September is la rentrée – the French summer holidays are over, students return to school and tout Paris returns to work. La rentrée is a time of optimism and fresh beginnings – and treasure hunting! The world famous Paris flea market – le Marché aux Puces de Paris-Saint-Ouen – is fully reopened and restocked and ready for antique shopping – furniture, jewelery, design and vintage clothing from antiquity to the 1990’s!
As the official tour guides of the Paris flea market’s Paul Bert Serpette, Antiques Diva Guides know les Puces like the back of their hand. Head Paris Diva Guide Danielle Pelletier has some news about 2 fabulous rentrée events at les Puces that she shares below
- Puces Mon Trésor: Paris Flea Market Evening Party Sept 19
- Marché Dauphine Brunch de Rentrée: Back to Work Brunch Sept 8
If you would like to attend the Paris Flea Market Evening Party or the Brunch de Rentrée – or schedule a buying tour at Les Puces – contact us!
Meet Danielle Pelletier, Head Paris Diva Guide
Danielle Pelletier is one of our Paris Diva Guides. She was born and raised in Paris and has spent her entire life going to the famous Paris Flea Market. And while she’s always loved antiques, she graduated with a law degree and also worked as a journalist. Having lived internationally as well in both Canada as well as Switzerland, Danielle thinks with a global perspective understanding both our clients as well as the local culture in France. Whether she’s leading an Antiques Diva Tour or simply shopping for herself, you’ll find her each weekend at the Paris Flea Market. As a result she has many friends who are dealers – and that inside connection gives our Antiques Diva clients an edge when shopping the fleas. Perhaps harking back to her days as a lawyer, Danielle’s top skill set is her art of negotiating. Danielle is by nature a collector and her home is beautifully decorated with pieces picked up over the years at the Paris Flea Market. Danielle’s passion is antique perfume bottles – she loves Baccarat as well as Marcel Franck, who was the largest perfume bottle maker until the 1990’s.
PUCES MON TRESOR:
PARIS ANTIQUES MARKET, MY TREASURE
Puces Mon Trésor Opening night Thursday, 19 September 2019 at 7 pm, and from 20 – 23 September at usual opening hours
On September 19th, 2019, the Paris / Saint-Ouen antiques markets celebrate the back-to-school time with their annual festive event, featuring this year theme “My Treasure.” Our special ambassador is Vincent Darré, one of the most celebrated French designers. The 12 markets and five streets will welcome visitors during that weekend, until the end of Monday 23rd. It is a unique opportunity to (re)discover the largest second-hand bookstore in France, the street dedicated to vintage fashion, an exceptional design selection as well as highly qualified craftsperson and restorers.
Vincent Darré, who is a true Parisian, is a passionate regular visitor and knows the markets like the back of his hands. As the ambassador of this year’s event, he embodies the chic, sophisticated and extravagant spirit of the antiques market, and looks at its vibrant universe with his particular cheerful gaze. He has chosen to present several visual creations, ten sets with his own touch, for photocalls displayed all over the markets like goodie bags: Vincent Darré will invite guests and visitors to play with him according to their treasure hunt.
Treasure hunt at the Puces is a must; it is a national pleasure and a worldwide passion that has no dead season. More than 5 million people visit the markets each year, and up to 150,000 guests some weekends: the Puces is the fifth largest tourist destination in France. The markets are located in Saint-Ouen, a neighboring city North of the capital. Since 1885, this fabulous place, which is also the largest antiques market in the world, is composed of 12 private markets, owned by different owners, plus five “market-streets”, and extends on 7 hectares: a unique maze of more than 1100 antique dealers. They are all experts in their specialty – ceramic, furniture, chandeliers, archeology, paintings, sculptures, vintage fashion, fashion accessories, fashion jewelry, silver ware, glassware, advertising posters and signs, vinyl records, vintage hi-fi… They all work in a booth, a house, a warehouse or even an entire street. Neophytes indulge themselves in this incredible labyrinth, whilst insiders stimulate their eye and nose. Everybody is happy to get either a sentimental souvenir or an exceptional piece that might end up in a prestigious antiques fair like Basel or Maastricht, in a private collection or even a museum.
