreds of stalls!

A showroom in a more posh market, selling 18th century antiques:

Other sections of the market had more rustic, but still costly, wares:

Some dealers had very creative exhibits and didn't seem to care that they don't sell things every day.  Of course when they do sell an item, it's for several hundred euros, so there's no rush.
Some very old ex-sea life.
All of this stuff is old and most of it was several hundred euros each.  The flags on the wall were over 2000 Euros each.  This crown was 700 euros.

Some genuine and genuinely expensive sea life. Each of these corals was priced at several hundred euros (those Pottery Barn reproductions were a much better bargain but don't have the same cachet).

Furniture in open stalls. 

Some gorgeous French furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries:

The sofa was 3000 euro and had been restored.  The shopkeeper was so lovely and talked to us for almost an hour about her antiques, restoration, and about french politics.  She didn't spare her opinions on Sarkozy and his new wife (which was not the word she used).
I could have had the 19th century fauteuil below for 2500 Euro.  It had been meticulously restored according to custom and was stuffed with horsehair.  She showed us the underside which had canvas straps to hold in the stuffing.
This guy had all sorts of phenomenal junk but didn't like my picture-taking.
Not all the Paris flea markets are this rambling and expensive.  

We also visited the market at Vanves, which is more like a giant yard sale with about 300 tables, selling everything from antiques (more knick-knacks, porcelain, linens, and smaller items) to serious brocante (junk).  I walked past every table in about 3 hours, bought several things there and spent around 50 euros total!

But for the genuine historical flea market experience, and to see thousands of rare and unusual things you wouldn't normally lay eyes on, you really should visit St-Ouen.  It's not the spot to pick up cheap novelties for home but you can find some truly amazing things here, and if you're willing to shell out a few bucks, you can take home a very special find with a great deal of character and history.  

They books say there are bargains here, but we didn't visit the junkier parts of the market and I must confess I didn't see many.

Hope you liked the visit!


  1. welcome home. oh my. eye candy galore. as for me, my mouth would've been agape, as it was just looking at your lovely pics. thank you

  2. Heya!

    Wow, so many things and lovely pics! Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time!!

    Are you happy to be back again or would you have liked more time in Paris? I haven't been there in many years now but it's always nice to go there!

    Have a great thursday!

    Hugs Susanne

  3. Lovely, lovely pictures...I so enjoyed looking at your flea market adventure. It is very different from the one that I enjoyed today as you can well imagine! LOL!

  4. HI Terri

    I've been to that market and its an incredible feast for the senses! Your images have captured it beautifully, well done.

  5. i die. (as per Rachel Zoe).

  6. Even if everything was expensive, it must have been fun to see all these lovely things.
    On our trip to Normandy we experinced that France is a very expensive country. Almost as expensive as London!

  7. i found your blog from the decor 8 blog. :) I'm so jealous of your paris trip. :) I haven't been in a few years and dream of it often. Seems like you had an amazing trip.