Tell Me About Your First Time Giveaway

Antiques Diva Tell Me About Your 1st Time at the Paris Flea Market giveaway

When Was Your 1st Time?

Antiques Diva Tell Me About Your 1st Time at the Paris Flea Market giveawayWe all remember our first time. For me, I was 25 and I had just moved to Paris. It happened on a Sunday morning in September. I had eaten a croissant for breakfast with a big bowl of café au lait at Les Deux Magots. The weather had a nip in the air and though summer barely seemed behind me I was already wearing a sweater and scarf. I took the métro all by myself to the end of line 4, the Porte de Clignancourt. Exiting the station I was afraid. It was a part of Paris I’d never visited before. I wished I wasn’t alone. I wished I had a friend to guide me through the market. I put on my sunglasses and pushed my way through the crowds working my way under the peripherique to the Rue de Rosiers.

And for the first time in my life I visited the Paris Flea Market.

And it changed my life. I’d always loved antiques. I grew up with a mother who decorated using antiques, vintage and just plain second-hand finds to decorate our home and I had an appreciation for all things unique and old. I didn’t want my house to look like the neighbors. I wanted my home to reflect me. My unique taste, showing pieces from my travels, telling stories of far away places without the need for words to be spoken.  Just as I wanted to live a life less ordinary, I wanted my home to be less ordinary. I was going to the Paris Flea Market to buy a souvenir… not a t-shirt, or even a trinket… but a but a souvenir in the true sense of the French word… a memory.

I wanted to bring a piece of Paris home and put her on my mantel.

Arriving the Paris Flea Market I was greeted by an entire world beyond my comprehension. Lessons in the Louis leaped out of the alleyways… was that a Louis 15 or 16th armchair? How do I tell the difference? An Antiques Dealer told me, “It’s all about the LEGS” and forevermore I was a leg girl, seeking the turn of the ankle to tell my Rococo from the neoclassical. Vintage jewelry longed to come home with me. Postcards, passementerie, pillows, paintings and all sorts of Parisian chic clamored for my attention.

I bought a simple Empire era teapot.

I was living in a temporary apartment in St Germain des Pres at the time and each night before bed I would brew myself a pot of caramel tea and sit on the sofa practicing my verb conjugations. Je Suis, Tu es, Vous etes…  7 years later when I started my company The Antiques Diva & Co that teapot wound its way into my original logo – the profile of a woman’s head looking at a teapot – my first purchase at the Paris Flea Market.

my 1st Antiques Diva Co logo depicts the teapot I purchased my first time at the Paris Flea MarketI’ve long since broken that teapot, but the excitement of that first purchase never left me and I’ve filled apartment after apartment with purchases from les Puce. A seasoned shopper at the Puce de Paris, my company is now the exclusive official guide of the Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette. I sometimes feel I’ve lived a lifetime since that day at the end of my first week living in Europe nearly 17 years ago… but I still remember my first time.

Do you remember yours? When was your first time at The Paris Flea Market? What did you buy? What did you think? How did you feel? What did you eat? Did you wish you had a Diva Guide to take you by the hand or were you lucky enough to experience your first time on the arm of The Antiques Diva & Co?

#TellMeAboutYourFirstTime To celebrate 17 years since my first visit to the Paris Flea Market, this September we are holding an Antiques Diva First Time at the Paris Flea Market giveaway!!!

How To Enter:

To enter The Antiques Diva & Co Tell Me About Your First Time at the Paris Flea Market giveaway:
leave a comment on this blog and #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime at the #ParisFleaMarket

  • open to Diva readers over age 18

There are 5 Chances to Win!

UPDATE September 28:
Derrick Ricketts of Aidan Gray Home was so excited when he heard about our #ParisFleaMarket GiveAway that he donated an additional prize!

What the Winners Receive:

One Grand Prize Winner: VIP Paris Flea Market Tour

The Antiques Diva and Paris Diva Guides
The Antiques Diva and Paris Diva Guides

The Grand Prize winner receives a Gift Certificate for a VIP Antiques Diva Day Tour at the Paris Flea Market with one of our Parisian Diva Guides including LUNCH at our favorite restaurant in Paul Bert Serpette and a Champagne Toast to finish the tour. You’ll also receive an Antiques Diva tote bag to carry your purchases!

