There just seems to be something undeniably exciting and intriguing about a Parisian flea market. Lucky for those seeking special treasures there are several to source from. I recently stumbled upon some wonderful information regarding the Paris flea markets at ParisPerfect.com. They provided a wonderful summary of the history, which can be found below:
The history of the flea market dates back over two centuries, when rag and bone men scoured through the garbage of Paris at night to find valuable junk to sell on. They were called ‘crocheteurs’ or pickers. The romantic term was ‘pêcheurs de lune’ or fishermen for the moon. Many set up their temporary stalls within the Paris walls, in sleazy neighborhoods but because these neighborhoods were full of pickpockets and thieves, they were chased out of the city walls to Clignancourt, Montreuil, Vanves, etc. The largest of these flea markets is the one at Clignancourt but the other two continue to this day.
The rag and bone men gathered outside the walls of Paris at the Porte de Clignancourt and set up temporary stalls where they hawked their wares. Eventually, they formed groups of stalls to attract more customers. The more enterprising traders began to ‘trade up’ in terms of goods and eventually it became popular for Parisian collectors and antique dealers to shop there for bargains.
In 1885, authorities in the town of Saint Ouen made a significant move to pave the streets and clean up the area, marking the official starting year of Les Puces. Several areas were designated as official market areas and a fee had to be paid to set up a stall there.
The markets grew until Monsieur Romain Vernaison transformed the acres he owned into a series of covered huts; voilà, Marché Vernaison was born.
Then an Albanian named Malik (rumored to be an Albanian Prince) bought a restaurant on rue Jules Valles and transformed the building into 100 stalls, forming the Malik market.
The Marché du Biron was formed in 1925, with two long rows of stalls and is known as one of the more expensive markets.
I also found their Flea Market Tips very useful:
1. Go to the Flea Market in the morning as it becomes very crowded in the afternoon.
2. Hide your wallets under your shirt or sweaters around your neck. You don’t need a lot of cash anyway, as most dealers accept credit cards.
3. Don’t bring your passports to the Flea Market or miscellaneous credit cards that you won’t use: we have never needed our passports to buy there because antiques do not have VAT for the detaxe refund.
4. Negotiating: If you love to shop for antiques then you don’t need my advice, but remember that everything is negotiable.
5. It helps to have someone come along that can seemingly argue against your purchase. This will push the dealer to move more quickly on pricing.
6. You don’t have to complete the sale on the spot; get a mobile phone number and call the dealer the next day to negotiate. If they haven’t had a big weekend (and with the Euro at new highs against the dollar, business is very slow) they are more willing to give a good discount.
The truth is vintage furnishings keep your decor unique and special. Designers love sourcing from places such as those mentioned here. If you find yourself in Paris please be sure to find some time to visit a flea market. You might find that one treasure perfect for your home!