OK, so after our lunch, we continued to shop the fabulous flea markets of Les Puces de Saint-Ouen.
As we went up and down all the little alleys, following various twists and turns, we came to what is perhaps my favorite market of all: Vernaison...
It is by no means the fanciest, but it is (in my opinion), one of the most fun. Here, you can dig through boxes of old millinery flowers,
search through stacks of vintage fabric,
and maybe - just maybe - find yourself something spectacular.
I love the "hunt" and this market provides that to the nth degree!
Here's just some of what we stumbled upon...
Now, I am by no means an expert when it comes to the Paris flea markets (and there are plenty of good guides out there that can give you plenty of advice on the specifics - like directions, transportation, etc..), but I do have a few tips...
1. Don't try to see all the markets in one day. Honestly, it's not even really possible. If you have the time, try to spend several days exploring them.
2. Bring cash (Euros) and haggle! I didn't pay full price for anything I bought and neither should you. Just be polite and make it a reasonable offer. I don't speak French (only took one semester of it in junior high before switching to Spanish!), but most dealers are pleased if you just greet them with a nice "Bonjour". Many do speak some English, but if not, you can still communicate by writing your offer on paper - so don't forget a small pad of paper and a pen.
3. Dress nicely, but not "expensively". In other words, leave the Louis Vuitton at home. If you don't, you won't get as good a deal. Plus, it's important to note that the area surrounding the markets can be a bit sketchy.
4. Bring a large tote to carry all your purchases. This seems obvious, but it's a must. The markets are vast and lugging your precious finds for hours on end can become a bit of a pain - literally!
5. Consult your travel guide and plan where to stop for lunch ahead of time. All that shopping and walking will undoubtedly leave you hungry for a snack and you don't want a bad meal or a bad experience (see my last post).
6. It's another no-brainer, but wear comfortable shoes! Seriously! One summer, I wore what I thought were a really comfortable pair of flip-flops to the markets, but by the end of the day I was limping and had to practically use an entire box of band-aids just to make it back to the hotel.
7. Don't get too frustrated. If you're like me, you'll want to take everything home with you and this will not be possible. Unless you plan to ship a container home (how fantastic would that be!), you will probably be limited to what you can fit in your suitcases. So, shop "small" and plan ahead. We always travel with either an extra empty suitcase or a large duffel bag that we can use to transport our treasures back home. And sadly, no, that beautiful French armoire probably won't fit.