The Puces is a lifestyle destination in its own right, yet intensely Parisian, a village in the big city: it has its own vendors, restorers, restaurants, bistros, hotels, etc. But mostly it has its humanity, made of singular destinies. From famous clients browsing the streets incognito to the most demanding interior designers, from the most unexpected collectors to the most viral influencers, from enlightened amateurs to the most radical designers, the regular customers compose the best of taste and cultures. The Puces is also a formidable source of talent building: some vendors and art dealers who run the most prestigious Parisian addresses, like Alexandre Biaggi, Pierre Passebon, Jacques Lacoste, Aline Chaste-Maréchal, Jean-Jacques Dutko started as vendors at the Puces. Some of them even go from a modest booth to the most famous Salons and Biennales in the world.
This exceptional tradition will be perpetuated with the International Antiques Dealers School, due to open in 2022, for which the MAP – Marché aux Puces, the alliance of the 12 antiques markets – has won the competition organized by Paris and the Region. Many of the decorative mainstreams were born in the Puces, many forgotten styles, periods and designers have been – and still are – rehabilitated.
All of this take a part in the popularity of our famous antiques market and make it the place to visit when in Paris, whether the visitor is an interior designer, a stylist, a gallerist, an architect, a journalist, a treasure hunter or a collector. Starting with the Astier de Villatte, relentless treasure hunters, who wrote “Ma vie aux Puces,” an addition to “Ma vie à Paris,” their guide where they give out their favorite addresses (sold at the Office du Tourisme in the heart of the Puces).
1. VENDORS: BEST OF THE BEST
From the early days, the Antiques Market vendors are the soul, the consciousness, the liveliness and the very vitality. Some of them have made a fortune, some have made a name for themselves. Others learned their way before opening their own gallery “in town.” Alexandre Biaggi, Pierre Passebon, Jacques Lacoste, Aline Chastel-Maréchal, Jean-Jacques Dutko, they all started at the Puces. The Puces vendors start trends, revive fashions, re-boost forgotten talents. Sometimes, a vendor finds a piece that will end up in a prestigious fair, in Basel or Maastricht, at PAD or Paris Biennale. It is the case for Maison Steinitz, a major vendor at the Puces for three generations: they supply exceptional pieces to the greatest museums worldwide, such as the Louvre or the New York Met, on top of being part of the major fairs like Brussels, San Francisco and Paris.
Not all the vendors were born a vendor, although a lot of them are second, third or even fourth generation. If you talk to them, you will discover that many had another life before the Puces, whether they activity was in the bank, advertising, publishing, music, real estate. Some of them come from foreign countries, cultures, horizons, like this Egyptian man who has become a specialist of Napoleon III furniture. Most of the 1100 Antiques Market vendors are ultra-specialized. Even better: they are experts. Some have had a book published like Ben Ramognigo and Marc Mineray, who wrote a monograph on Quasar Khanh, a most creative designer.
Their chosen fields of expertise are sometimes so advanced they can sound surreal: Cheese brands key rings; 1949 – 1970 French silverware; 1950s swim caps; antique US jacket and workman underwear; Luxury brand jewelry and artist sets from the 1980s; vernacular gardening tools; Furs and shoes; 1925s embroidered linen; argentic photo material; 18th century locks; Oriental rugs and Lurçat rugs; 1950s debutant ball gowns; antique men’s watches; rattan garden furniture; store signs. Or ancient books like the ones found in the maze of “Librairie de l’Avenue,” which is authentically the largest second-hand bookstore in France and spans on 600 m2 and offers 1 km shelving. Whether it is a micro-booth or a whole house, several connecting booths or a warehouse, or even a whole street like the luxury vintage shop Chez Sarah (1920s to 1970s fashion), isolated in miscellany or gathered in a single market like vinyl records in Marché Dauphine, design in Paul Bert / Serpette, antique toys in Vernaison, these targeted destinations are highly valued by collectors and amateurs. The merchants’ law, ruled by eclecticism, surprise, discovery, is here in the hands of their clients, interior designers, stylists, gallerists, architects, journalists, bargain hunters, collectors, coming from next door or the other side of the world.