One First Place Winner will win a Paris Flea Market Candlestick by Aidan Gray

European candlestick inspired by Aidan Gray’s antique buying tours in France with AD&CO:
The candlestick is hand-carved and hand-finished, with a removable rusted metal drip plate and a heavily distressed finish.

Paris Flea Market Candlestick by Aidan GrayThree 1st RunnerUp Prize Winners: DesignHER by Julianne Taylor

Toma Clark Haines with DesignHER author Julianne Taylor
Toma Clark Haines with DesignHER author Julianne Taylor

Not coming to Paris anytime soon… don’t worry… we’ve got three 1st prizes! Regular readers and social media fans might remember I was recently featured in a fabulous new book on women entrepreneurs who are changing the world of interior design – DesignHER, featuring a chapter on me, Toma Clark Haines The Antiques Diva, and autographed by me and design darling and DesignHER author Julianne Taylor.

Winners of the Paris Flea Market First Time Story giveaway
will be judged by Julianne Taylor of Taylor Burke!

Prizes Awarded October 25, 2016

  • Gift Certificate Redeemable until December 2018 and transferrable.
  • DesignHER books to be delivered to winners via parcel post in November 2016.

Good Luck!  #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime

Toma Clark Haines is The Antiques Diva

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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

37 thoughts on “Tell Me About Your First Time Giveaway”

  1. Drum Roll Please…
    And the winner of the Tell Me About Your First Time At the Paris Flea Market Giveaway is
    Grand Prize 1 Day Tour at the Paris Flea Market Bev Martinets,
    1st Prize Aidan Gray Paris Flea Market CandleStick Daphne Dunn,
    3 Runner Ups – DesignHer book by Julianne Taylor
    Jenny Conklin
    Suzette Barrister
    Ruthie Staalsen
    Congratulations on winning!!! And thank you so much for your entries!!!
    Toma Clark Haines – Aka – The Antiques Diva
    https://antiquesdiva.com/antiques-diva/the-winners-of-our-paris-flea-market-giveaway

  2. A little late, but it seems like worth sharing anyway with such a readership of kindred spirits!

    Back in my college days I was living in the Paris area, working on my French fluency, which was required for my college degree. Graduation was coming up, and I wasn’t yet confident in my French language skills, so I got a job near Paris and spent an amazing 6 months experiencing life as a local.

    During that summer, I spent most of my one day off a week in Paris, wandering the streets in search of places off the radar of most tourists, those more “authentic” experiences that just can’t be found in any guidebooks. Without the Internet, Trip Advisor and other modern day resources that are now so often at our fingertips, I found Paris a hard city to get to know on a more personal level. Until one day I decided to check out the Paris Flea market!

    When I finally did find Les Puces, I could tell that I had found one of the truly unique Parisian experiences! It was so hard to locate, and such a teeming mass of all shapes, sizes and colors of people. It was a little intimidating squeezing between all the crowds. I worried about getting my pockets picked! The variety of goods on offer was so widely varying, everything from cheap knock-off purses, to large assortments of items from “Grandma’s Attic.”

    I grew up with a Father who was an Antique and Collectibles Dealer. This must have honed in me an appreciation for things from a bygone era. So, at Les Puces, I found I much preferred the “Grandma’s Attic” merchandise. I was so intrigued by the cultures and the different ways of life that were represented by this bric-a-brac! This, I thought to myself, would be the perfect place to find a few small souvenirs of my time in Paris and France that would convey the stories of my travels and experiences better than any words. Not one for the usual souvenir t-shirts and statues of the Tour Eiffel, Les Puces offered me a chance to find more memorable souvenirs that might also be able to be used in my future home.

    I remember spending hours perusing different stalls. Nothing was too small or insignificant to garner a look. I remember glass cases filled with glistening jewelry (real and costume), war medals and stunning cloisonné pins of all descriptions. Vintage clothing, antique dolls, vintage dishes and cookware . . . the possibilities were seemingly endless! At booths like this, one could browse relatively unrushed and unhurried as the crowds were more interested in the newer trinkets found closer to the Peripherique.

    One of the most surprising of my discoveries in the Les Puces was a booth selling vintage Marching Band uniforms. One day I had taken an American friend there who was a long-time “band geek” in high school and college. And, while going through a rack of these old marching band uniforms she came across a group of uniforms from her high school Alma Mater! We were so amazed that we both each bought one of the brass buttoned jackets, with “Berea High School” emblazoned across the back! So now we know what happens to old band uniforms when they are no longer needed!

