February 4, 2015

Discover Walks: Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen

When my husband and I were invited to go on a guided tour of Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen with Discover Walks this past weekend, I was excited at the prospect of discovering something new, although a bit apprehensive of doing an outdoor visit in winter.

On Sunday morning, we bundled up and made our way to Porte de Clignancourt where we met our guide, Marie, and fellow tour members Mary and Lynne. As we began our walk, it didn’t take long to see the benefits of a February visit. Only those willing to brave the cold were present, resulting in an intimate sized group, perfect for sticking together and piping in with questions. 

As we made our way to the flea market, we stopped to take a quick peek inside one of Paris’ hottest hipster hangouts, La Recyclerie. We then continued on down the rue des Rosiers, as Marie gave us the history of the market, which was fascinating to say the least.

The first market on our tour, Marché Vernaison
Marie, our Discover Walks tour guide
Our local Discover Walks guide, Marie
Located just outside of Paris, Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is the largest flea market in the world! It includes 15 distinct markets, each with a personality all their own.

We began with Vernaison, the oldest of the 15, where Marie skillfully led us through the labyrinth of stalls that housed precious silver, vintage furniture and plenty of oddities. Being a cold and gray midwinter day, the normally busy passages were not at all congested. We took our time to leisurely browse and admire all the treasures.

An opulent stall at the Marché Vernaison, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
French opulence  at its finest at Marché Vernaison
Stall at Marché Vernaison, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
An alcove of bric-a-brac at Marché Vernaison
Our next stop was the more modern Dauphine, where we all drooled over Louis Vuitton steamer trunks, Chanel handbags and Hermès scarves. We then continued on to Paul Bert Serpette to eye upscale artistic pieces, Philippe Starck’s restaurant and a very famous film spot.

Marché Dauphine, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
The more modern and covered Marché Dauphine
 
Futuro House at Marché Dauphine, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
A "Futuro House" from the 70s inside Marché Dauphine
Marché Paul Bert, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
Marché Paul Bert Serpette under a gray Parisian sky
Stall where the Midnight in Paris flea market scene was filmed, Marché Paul Bert, Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
The stall from the flea market scene in "Midnight in Paris"...Looks a little different in person!

As we wound through the different streets and markets, there were a multitude of things to see. Marie pointed out some of the more original shops, including giant brain sculptures, furniture made of old plane parts and exotic taxidermy!

As our visit was coming to an end, Marie led us to an information point to grab some maps. She gave an overview of the markets we had not yet visited, and guidelines for getting back.

The 1 ½ hour tour seemed to pass in no time at all. Marie’s dynamism and knowledge brought a great deal to our first experience, which we would not have had visiting on our own.

Now that we have the lay of the land thanks to an insider, we can’t wait to go back again to further explore all that Le Marché aux Puces has to offer!

Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 10am-6pm
Monday 11am-5pm
   
You can learn more about this Paris tour and others by visiting www.discoverwalks.com 

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