2. THE PUCES: A VILLAGE WITHIN THE CITY
Paris / Saint-Ouen Antiques Market is not solely a vendor’s haven, it is a real village that sustains 3000 families. You can find there a whole network of restorers and craftsmen, some of them in booths in the heart of the markets. Add the shippers, the delivery guys, and a new type of trade: the certified guides and personal shoppers at the Puces. Among the different craftsmen you will find gilders, pedestal makers, goldsmiths, cabinet makers, upholsterers, painters, painting restorers as well as leather casing activities. The shippers offer to ship the goods you purchased, with insurance, and deliver them throughout the world at a preferred rate. Some of their offices are located in the markets, which makes transactions and quoting a lot easier for the clients. If you need assistance to be guided and helped for your antiquing, you can trust one of the six antiques guides and personal shoppers certified by the MAP (The Puces markets organization); they are all fully bilingual and know the markets like the back of their hands, and they will take you to the best vendors according to your needs.
What would a village be without restaurants and hotels? In the vicinity, you will find 32 restaurants and 6 hotels to meet your taste. You can have lunch among the vendors, taste some exceptional wines or eat with live music on, sleep in the heart of the Puces or in a hideaway in a secret garden. The Puces has it all!
You can find the complete list on our website http://bit.ly/lespuces-informations
3. THE PUCES: NUMBERS AND PROJECTS
The Paris / Saint-Ouen Antiques Market is the only one of its kind in the world. Unparalleled in its field, it is a major tourist destination, ranking fifth after Euro Disney, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre. More than 5 million people visit the markets each year, and some weekends up to 150,000 onlookers come to smell the scent of the times passed – past starts in 1999 -, capture the new trends, fall for treasures, get excited on an appealing object.
Like any self-respecting market, the MAP generates a revenue, estimated between 400 and 500 million euros a year. It is a little more than Drouot, the famous auction house that announced a turnover of 376 million euros for 2018, and almost twice as much as Sotheby’s with a turnover of 251.4 million euros in 2018 or Artcurial with their 200 million euros. For example, the combined turnover of the 10 major French auction houses in 2019 represents a total of 463 million euros at the end of the first semester. Open four days a week – two of which are normally for trades – the MAP generates thousands of transactions, ranging from 1 euro to over one million euros several times a year.
By the end of this year, the MAP will have a new commercial tool available on its new official website, as of the second fortnight of September 2019. In the beginning of 2020, a market-place is due to be issued in French and English. The vendors who have agreed to this new sales channel will be able to present one or several pieces at a preferred price and to bargain with the client live. This unprecedented large-scale project initiates a new era without hampering the intimate pleasure of treasure hunting in this endless goldmine.
Another significant future event is the launching of the Ecole Internationale des Antiquaires des Puces – the International Puces Antiques Dealers School, due to open in 2022-2023. This project, which will move the Puces forward in the 21st century, has been successfully won by the MAP in June 2019, awarded in accordance with the Greater Paris Project. The school will train a new generation of vendors recognized by a National Degree. It will be located Porte de Clignancourt.