    Les Puces was a world not so different from flea markets at home, of which I had seen many in childhood. But, it was just so VAST, I wished I had had a guide to help me suss out the gems from the more common, the memorable from the mundane. I don’t think I ever came across the Paul Bert Serpette, or any of the other more exclusive parts of the market, while on my own in those days.

    Three years ago, while a friend was studying photography in Paris for the summer, I had the opportunity to visit her and rediscover the markets at Porte de Cligancourt anew. Would Les Puces live up to my memories from my college days? How would the merchandise have changed, or be the same? My friend and I were both beyond excited to go there and find out!

    I had been living in Europe for several years and discovered again the joys of the hunt for memorable objects from former times. Unlike during my college years which were before the days of the Internet, my friend and I had the benefit of using the Internet in researching flea markets in Paris. And it was possibly even more confusing than it had been in my college days! Nevertheless, we persevered and finally did locate Les Puces.

    The throngs of immigrants around the train station were still there, as if standing guard to prevent anyone but the most dedicated antique enthusiast from breaking through and finding the nirvana that awaited a few blocks away at Paul Bert Serpette and other more exclusive parts of the market. Amid wire shopping carts piled high with stoves for cooking corn-on-the-cob or chestnuts, women in the sunny colors of the African continent mixed with young men selling knock-off watches, sunglasses and purses.

    In contrast, once we finally found the more exclusive antique dealers, those alleys seemed to be nearly deserted, only the most discriminating buyers daring to tread the aisles that were lined with gleaming Empire antiques enough to fill a royal treasury! We zigged and zagged from architectural salvage vendors to more traditional antique dealers to vintage furniture and clothing stores, and finally ending up at a lively café in the neighborhood for some welcome refreshment.

    Sadly, I must report one that “got away” from this more recent expedition. A stunning buffet or side-board really caught my eye that was made of some very dark, rare, wood and intricately carved with so many tiny nooks and crannies that the outer surface almost resembled lace. The dealer explained that it was a 17th century piece from a Portuguese manor. All I knew was it reminded me of furniture in a villa we had stayed at in Portugal several years ago. The connection to my memories and personal experience was undeniable! The price was more than I had ever spent before, but astoundingly low considering it was a rare kind of wood and the amount of craftsmanship that had gone into it. Unfortunately, I was in Paris with only a suitcase and train ticket that time, and had no way to get this precious object back home. The dealer was unable to assist either. So, I left without that sideboard and have been looking for another one ever since (unsuccessfully). How I wished I had a contact who was familiar with antique shipping services! Well, now that I know of the Antiques Diva, I do! And, I hope to be able to experience some Paris Flea shopping with one of the Diva guides some day before we move back to the US.

