How to Flea Market for your Wedding, p.4: The Best French Flea Markets

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How to Flea Market for your Wedding, p.4: The Best French Flea Markets

Last week, I shared my top tips for flea marketing in Europe. Today, I thought I'd share a few of my absolute favorite markets that I would frequent while living in Europe! We lived in a pretty sweet spot, nestled in the Mosel River Valley of Germany - about 30 minutes from Luxembourg City, 30 minutes from the Belgian border and about an hour from the French border. This lovely home base meant that we had 4 European countries available to us every week for flea marketing bliss! Today I'm going to focus on my favorite French markets but next week I will highlight a few in Germany, Belgium and Holland. :)
The Porte de Vanves market in Paris
The first French market I ever visited was a bit by accident + fate - I was on an 11-day Loire Valley roadtrip with my French friend, S, and we just happened to see a marché aux puces sign for a town not too far from our b&b. We decided to squeeze it into our itinerary one morning and I'm so glad we did - it was a truly magical introduction to French fleas. The small town (Suevres) was darling and the market was held in a grassy field near the center of town. S helped me bargain in her native French tongue and together, we ended up loading up her SUV with some beautiful finds (milk pitchers, wine crates, plates, books and a Rococo-style nightstand!). After that delightful experience, I was hooked on French markets and I couldn't wait to visit more.

I started researching them online like crazy and I checked this book out from the library so often, I finally caved and ordered my own copy on Amazon. Between that little book and my hours of research, I discovered some amazing French markets. I would often try to map out markets whenever J&I or friends would roadtrip through France - they would break up the driving and give us a little something to look forward to ... it turned out, our roadtripping markets often became our favorites and made for some fabulous memories.

J&I first visited Provence for a long weekend during the spring and my mind was blown. I couldn't stop talking about the gorgeous region and it was pretty easy to convince my bestie, B, to revisit with me. We planned a week-long roadtrip and stayed in a cute house in Carpentras. And we most definitely chose to stay in Carpentras due to the fantastic weekly market they have:

Carpentras market
The town of Carpentras was beautiful and their market was no different. The vendors set up their booths along a tree-lined avenue that was beyond picturesque. Lots of demijohns and enamel kitchenware made it into our wheely carts. We also visited two markets in nearby Avignon that were great:

We also had to hit up L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue while in Provence as LSLS is known around the world as a mecca for French antique lovers. Interior designers flock to this little gem of a town to shop for their wealthy clients. The town was beyond beautiful and so were the antiques in the gorgeous boutiques. We didn't visit LSLS on a market day but I'm sure it would be a fun experience. You can see some photos I took of the town and the fabulously-staged boutiques in this post.

On a different roadtrip - one J&I took to the Eure Valley {just north of Paris} and Haute Normandy - we were constantly stumbling upon markets (mostly to J's dismay)! We discovered one en route to Rouen and two more on our way home. One was in La Roche Guyon, a town which boasts a beautiful castle and some amazing dining. Since I was behind the wheel, I quickly peeled into a parking lot and we were off to the market ...

La Roche Guyon market
I found the most beautiful French trunk (above) which is marked "Paris" and has loads of travel stickers including some to Marseilles and Lyon. J was my hero and carried the trunk through the crowded town back to our car (you can see a little bit of the castle in the background, too!).

My bestie, B, and I also loved daytripping into France so we'd often find markets that were within driving distance of where we lived. We went so often that I don't even remember the names of all of them but here's a few of our faves ...

Luttange market
The town of Luttange hosted a fun market that surrounded the 13c castle in the middle of their town. They also had some food trucks and we discovered the most delicious flammkuchen of our lives. I still dream of that deliciousness! 

One of my favorite type of French fleas is the night market. There was a small French town not too far away from us that annually hosted a night market in the summer when the sun would linger till about 11p. The market would start around 5p and go until around midnight ... we definitely brought our flashlights to this one. Night markets offer a different feel than morning and day markets - they feel much more social and often have entertainment and food available.  

