At the Saint Ouen Flea Market: Shopping in Paris With a Personal Guide
Given my longtime obsession with the Antiques Diva & Co. (and the company’s fabulous founder Toma Clark Haines!), while planning my trip to Paris for the launch of Love Happens Volume 3 I made sure to find time for shopping in Paris with a Diva style tour of the one and only Saint Ouen flea market!
The Antiques Diva & Co.
The Antiques Diva & Co, the world’s largest antiques buying and touring services company, had their annual Champagne Brunch in Paris during our visit. So we scheduled our tour for after the event and planned a full day at the Saint Ouen flea market. Toma’s head tour guide in Paris, the delightful Jean-Pierre Pelletier, connected me with the lovely Katie Phillips who would be our antiques shopping in Paris tour guide extraordinaire. When Katie asked what we were looking for in advance of our visit (just one of the many perks of hiring a guide!)—I gave her the list below.
- Overview of the Saint Ouen flea market
- Top places for interior designers
- Art deco!
- Anything extra high end!
- Haute couture or high fashion related!
Off to the Saint Ouen Flea Market
Sunday arrived and KOKET/Love Happens fabulous PR director Natalia Vilaca and our smart, sassy and completely loveable intern Samantha, and I headed off to the Paris Flea Market for a day we will all remember! This was not my first visit to Les Puces, however, it was surely my most in-depth and enjoyable visit!
Champagne Brunch at Marché Dauphine
First stop, the 6th Annual Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch at Marché Dauphine. After a delicious pink mimosa, some mingling with brunch attendees (which included top interior designers, one of my favorite PR masters Andrew Joseph, and event hosts, the founders, and editor of ASPIRE magazine) we met our guide Katie and her adorable canine assistant!
Katie ushered us out of Marché Dauphine, Saint Ouen flea market’s largest covered market, and out onto the Paris Flea Market’s main street—Rue des Rosiers. While small chatting about Katie’s other job, a registrar at the famous Gagosian Gallery and how she came to Paris from London, we made our way down rue des Rosiers to Paul Bert Serpette.
Marché Paul Bert Serpette
Upon entering, Katie informed us this was The Place to find the flea market’s most luxurious and exquisite items. The market is split into two sections. The outdoor Allées, known as Paul Bert and the indoor section, known as Serpette. Katie explained that this market is a favorite stop for collectors, connoisseurs, and many famous interior designers. And we quickly learned this to be true after passing the Million Dollar Decorator star and one of the US’s top interior designers, the LA-based Martyn Lawerence Bullard. Then shortly thereafter by the New York City-based modern day style-icon and businesswomen Olivia Palermo.
Our first stop was at Paul Bert Allée 1, Stand 13. A spectacular vintage fashion shop by the name of Les Merveilles de Babellou. Filled with rare pieces by Chanel, Balenciaga, Gucci, Valentino, Dior and so much more, Les Merveilles de Babellou is an emblematic stop for antique fashion lovers visiting Saint-Ouen. Owner Isabelle Klein sources from her deep fashion network for clothing, bags, shoes, and jewelry that meet her three key criterion—luxury, rarity, and singularity. We also visited Isabelle’s second shop located in Paul Bert Allée 1, Stand 77—another treasure trove of luxurious vintage fashion!
With Christmas decor still up despite it being nearly the end of January, Paul Bert had a special magical feeling. With lots on our agenda, we walked along, stopping only occasionally to snap a photo or admire something magnificent.
Chilled by the brisk winter air we gladly followed Katie inside Serpette. As we passed a flower vendor seated near the entrance Katie spoke to him in French. She then informed us she was asking the cost of his flowers. And that flowers in the Paris Flea Market are always a better price than elsewhere in Paris. Good to know!
Hardware heaven! We came upon Antiquités Jankovsky at Allée 6, Stand 6. Filled with antique hardware—knobs, knockers, handles, hinges, you name it, it was there. They even source missing pieces to complete sets. As we walked on Katie informed us that many of the glassware and dinnerware dealers in this section, and throughout the Paris Flea Market, also offer such sourcing services.
Marché Serpette was filled with beautiful furniture, mostly antiques, but also some new. Anasthasia Millot’s exquisite bronze furniture is one of the vendors offering new designs. A trend Katie told us is occurring more often in the past few years in the Paris Flea Market.
This market is also home to one of the most amazing vintage handbag and luggage shops. Known for their incredible collection of vintage Hermès Kelly bags, among others, and their vintage Louis Vuitton and Goyard trunks, Le Monde du Voyage at Allée 3, Stand 15 is an amazing source!
At the end of Allée 3 was Olwen Forest’s jewel box. Not only was her stand filled with amazing vintage jewelry and an intriguing exhibit titled Rock, Rap & Rythme, Olwen herself was worth the visit! A former actress and connoisseur of celebrity jewelry and couture pieces from brands such as Chanel and Schiaparelli, Olwen is a wealth of vintage jewelry information and full of interesting stories. Fascinated by jewelry worn by the Golden Age of Hollywood icons, Olwen is a tireless collector of sunburst necklaces, Art Deco jewelry and the snake jewelry created by Joseff of Hollywood for Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo.
In a glass case in a partitioned section of Olwen’s stand was her exhibit Rock, Rap & Rythme. An exhibition composed of famous musician’s jewelry paired with photographs of them wearing the pieces. Featuring pieces worn by many of the greats from Fred Astaire and Pharrell Williams to Michael Jackson and Madonna, you could almost feel the musical geniuses music and on stage energy radiating from each piece. In Serpette? Love vintage jewelry? Visit Olwen Forest at Allée 3, stand 5-7!