4. TIMELESS ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY, THE PUCES DNA
Before the Puces even existed, recycling was part of the Parisian society culture. This process was performed by ragmen, officially authorized to collect second hand usual objects, who sorted out and sold them to plants and workshops as a source material for reprocessing and transformation. The new existence of this raw material was then a matter of taste, artistic flair, good eye and creativity of their new owners. In 1904, the daily collection made by the Parisian ragmen provided them an income of 50,000 gold francs a year. After the Second World War and the shortage of goods, this type of recycling gets in full swing. The Antiques Market is by essence a component of environmental responsibility with regards to furniture, decorative arts and textile. Of course, not each and every one of piece of furniture, curio, lighting, object, clothing, has been produced with our modern standards of environmental sensibility, but they are now fully part of it. Everybody, vendor or client, is aware of this virtuous circle which incorporates pure affect, slow-consumerism, sustainability as well as an elegant fight against planned obsolescence. Sometimes all it takes is just a skilled restoration or a meticulous repair to revive its use. Journalists Katell Pouliquen and Nathalie Dolivo devoted a complete separate chapter of their book “Rétro-cool: comment le vintage peut sauver le monde” – published by Flammarion – to Paris/Saint-Ouen Antiques Market.
5. LIFESTYLE LES PUCES
From the ragmen dashed off as literary or poetic figures by Victor Hugo, Eugene Sue or Aristide Bruant to allegoric bargain hunter in the songs performed by Jean Ferrat or Joe Dassin, the Puces have always been a fantastic pool of personalities and talents building a phenomenal cloud of references, cultural legacy, anecdotes and human history. Poets, cartoonists, caricaturists, composers, movie makers: they all left an emotional footprint which is part of the strong Parisian identity – foreign visitors adore that.
Yesterday Colette, Colette, Anna de Noailles, André Breton, Zadkine, Francis Carco, Blaise Cendrars, MacOrlan paved the way to this «passionate pilgrimage place», described by Anatole Jakovsky, an art critic and author of “Paris, mes Puces”. Doisneau and Willy Ronis gave it a face. In the 1970/1980s, you could have bumped into fashion and haute-couture elite. Actresses like Andrée Debar or Sophie Desmarets would scour the markets on a regular basis to furnish their cottage, mansion or even store in the Village Suisse or Galerie du Bon Marché.
Stars – anonymous yet not too much – can browse the alleys without being identified. Sophie Marceau, Arielle Dombasle, Virginie Efira, Vanessa Paradis, Charlotte Gainsbourg, etc… Brad Pitt and George Clooney are regulars. Pierre Gagnaire, Vanessa Bruno, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Lenny Kravitz, Pierre Arditi, too. Sophie Fontanel, Thierry Ardisson, Alain Ducasse and Chantal Thomass, attested to their regularity: they agreed to be filmed for the theme “J’aime les Puces” – “I love the Puces”.
Nowadays, the Puces is the playground of many movie makers, such as Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris” in 2011, the Bollywood film “Befikre” featuring the Indian stars Ranveer Sigh and Vaani Kapoor in 2016, or the latest movie of the Chinese film maker Leo Zhang “The Hunting” due to be issued in 2020 (many scenes were shot in Vernaison market).
For an exhaustive list of the movies shot in the Puces, the Astier de Villatte movie, and many testimonies, visit here.
ANTIQUES CIRCUS: A STORY IN ITSELF
Since October 2001, the Paris/Saint Ouen Antiques Market has the status of Urban and Landscape Architectural Heritage Protection Zone – the one and only in the world with free entrance! Its roots go deep into the history of the ragmen work. The guild, counting about 11,000 souls and handling 75,000 kilos of goods, was reassessed in 1883 after the police commissioner Eugène Poubelle orders all Parisians to use iron garbage bins with tight lids. The commissioner finally allows them, between midnight and five AM, to pick up their merchandise from what was already called “poubelles” – now a common French word for garbage bin. This plunder was then displayed in the different market, like those of “La Mouffe” (Mouffetard), Aligre and Porte de Clignancourt. Porte de Clignancourt was an unbuildable military zone located outside the old fortifications. After the Montmartre territory was absorbed by the city of Paris, the village of Saint-Ouen was adjacent to the big city. It had become an industrial town with a population thirty times what it was only a few years before. The mayor was Alexis Godillot, who established tanneries and military shoes manufactures. When expelled from Paris, the ragmen seek refuge in Clignancourt, adjoining Saint-Ouen, connected by a train line and two lines of the new Métro. They will settle among circus, amusement booths, bars, and open-air cafés.
