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Exploring Paris fleamarkets; the Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen - Part 1

In this series of blogs, I'll be sharing my adventures exploring the sprawling collection of fleamarkets at the Puces d'Ouen often known as Clignancourt, or Le Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen to give it its full name.



If you are visiting Paris for only a short time, this guide will help you make the most of your visit. And if you have more time to explore, I hope it makes a good starting point. I certainly needed some information before my first visit.


The markets are open Saturday and Sunday from about 10am, although this is a flexible start. The official closing time is 6pm, but you may find this brought forward.


The markets are advertised as open Monday, but very few stalls were open when I visited to check for you.


To get there, take the Metro to Porte de Clingnancourt or the buses to Puce d'Ouen are very convenient. I downloaded the RATP App to help me plan my route. Public transport in Paris is safe and conventient.


Don't forget, if you can't get to Paris or find what you're looking for, you can shop my curated collection of authentic fleamarket finds here at QuintessentiallyFrench.com


In Part One, I'll show you a couple of markets, but first I think a a little history of and introduction to Les Puces is in order.


A few fleamarket facts about Puces de Saint Ouen, Paris


It's actually not one market but 14 separate markets, centering around the Rue des Rosiers, as well as a wide range of antique shops covering an area of 7 hectares, that's about 17 acres! Additionally the length of the streets and alleys all added together is 11km (nearly 7 miles!)


The fleamarkets welcome 11 million visitors a year, which makes it the 4th most popular tourist attraction in Paris.


All the markets have a distinct chatacter, it's fun to get to know them all, to wander and discover the interesting corners whilst chatting to the sellers - but as you can imagine from the sheer scale, it will take several visits to see all the markets in any detail.



A brief history of the Puces de Saint Ouen fleamarket, Paris


The Marché au Puces started in the 1880s on an area of waste ground just beyond the Porte de Clignancourt (the boundary gate into Paris). It became the place the traders gathered to sell their wares . At that time, merchants selling second hand goods were not permitted to do so inside the city limits.


In 1908, with the advent of the Metro bringing better transport links and more customers from Paris, the stallholders began to invest, replacing their carts which they brought to the market every morning, with huts to store their goods, adding a little more permanence.



The market's popularity increased and in 1918, Jules Vernaison gained permission to start the Marché Vernaison on Rue des Rosiers, in the format we know as Les Puces today. So this seems a good place to start.


Marché Vernaison


Marché Vernaison is very quaint, with its rambling passages it has a couple of entrances, one through a very narrow alley way. There are over 300 sellers and a café; 'Chez Louisette' it looks very authentic, but we didn't stop, too many treasures to truffle!


Take your time and wander up and down the alleyways and talk to he merchants, they are friendly, welcoming and most will allow photog