Another favorite annual market of mine was Rodemack (which has also been voted "one of the most beautiful villages of France"). The small medieval village made us feel like we were in a fairytale and the market made everything feel so alive - probably my top favorite market experience in Europe:

Rodemack market
I also made a "pilgrimage" to the huge Braderie de Lille in northern France. While I had a ball spending a few days with my friends and trying moules and frites, we didn't come home with a packed truck like we normally do. You can read more about our Lille trip in this post where I did a complete review. ;)

Now what kind of French flea market guide would be complete without mentioning Paris?

The Porte de Vanves market in Paris is honestly unrivaled in my book. The fact that it's in Paris gives it an automatic leg up but the actual wares are some of the most incredible I've ever seen in my life {sumptuous vintage furs, chanel pins, original oil paintings + charcoal sketches, the list goes on}. The vendors and shoppers are often eccentric Parisians who have style and that certain je ne sais quoi pumping through their veins and are often a joy to talk with and get to know. I've visited this market on three different occasions and have never been disappointed. I've always left with a full wheely cart and a smile. Even my husband loves this market - and let me tell you, he is not a flea market maven like myself but he still enjoys the diverse wares, the fun crowd, the gorgeous Parisian boulevard and, of course, the crepe stands. ;)

Here I am scouting out some good deals at the Porte de Vanves. 

In my humble opinion, I think the Porte de Vanves market is incredibly superior to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at the Porte de Clignancourt (which everyone just refers to as Les Puces or the Paris Flea Market). I only visited Les Puces once and while it was very interesting and I'm glad I went, I didn't purchase a thing - prices were sky high. The vendors are actually more like shopkeepers as they have permanent booths and open up for the market which seemed weird and a bit unnatural for a flea market to me. It honestly felt like an establishment set up for the uber wealthy who want to say they sourced pieces at The Paris Flea Market for conversation pieces but who don't really want to get down n' dirty at a real market. Basically, I felt like it was an overrated flea market aimed at the poshest of posh crowds. It's definitely charming and worth a visit but just keep what I said in mind if and when you visit. ;)

A glimpse at Les Puces

Hope you enjoyed this peek at a few of my favorite French markets! This really only scrapes the surface of the flea marketing I did in France but I hope it whets your appetite enough that you'll want to give it a try next time you find yourself in France! And if you're a brocanting fool like I am, I'd love to hear about your favorite markets and fun experiences! xx.

Quick Tips for Flea Marketing in France

- Acquaint yourself with French terms associated with flea markets. Here's a few that should stop you in your tracks if you pass them by:
Vide Grenier (meaning 'empty the attic') This market is usually a bit like a yard sale but prices are great and you can occasionally find some gems. Stop if you have the time.
Marche aux Puces (meaning 'flea market'). I would usually brake hard if I spotted this sign. These can be hit or miss, just like in the States but that's the fun of the game!
Brocante (meaning 'second hand goods' aka antiques!) These are my favorites as they typically specialize in antiques. Jackpot!

- Now that you know the terms, you're ready to scout out those markets - whether spontaneously on the road or well-researched online before your trip. Get friendly with Google (and even more friendly with Google Translate), search the towns you'll be staying in and start hunting down those flea markets. Jot down dates and times and then try to make a loose itinerary around them.

- It never hurts to chat up the b&b owner or hotel concierge. They often know alot about what's going on locally and can be a tremendous help.

- Get knee deep in books. My absolute favorite is The Flea Markets of France by Sandy Price. It has the markets divided into regions, making it easy to decide which you'd like to hit.

ps. I didn't mention them in this post but the markets in Lyon + Metz are pretty stellar, too.

COMING UP | Next week, I'll share some of my favorite markets in Germany, Belgium and Holland. See you then!

Did you miss my previous antiquing posts? Catch up here:
The European Edition
[tips on how to navigate the markets]
... or just click on the label 'flea marketing for your wedding' to access all the posts!

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