One last stop in Serpette, another fashion treasure trove—Clara Lardé. This charming boutique is packed with antique fashion from couture Balmain cocktail dresses to Schiaparelli brooches, and beyond. Another must for fashion lovers! Serpette, Allée 1, Stands 28-29.
From mid-century to art deco, to pops of 1980s color. From rustic to classic and everything in between Marché Paul Bert Serpette may just be the most amazing place in the entire world to find unique vintage and antiques! And if seeing SO many beautiful things has you hungry, be sure to stop by Ma Cocotte. This industrial-chic eaterie was designed by Philippe Starck (enough said!). Since opening in 2012 Ma Cocotte has become a top place to visit while shopping the Paris Flea Market. But no time for food for us yet!
Next Stop Marc Maison – Fireplace Mantel Heaven!
Did you know when exporting antiques from France there is a chance the piece may need its own passport? If your antique purchase is 50+ years old and over 50,000€, or your art (prints, postcards, engravings, and lithographs, etc.) is 50+ years and over 15,000€ – your piece will need a passport. The process can take up to 3-4 months to complete and gives the country a chance to buy the piece before you in order to keep it within its country of origin. Luckily if you are shopping at Marc Maison they have likely already secured this passport for you.
Never in my life have I seen so many beautiful marble and stone fireplaces, WOW. Upon entering Marc Maison, a seemingly small street-level stand-alone boutique on rue des Rosiers, one is instantly surrounded by beauty. Although Marc Maison sells many categories of antiques including accessories, furniture, and lighting—they are renowned for their amazing collection of antique fireplaces.
Inside Marc Maison
Katie began our tour of the space with a stop at an exceptional Louis XVI style Carrara marble fireplace which once resided in the iconic Hôtel de Crillon. Then, after slowly taking in each magnificent piece surrounding us, we followed Katie toward the back corner of the room and down a small and rather mysterious appearing staircase. After turning the corner and descending down the second half of the stairs rows and rows of fireplaces revealed themselves. White painted brick cellar walls opened to a long underground corridor of fireplace surrounds. Katie prompted us to explore and be sure to check in each of the small adjoining side rooms! We picked our favorites as we dreamt of the rooms they could serve as focal in.
If you are looking for magnificent antique fireplace surrounds Marc Maison is a must!
As our heads spun from all the glamour and beauty in Paul Bert Serpette and Marc Maison Katie led us into Marché Biron. Described as Saint Ouen flea market’s mid-level market, we anticipated a little less luxury and exclusiveness in comparison to Paul Bert Serpette. While Marché Biron certainly didn’t feel quite as indulgent as the previous market, it was still FILLED with beautiful and inspiring antiques and vintage decor.
A few of our favorites were Moufflet & Co. – Paris Fine Arts, Galerie Laure Edouard, and Galerie Alexia Say.
With a sign reading Jane Moufflet, Moufflet & Co. – Paris Fine Arts is home to Nicholas Moufflet’s amazing collection of fine prints and original vintage posters. Since 1970, Moufflet has been providing visitors to Saint Ouen flea market with beautiful authentic works of art. Looking to see their inventory without having to visit them in person at Allée 1, Stand 1? Check their ebay store!
We also loved Galerie Laure Edouard, an internationally renowned shop dedicated to antique tableware. The owner, Laure Edouard, is adored by her loyal customers, many of whom are the big name hotels and restaurants. She first opened her shop in 1998. But her passion for tableware and true foray into the business began with her mother, a silverware specialist. So, if you are looking for rare and exquisite antique tableware go visit Madame Laure at Allée 1, Stand 29.
Galerie Alexia Say’s stunning collection of Lalique, Daum, Galle and beyond was a visual delight! A temple to the pâte de verre art, the gallery owner, known as Isa, is a delightful and passionate expert in the realm. Whether coming to admire or buy, visiting Alexia Say and having a chance to hear Isa speak about her collection is well worth your time in the Saint Ouen flea market! Allée 1 – Stands 99, 100 & 101 & Allée 2 – Stand 170.
Last Stop Marché Vernaison, Bric-a-Brac and Packables Galore
When most people think about the term flea market, Marché Vernaison is probably what they have in mind. Seemingly endless rows filled with small knick-knacks. Everything from beads, trimmings, home decor, art, and clothing to war memorabilia, antique toys, and beyond. A collectors dreamland with stands brimming with pins, keychains, stamps, etc. Thank goodness for Katie or we most certainly would have become lost in this flea market maze!
We especially loved the fan specialty shop, Fan D’éventails! Run by Laetitia Georges her website description says it all! “Antiquaire from father to daughter, I wish to share with you my passion for ancient fans. Object of art and history, fashion accessory, portable painting, reflection of emotions … the fan is a collector’s item of great wealth offering a wonder constantly renewed. On this site, as in my shop, I present you quality fans, rigorously selected for their authenticity, their rarity, their aesthetics and their state of conservation.” Allée 2, Stand 53.
One word – wow! The Saint Ouen flea market is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. As we said our goodbyes and thank yous to our wonderful Antiques Diva & Co. guide, Katie, I imagined what fun one could have in a place like this if you were really on a mission. Whether sourcing antique home decor finds for the perfect interior design or hunting for set props like a crown or antique tableware for a period film, having a guide like Katie in a place like the Saint Ouen flea market would be SO much more fun!
Starving and in need of a decompression session we topped off our visit to the Saint Ouen flea market with a late lunch at Chez Arnaud. We snagged their last two burgers (not your average burger let me be sure to add!), accompanied them with delicious hand-cut french fries and some Coke for a caffeine kick while we reminisced over all the amazing things we saw throughout the market!
Words by Anna Beck Bimba