  3. I only knew of the Marché through movies, books and monographs of interior designers and I was eager to experience it for myself.
    Where do I begin? How do I even plan?
    I have dug through many antique shops, stalls, malls, yard and garage sales but I had a car and a passport and French wasn’t required to find those treasures.
    I researched online, through designer resource guides but felt incredibly uncomfortable as I had only Saturday to accomplish the Metro ride and shop and I was feeling nervous about my school-boy French only practiced with foreign films since High School.
    It was 2010 and I was just starting twitter and wondered if a tweet asking for help would get any credible responses.
    A follower responded tagging The Antiques Diva and I immediately went to the website through the profile and started reading about Toma Haines herself.
    Some background about me: I am from a small town in Pennsylvania where I stared by obsession with vintage and antique pieces went into university graduating with an Architecture Degree and am now based in New York City practicing as an Interior Designer who happens to have an Architecture Degree. My work involves mixing new with old, deluxe with casual projecting the personalities of the clients into the space. I wanted to extend my reach beyond what I could discover stateside and begin sourcing antiques in Europe that grace the windows of dealers up and down the Upper East Side.
    In the process of exploring The Antique Diva website, I was alerted that there was a reply from
    Toma herself!
    I have known Toma for six years now and not only is she an incredible resource but a dear friend who shares the passion of antiques and I have the pleasure of seeing her many times during the year.
    In planning my trip to Paris and blocking Saturday for Les Puce, I was experiencing a level of anxiety not knowing what to expect for the day’s events. I had arrived several days before to get over my jet lag, brush up on my French and visit the famed museum-quality antique dealers on the left bank in full view of the louvre.
    I was taught very well that the key to successfully antiquing is to arrive hopeful but with zero expectations.
    Waking up early Saturday to get properly caffeinated, my door buzzer went in my rented flat and Kim introduced herself as my guide for the day.
    We hit it off and on our metro to the Fleamarket talked nonstop about her being an American expat (who speaks amazing French), our shared passion for antiques, and a primer on how we will go about the day.
    She inquired if there historical periods, types of pieces I wanted, budget range and my basic stamina level.
    I responded with how much I wanted to learn about the Marché and she using my interests plotted a course mentally of how we would navigate the day. Thankfully she made sure to build in lunch into the schedule with the forethought of me needing time to digest visually (not just the amazing food and wine) what I saw in the morning to plan the afternoon and if we needed to revisit any vendors.
    Upon exiting the metro, it felt as if I had stepped into another world. The weather not feeling Paris-like (I have come to find out that it is actually very common weather in Paris) with the wind, chill and drizzle and cast a grayness to everything. Surrounding the metro exit were ramshackle lean-to sheds, multitudes hawking what appeared to be junky knock-offs and it was enormous and heavily populated. Even in the dismal weather.
    Was this a joke that all of the interpretations of Les Puce were fabrications?
    Kim winked, opened an umbrella and then chuckled following with, “This is not the Marché. Stick close to me as we need to go through this and then we will arrive.”
    I looked at her with great anxiety but shrugged knowing she navigated the metro without a map to get us to the end of the line and found my flat in the maze that is Les Quartiers Latin to pick me up. I was caffeinated and thought if this really was it – maybe there was treasure – somewhere?
    Kim took me by the elbow and we swept through umbrella up and as the hawkers tried to engage me, she responded quickly in French that no, I really wasn’t interested in blue jeans, knock off handbags or jewelry and we sped past the people and stalls and then beneath the overpass and that is where I discovered the Fleamarket actually begins.
    Armed with great patience, Kim began to guide me to the pre-arranged vendors she thought of on the Metro. It wasn’t parental, but more like the best friend who you shop with whom you have great comfort in knowing you don’t have to think of silly things like getting lost.
    Kim is now also a friend whom I correspond with often and get to see in Paris but not nearly often enough. She was a true blessing to meet that rainy Saturday as with all of the factors added up, I could have had a disastrous experience and never go back.
    I diverted several times during the first few allées and she could see my range of interest was broadening and that prompted her to revise the list of vendors.
    I inquired in my school-boy French to the vendor in the way she primed me on the metro and Kim helped fill in the blanks with words I couldn’t think of and when it came time to the price in euros assisted me in understanding the short hand of the verbalizing of the monetary figures. The vendors were patient, but the majority of them were already acquainted with Kim as she had been doing the tours often and the vendors recognized her and realized (thankfully) that I (like the others she guided through) was not an ignorant tourist disinterested in their culture and history but serious about my time at the Fleamarket.
    When I speak about the primer Kim gave about how to conduct inquiries with the vendors, it was common sense but also very respectful. Start with Hello and point out a piece you have interest in and compliment the piece and then for finding it. Inquire about their knowledge of the piece. Move onto their experience discovering pieces like that before. And then finally, ask what the export price would be. New Yorker here and in that circumstance, I may have been rude thinking only of what little time I have and jumped right to, “How much?”
    Thankfully, our break for lunch happened and the New Yorker in me on the metro ride over tried to veto lunch as it would waste time, but Kim was gracious in explaining that the vendors will take their time with the midday meal as well. After all, they are French! And I was grateful to pile onto a bench next to other tourists and parisians and look at the chalkboard menu.
    Our conversation during lunch swung like a pendulum from what I had seen coupled with her experience of previous tours and similar items she rememeber d seeing through the Marché. Kim explained why she encouraged me to be brief in some of the stalls due to the wares being presented had questionable pedigree along with an odd price.
    Throughout the Pot Au Feu and the house red wine (all wine in France is amazing so why be picky?), I kept wondering out loud if I had tried to do this myself, how would the morning have gone considering what I was faced with exiting the metro?
    Grateful to be out of the drizzle and warm from the food, wine and excitement of the afternoon, Kim explained that her schedule for us for the rest of the day was going to change slightly and include some vendors that are not the most diplomatic as she thought their inventories would be of interest to me given my comments and insights that morning.
    History proved Kim accurate in her assessment as these particular and somewhat peculiar vendors have been my main sources of antiques and I have purchased from them many times.
    As we neared the close of the day and when the vendors start packing for home (even earlier on chilly rainy days like this) Kim asked if I wanted to revisit any I had seen previously and commented that I hadn’t purchased anything.
    It was bittersweet as I had seen and loved so much. But my goal from the onset was to learn about the Fleamarket and I was only beginning.
    Kim suggested a part of Les Puces that has many silver vendors and why not look there for some smalls that would fit neatly in my carry-on.
    The smalls I bought that day became a gift for my mom as she loves to be creative in setting a table. Although mis-matched, she has many occasions where 12 napkin rings are just the right amount for family gatherings.
    The day concluded with Kim navigating our way through the Fleamarket past all of the vendors we had visited and some I hoped to visit in the future.
    I had taken many pictures that day (provided I asked for permission from the vendor) that price great inspeirstions for current projects of mine.
    We exited at the Seine with the bells tolling at Notre Dame just across the river as it became dusk.
    I couldn’t find the right words to thank her for the day- mainly her patience – but also what she taught me. Any words I used seemed so inadequate.
    When I think over the six years since that first visit to Les Puces and how many times I have gone back and what I have purchased, I get giddy as I was shown the very first time how to experience the centuries-old institution of the Marché.
    Thank you Toma for an experience I won’t forget and was able to recall so easily six years after.
    I am eager for my next trip!

