On Saturday I had my first vintage shopping trip! The lovely Jen from Pretty Little Pictures, a fellow seamstress and vintage lover, is currently in France (she lives in Australia) and when she wrote a post on WeSewRetro asking if anyone would like to meet I jumped in. Someone recommended she made a trip to the big flea market in Saint Ouen (north of Paris), known as Les Puces de Saint Ouen, and I offered to accompany her if she planned to go. I had never been there and thought it might be fun. She did want to go, so we spent a few hours there on Saturday and it sure was fun! I’ll split my report (with pictures) in several parts, so that you have a chance of reading it before next month…
After my train being (of course!) delayed due to several minor incidents I finally was able to meet her around 10:30 in the north of Paris. Luckily the weather (which is being rather fickle lately) was really nice, so we were able to walk to the market while chatting. We were both wearing handmade circle skirts and had a little Marilyn moment while passing over a kind of grid on the pavement, which I would have gladly avoided, so be careful with those… After that incident we kept getting worried about our skirts at every wind blow. The flea market of Saint Ouen is quite big, and actually divided in several markets spread along three streets in the south of the city. Each market is quite different from the others, in size, style of items and more importantly in architecture/organization and atmosphere. It was really funny how each one feels quite different. I had done some research on the Internet beforehands and took notes with me, so we had an idea of where to go. We avoided the most expensive historical furniture and art ones, to concentrate on the cheaper and most flea-market like ones. We started with the Vernaison Market, which I really liked. It is the oldest one and they say it remains true to the original style of the flea markets. It’s outdoors, quite big and divided in tiny passageways bordered by little shops. You can really get lost in there if you’re not cautious! I have know idea of what this market’s map would look like, but it sure felt like we turned a lot. The pictures below were taken there.
The shops are quite varied here. We found a few selling vintage clothes, lace or sewing notions, and a lot were just offering a mix of different things among which you can hope to find some of those. In a shop that was mainly sewing furniture we stumbled upon a box full of embroidery patterns with some sewing patterns and magazines mixed in. It was like digging in a treasure box. I did my first vintage clothes shopping at this market, I’ll tell you more on what I got in another post. After leaving this market we were quite hungry and stopped in an italian restaurant for lunch. If you ever go there, it’s a little further up the street, after the Dauphine market. It was quite nice and seems to be actually owned by italian people. We then went back a little to visit the aforementioned Dauphine market. This one is indoor, with a big glass roof. It’s divided in straight alleys bordered by shops on two levels. We found an incredible vintage clothes shop there! They had pieces from the 19th century! They had very nice dresses on display on mannequins (which made us want to check it in the first place). They also sell reproductions of victorian boots in limited series. All the outfit pictures shown below were taken there and you can find a few more on my flickr.
There were quite a few other vintage clothes shops, although smaller and not as impressive as this one. And also a little shop specializing in printed materials: old advertisements and drawings but also old magazines and patterns! We spent quite some time there, it was really hard to decide what to get (although Jen has been very reasonable, I was impressed). We found another shop after that also had magazines, patterns and notions.
After this market we went to the Serpette Market. It’s quite expensive and not what we were looking for, but they currently have a wedding dresses exhibition there that we wanted to check. You’ll get pictures in the next post. This market is indoor without natural light and the atmosphere was really different from the other two, not as friendly and nice. We then went to briefly check two other smaller markets in the other streets, which we didn’t like as much. The Passage Market has a big vintage clothes shop (I think it takes at least 1/3 of the place!) but it seemed to be lots of designer pieces, so more expensive. And we couldn’t take pictures of the window! We then headed back to Paris, as we were a tiny bit tired from walking all the day. The contrast between the flea market’s atmosphere, with all it old things, and the bordering street we took to go home with its streetwear market merchants was a little weird.
As you can guess I had a really nice time. I loved the flea market and spent a really nice moment with Jen, whom I’m happy to know. She’s a very nice and friendly person and it was fun to discover the market with her and share some time with a fellow vintage-inspired seamstress. I guess I’ll go back to Saint Ouen now that I know it, but I’m afraid it won’t be as fun to go alone. But if you’re ever in the neighborhood and like vintage stuff, I definitely recommend you to go check it out!