But first, I am taking you to the famous flea markets in Paris. I'll also share a few tips and professional advice on how to successfully shop the markets.
Located at Porte de Clignancourt and officially called Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (but commonly known as "Les Puces" by the trade and Parisians), it is one of the largest antique markets in Europe.
How many of you have been to Les Puces (translated as the fleas)? Whatcha think? Tom and I love it! We've been buying at the Puces for over ten years.....usually twice a year, and even before we had a shop.
You can metro, cab or drive there. We usually drive and park in one of the garages as we're short on time. You can cruise around for a coveted parking spot, but keep in mind many are reserved for residents. Tip: Skip the upgrade to an oversized car and get a compact for easier navigation and parking. If taking metro, be careful once you approach the outdoor vendors selling clothing, handbags, etc. This area is not the Puces. It gets crowded, and pickpocketing is common as this is not the best neighborhood in Paris. Therefore, I highly recommend taking a cab!!
There are many different antique markets at Saint-Ouen. Each has its own flair, character and charm. Marche Biron has classic French antiques, fine artwork and dripping crystal chandeliers. Biron can be pricey. Marche Paul Bert is one of my favorites. Again, it is not inexpensive. Marche Serpette has some of the best antiques and designer furnishings such as Maison Jansen, Bagues, etc. Tres chic! Marche Vernaison is fun, eclectic and touristy. You will find bargains, vintage clothing, paintings, furniture and the unexpected at Vernaison. To see a complete list, go here.
Tip #1 - Go early to beat the crowds and get first dibs. It can get really crowded in the afternoon.
Tip #2 - Buy with your eyes and not with your ears! Examine! Examine!! You will find most dealers to be knowledgeable and honest. But once in a while.....
I really liked this stall. Check out the Swedish painted dropleaf table, painted apothecary style chest, campaign iron daybed and clubchair reupholstered in vintage homespun linen with tufting.
How could I resist this small French Directoire trumeau with its classical style frieze, pilasters and original painted surface?? The mercury glass is heavily foxed...just the way I like it! Look for it on our website soon.
Tip #3 - Always ask before handling, and oh, mind your handbag, backpack, umbrella, etc. Not all shops / stalls are as neat and tidy as the above. Many are packed!
Ahhh, lunchtime! You will see the dealers picking up their baguettes, cheese, pate and wine. They will enjoy a fabulous lunch and still conduct business. So do interrupt if you have a question about an item in their stall.
Above: How many doggies can you find? Look at all those Montparnasse carved wooden frames - so French!
Above: This early 19th century French walnut table with its mellow patina spoke to me. I love the undulating "X" form stretcher. It is one of my favorite pieces in the new shipment.
Tip #4 - Line up a shipper in advance if you anticipate buying large items that can't be carried home on the plane.
Tip #5 - Crate fragile items such as chandeliers, mirrors, marble tops and barometers - definitely worth the investment.
Tip #6 - When buying artwork, don't be afraid to take the piece outside to examine in natural light. (Of course ask first.) That dingy looking painting in the dark corner could be a gorgeous gem!
Tip #7 - Don't be afraid to negotiate prices. Do so politely and confidently. And know when to stop.
I really, really wanted the above 19th cen French boiserie panel, but it was just out of my budget. After negotiating for a while, I had to walk away :( But I did buy a terrific landscape painting from that same dealer.Win some, lose some!
Perfect for Halloween! I meant to go back for these glass eyeballs but forgot. My guess is that they aren't old. Anyone know where I can find a few?
Even the graffiti in Paris is charming!
After the Puces, a visit to one of our favorite museums: Musee d'Orsay. This magnificent Beaux Arts building was once a train station.
Enjoy the impressive collection of Impressionist paintings and panoramic views of Paris from the top floor of d'Orsay. In the distance is Montmartre.
Paris is full of fabulous restaurants, and we love trying new ones. I asked my blog friend and talented chef Ivan of A Normandy Kitchen for a restaurant suggestion. Ivan suggested Aux Lyonnais, an old Parisian restaurant now owned by Alain Ducasse. Being Americans, we ate early of course!
The food was absolutely divine! For my main course, fish dumplings in a rich but very light (how do they do it?) crayfish sauce with creme fraiche. Tom had pollack with an asparagus sauce. For appetizers, we had pate and foie gras.
Dessert was just as delicious. Check out my souffle with grapefruit salad. Mmmmm!! BTW, even the restroom was charming....just had to share :)
As we always do on the last night of each Paris trip, we visited a few iconic monuments and sights. Seeing the Louvre at night - magical!