In 1898, a new rule specifies that a “brocanteur” – junkman – is a “reseller of old furniture, ragged textile, books, jewelry, tableware, and other objects and random merchandise.” Soon the place will be browsed by Parisians from wealthy neighborhoods and Belle Epoque high society, who come every Sunday to have fun in bargaining, among an incredible bric-a-brac, some treasures. The first ragmen union is created. The newspapers reflect this particular lifestyle, “this picturesque Court of Miracles, this jungle where snobbish bourgeois and thugs mingle.” The term “flea market” appeared around 1904 from an anonymous source. In 1910, the Puces’ fame is definitely under the spotlights when the satirical magazine “l’Assiette au Beurre” published a full issue illustrated by Poulbot figure. And the legend is born.
When the fortifications are torn down, in 1920, the Puces (by the way, it spells with a capital letter from then on), move to Saint-Ouen, where the municipal authority responds favorably to this extraordinary human and cultural mix which sustains hundreds of families. Though entrenched, the Puces remain precarious and their future uncertain, in spite of their success. The English lifestyle dictates the idea of weekend; the Saturday and Sunday opening time doubles the attendance. The vacant lots and wasteland become a property financial issue. This is how the first enclosed markets appear. The first one opens in 1920: Romain Vernaison, an ex-licensee of Les Halles parking places, who rents chairs in Paris public parks, owns a 12 000 m2 land where he stores his chairs. He develops the idea of building pre-fab cabins and rent them to brocanteurs. Then Marché Biron is built, inaugurated in 1925 by Saint-Denis Brocanteurs Union, expelled from Clignancourt. Its nickname is “Les Belles Puces,” before being considered as the Puces ’Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Biron was the first Saint-Ouen Brocante Fair, as well as the first market to sell restored antique pieces. Is becomes a more elegant destination visited by the fashion and arts elite, and launches the trend for African Primitive arts. That very same year, 1925, following a municipal decision, the Puces are open from Saturday to Monday. The Merchant Guild is comprised of 120 members; 300 more dealers, who remain “free,” are gathered in the markets. Around the market, the landscape changes drastically when Citroën and Wonder open their plant. The bars, bistros and eateries operate at full capacity. In 1938, Amedeo Cesana, a Venetian vendor, opens the Jules Vallès market. In between had opened two more markets which are destroyed in 1942. After WWII, the Puces remains a dark spot on the outskirts of the City of Lights, a maze of shacks where nothing is insured against fire or theft. In 1946, Paul Bert market opens on rue des Rosiers, in the space formerly occupied by a garage. It is very innovative, with its 200 12m2 booths. The definitive shaped will be rebuilt in 1954. At that time, the Puces, spreading over 4.5 hectares among which 2.8 are occupied by the private markets – Vernaison, Biron, Jules Vallès etc., become an irresistible attraction again. Recycling is everywhere, enhanced by the windfall of US stocks. The ragmen have prospered. Some of them are even rich. The Puces have become a “Fantastic curiosity” and antiques dealers are now settling in. The clientele has changed, more and more international, posher and posher.
In the late 1960/1970s, the Puces sustains, not including the vendors, 2800 people among whom 400 trades, all living in the vicinity. The Puces widens when more markets open- Marché Cambo, Marché des Rosiers, Hall de la Brocante – the occupancy surface expands to 7 hectares, still remaining to this day. In 1977, Alain Serpette, the son of a vendor, opens another covered market: Marché Serpette, built without construction license… Marché Cambo, burnt down in 1990, is rebuilt in 1993. Marché Malassis, opened in 1989, is an antiques dealer market with underground parking; it is the only one built by architects. Two years later, the newly built Marché Dauphine accommodates 150 vendors under its Les Halles-style skylight.
