Thrifting at Paris’ Best Spots for Antique and Vintage Treasures

I like my cities with a bit of history. Perhaps I didn’t get enough of it growing up in Southern California. Everything there seems so new compared to Europe. Now in Paris, history is abundant.

You’re surrounded by it in the streets and visit it in museums and at monuments. You can even own little pieces of it from one of the city’s various brocantes and marché aux puces, or, as they’re known in America, flea markets. I’m no stranger to the world of antiques. As you might recall me mentioning, before moving to Paris I spent a year in an antique shop in California, working and saving up for my move. I look back on it fondly, and made some dear friends there. Antique dealers are always interesting characters. I like people who value the past, and don’t just toss things by the wayside. In addition to friendship, these dealers taught me a lot about antiquing, from hunting treasures to identifying each piece’s age and origin. I put that knowledge to good use each time I visit my favorite brocantes and marché aux puces in Paris. When I’m not in the market for anything in particular, I go just to be inspired—and for the element of discovery. As I pass by or pop in for a visit, I strike up conversations with some of the vendors, reminding me fondly of my old friends. As it turns out, for me there’s a bit of history in California after all.

Paris Rendez-vous

When it comes to Paris, here are my top picks for antiques and great vintage finds:

•  Porte de Vanves is the first flea market I ever visited in Paris, and to this day still my favorite. Prices here are slightly more affordable than other markets, and ideal for finding art, books, small furniture and other items for the home. It’s a weekend market, so pop by before noon on Saturday or Sunday.

•  Clignancourt might be the most famous flea market in the world. Rightly so as it’s practically a small town, with roads and passages lined with specialty vendors. It’s really an area comprised of many markets, and among the best are the Puces de Saint Ouen and Marché Paul Bert. Anything you can dream, you’ll find here as long as you’re willing to look hard enough! At Paul Bert, there’s a café that is the perfect place to pause during your day at Clignancourt.

•  Village Saint Paul is not only one of the most charming areas of the city, but also home to some of the loveliest brocantes. Between rue de Rivoli and the Seine, rue Saint Paul is lined with tiny shops stuffed with treasures. Au Petit Bonheur de Chance is among my favorites. Most Sundays in a large courtyard just off the street you’ll also find a flea market with even more to shop and explore.

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