It’s the thrill of the hunt. For decades, treasure seekers have scoured the allées of Paris’s famed flea market Marché aux Puces for vintage trinkets and eclectic furniture. To inveterate hunters and gatherers, the aha! moment of plucking bric-a-brac vintage serving pieces, an art deco sconce, textiles and quirky French hotel signage from the back of a dusty stall offers an incomparable high. But the Puces has gotten a bad rap as of late. Prices have skyrocked. Stalls have become too high-end. And dealers have been derided for their unwillingness to negotiate. The question looms: Can tourists still score without frittering away their entire food budget? Absolutely! Here is where to shop and eat at the Marché aux Puces.
Rue des Rosiers
Just as seasoned travelers dodge touristy restaurants, would-be thrifters should avoid the exorbitant prices of Paul Bert Serpette market. Not because of poor quality. Au contraire! More Sotheby’s than flea market, the antique products found in these buzzed-about passages are for interior designers and jet-setters looking to furnish second and third homes. Mere mortals should instead trawl the casual indoor and outdoor stands peppering the perimeter of the rue des Rosiers. Here, you can explore the tables and vitrines brimming with easy-to-transport, 10- to 20-euro-type knickknacks that scream “authentic French souvenir.” Best bets? Ashtrays from iconic hotels and restaurants, stylish porcelain jars and trays, small sculptures, old-school stemware and retro pastis bottles.