    1. Justin, how fateful that one simple tweet lead me to not only developing a working relationship with one of my favorite designers, but also lead to a dear friendship with a man I adore. I LOVED your Paris Flea Market story – reliving the details and seeing the experience through your eyes. Thank you so so much for taking the time to share your story of antiquing in Paris with The Antiques Diva & Co.

  4. How well I remember my first time shopping at the Paris Flea Market:

    We had just moved to Paris a few days earlier, and I had to be ready to work from home Monday morning. I had no desk, chairs, table, or couch – only our bed and TV had been delivered, and of course my laptop.

    Sunday morning we studied our Metró map and figured out how to navigate to Les Marché aux Puces, determined to by an antique table for my new desk.

    Unable to speak French, and with no cell phone or internet, we felt like urban pioneers as we figured out the metró stop for Clingancourt and made it to les Puces. Totally overwhelmed and busy converting francs to dollars, I finally found and successfully bargained for a warped and worn and totally wabi-sabi French farmhouse table that was exactly what I’d imagined, and negotiated delivery later that day after the flea market closed.

    Proud of ourselves and completely lost in the winding alleys of the Paris flea market, we came across a carpet dealer and purchased a beautiful antique Turkish carpet (that we paid too much for!) that would fit perfectly under my new desk, and warm my feet from the cold ancient floorboards.

    As we carried the carpet out of les Puces we realized we were starving and found a foodstand that became our favorite stop on all future trips to the Paris Flea Market – merguez frites: a spicy sausage on a baguette, smothered in hot, salty french fries!

    One of my favorite souvenirs of our life in Paris… and of course, I still have my desk and carpet!

    Je me souviens…

    1. Merci for sharing, Catherine!

      I’m impressed you managed to fulfill your shopping list on your very first visit to the Paris Flea Market. I suspect although you may have paid too much for your Turkish carpet, if you’re still using it today and it was a good value, then it was worth your investment. Our Paris Diva Guides are experts at negotiating the best price for our clients: the dealers know us, and know we mean business!

      I hope to see you on a Paris Flea Market antiques tour again soon,

      bonne chance, et à bientôt!
      Toma

  5. My first and only trip to les Puces was a delightful experience, not only for me but for my son, Cole, as well. He was nine years old at the time and already loved collecting “things,” but shopping at the Paris Flea Market advanced his collecting skills to another level! If only we’d had a Diva Guide with us! He enjoyed the thrill of the hunt as much as I did. Wide eyed and full of wonder at everything he saw, I watched him develop a love and appreciation for antiques and oddities as he asked question after question while we scoured the stalls for hours. We didn’t buy much, a gold charm bracelet, a wonderful vintage sketchbook full of watercolors (that I have framed and hanging all over my home), and a small pocket knife for Cole. But that first trip to the Paris Flea Market with my son still remains one of my fondest memories.