The Paris/Saint-Ouen Antiques Market also includes micro-markets like Antica, an enclave located in Vernaison perimeter, L’Entrepôt, or Le Passage and L’Usine, and brings together the five market-streets like rue des Rosiers, Lécuyer, Jules Vallès, Paul-Bert and Impasse Simon. The total number of vendors is 1100, most of them highly specialized and expert in their fields.
GLOSSARY: HOW TO SPEAK “PUCES”
- Do not pretend you are interested in a piece different from the one you want.
- Do not say in front of the vendor: “My grandma had the same,” or, when he gave you a price “oh! I should have kept mine.”
- Price: it is of the essence to understand that at the Puces, price is never a problem, there is always a smart way to pay. Which translates by: you bargain, negotiate, make friend, you show your curiosity you thank the vendor, you come back.
- I come to see an object: it is the favorite sentence used by interior designers hunting for a piece they already spotted – and negotiated – as an excuse when they bump into a colleague or competitor.
- The “biffin”: an old Parisian slang word for ragman. Nowadays the correct word is not antique dealer, flea guy, brocanteur, but “Marchand” – vendor.
- “Biffe” is what was found in the garbage bins in the streets. “Came” is the general word for inventory, regardless what style, period, condition etc.
- 20th century “came”: everything created during the second half of the 20th century, including all the modern design from the end of WWII to 1999. DO NOT use the word “vintage” for furniture or design, but you can use it for fashion. ”Bidouille”: everything poorly restored or tampered.
- ”Rossignol”: this word is used for anything flawed, wobbly… and irreparable.
- ”Déchirade” or “Chopin”: the “bingo” piece, the miracle find you buy for a few euros but know it is worth a thousand times more.
- “Caramel”: the piece impossible to sell, like glued to the vendor’s stand for years and years.
- “Dérouille”: everything that has finally been sold.
- ”The iron stick”: used for a complicated client, hard to convince.
- “The hand breaker”: the first sale of the day, whatever the time is.
- The “déballovitch” is used for the early bird client, the “remballovitch” for the last-minute client.
Puces Mon Trésor
- September 19th, 2019 from 7 to 11 PM
- September 21st, from 9AM to 6PM, September 22nd from 10 AM to 6 PM, and September 23rd from 11 AM to 5 PM
- Vincent Darré’s scenery and exhibitions will remain until October 21st, 2019
The rest of the year…
Open Saturday 9 to 6, Sunday 10 to 6, Monday 11 to 5.
Open to the trades Friday morning.
Agence Véronique Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org +33 (0)1 47 03 15 87
David Giroire Communication email@example.com +33 1 84 79 18 09
Office de Tourisme in the heart of the Puces Paris/Saint-Ouen 124, rue des Rosiers, 93 400 Saint-Ouen
Guided visits organized by Office du Tourisme, informations at +33 1 55 87 67 50. Certified Personal Shoppers and guides: list available here.
• Porte de Clignancourt, ligne 4 – Garibaldi, ligne 13
• 56, 60, 85, 95, 137, 166, 255, PC 3, Laudonienne (Circulaire) Saint-Ouen
• Porte de Clignancourt or Porte de Saint-Ouen or Porte Montmartre
• 6 parkings available in the Marché aux Puces
TRADUCTION EFFECTUEE PAR DANIELLE PELLETIER, ACCOMPAGNATRICE POUR LE SITE ANTIQUES DIVA & CO.
Back To Work Brunch at Marché Dauphine
Les marchands, antiquaires, galeristes et artistes de Dauphine vous invitent au brunch de rentrée le dimanche 8 septembre
Vendors of les Puces’ Marché Dauphine are hosting a Back To Work Brunch de Rentrée for the September Maison & Objet design trade fair:
- Sunday, September 8th
- central aisle of Marché Dauphine
If you would like to attend the Puces Mon Trésor Evening Party or the Brunch de Rentrée – or schedule a buying tour at Les Puces – contact us!
Vive la Rentrée! Viva les Puces!
Toma – The Antiques Diva