As a child, I remember spending hours and hours waiting while my parents shopped for antique furniture. They used to bribe me with Famous Five novels, but those books had no chance of lasting long enough for my speedy eyes and their lengthy negotiations. As I sat in dark corners illicitly popping bubble wrap, I had no idea why they found a boring old, ugly wooden table so interesting.
Fast forward 30 years. Now that I have an apartment of my own, I can finally say this: Mom, Dad, I get it.
All I want to do is spend time in flea markets. Marche aux puces, brocante, vide grénier — call them what you will, they all offer the same thing: other people’s junk. And I’m obsessed with it.
So far, my scourings have yielded a set of Thonet café chairs, various digestif glasses, a gilt-framed mirror, and an Art Deco lamp.
Oh, and these dishes. A mismatched set of dessert, dinner and soup plates. I plan to add to them until I have a full service of dishware in different patterns. I’m hoping to start a collection of blue-and-white china, you see (is this lunacy?).
Anyway, I’ve only just started my flea market explorations and am far from an expert. There’s a wealth of information about Paris’s Marché aux Puces on the internets, including these articles here, here, and here. But I can offer these bits of advice:
1) If you’re in the country for the weekend and you see a sign advertising “brocante” BEG your traveling companion(s) to go. Country flea markets have great prices.
2) Research the Porte de Clignancourt market before you visit — it’s actually a warren of many different markets. I found the best bric-a-brac (bits of china, cutlery, linens) at Vernaison. Everyone loves the Marché Paul Bert — it’s fascinating, but focuses mainly on furniture. Prices here are astronomical.
3) The Porte de Vanves market is smaller, with more bric-a-brac and some reasonable prices. I bought the aforementioned mirror here for 40 Euros. On the other hand, the selection is much more limited than Clignancourt.