    1. Bonjour Mimi
      I love that you introduced your son to the Paris Flea Market at the age of 9… a mother/son experience that will be a lifelong souvenir. And now it’s time to return with Cole to les Puces and see how its changed! Too many people think of les Marché aux Puces as an adult activity, but you are correct: from a child’s perspective there is so much to look at that is new and different and exciting, not to mention lots of new foods to taste!

      I hope you do take a Paris Antiques Diva Guide on your next visit: and we’d love to explore the Paris Flea Market from a child’s perspective too!

      bonne chance, et à+
      Toma

  6. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! My first time will forever be etched in my romantic dreams.
    .I couldn’t sleep the night before as the anticipation was so intense. I wondered if it was going to be as good as I hoped, as good as I expected and as good as I wanted it to be. My expectations were high and the promises I had heard made me think it would be memorable. But I was not prepared for the overwhelming excitement and heady endless choices that awaited me, feeling the thrill down to the bottom of my toes..Les Puces de Clignancourt was everything I had hoped for and more, much much more. So with the clock ticking as my train back to reality was looming ever closer, I made the most of my affair with Les Puces…flirting and carousing, teasing and almost submitting, but then……in the pale October sun right there in front of me – KISMET. I spotted the delight of my eye, the one I had been looking for all my life. My negotiation skills were undeniable that day, the day I met my destiny with Louis, charming, romantic Louis. I couldn’t leave him even if I thought perhaps he wouldn’t fit into my life back home. I stubbornly refused to take no for an answer. So I cajoled him into accompanying me on the Eurostar back to London. He even had his own seat on the train and attracted much attention .He still thrills me to this day and on his seat I feel forever young. A perfect gilded Louis Seize salon chair who gives me endless pleasure. We have just celebrated our 20th anniversary and the feelings are as high and mutual as on our first meeting that fateful autumn day at Clignancourt.

    1. Bonjour Daphne:

      I ready your story as quickly as I could to reach the climax: a Louis Seize salon chair! Another chair fetish, I love that it came home to London with you on the Eurostar. One of my first Paris flea market purchases was a tea cart – with one sadly injured leg – that I brought home on the metró, then had to carry to our apartment and up 6 flights of stairs. AND IT WAS WORTH IT!

      Kismet is the perfect word to describe what happens when our eye spots the perfect antique that our soul has been searching for. In fact, I call our role antiques matchmakers: We bring together antiques and the people who want to buy them!

      Thank you for sharing your first time at the Paris Flea Market… and I know more visits to les Puces are in your future!

      bonne chance, et à bientôt!
      Toma

  7. My first trip to les Pusces was in 2011 with Danielle, an Antiques Diva guide. Wow!!

    What a truly remarkable day at les Puces. Danielle’s friendly and enthusiastic nature and skills at navigating the busy and picturesque cobblestone laden avenues in Paris, also extended to skilfully negotiating prices of antiques with les Puces vendors. A day of memories I cherish and often relive in my mind. Her ability to create a win-win outcome on the items I purchased I suspect was grounded in her many years of negotiating in the alley ways at les Puces.

    The day delighted the senses, from the amazing sights of an unimaginable range of antiques, touching and handling 17th, 18th and 19th century treasures, to dejuener at Danielle’s favourite restaurant at les Pusces. The confit au carnard was delicious!

    I wa delighted to have purchased the two 18th century pieces that I have been seeking for several years.

    The 18th century Gustavian sofa is a timeless piece with superb carving, patina and an attractive well proportioned shape.

    The 18th centure table la boucherie has remarkable patina and cast iron fret work that enhances the decor of my home immeasurably.

    Both treasures enhance my home and are always a talking point with visitors, ultimately leading me to retell guests about my day at Le Pusces.

    On that first trip Danielle and I spent delightful time with the charming artistic interior designer, Sophie Atlan. That was an unexpected bonus. Sophie’s hand made chandelier light shades capture the Parisian artistic flair perfectly and certainly bring life to my home, as will the cushions she made.

    Danielle’s introduction and communications with Edet also proved invaluable. I would not have attempted to undertake the purchases and arrange shipping without Danielle’s assistance. EDET’s service was attentive and efficient.

    Thankyou again, my visit to Les Puces will hopefully be he first of many to come. At least I would like to think so. Even if I had not purchased any items, immersing oneself in the culture and sights was an experience not to miss.

    Chris

    1. What a lovely story Chris; I’m delighted to hear you’re looking forward to future visits to the Paris Flea Market!

      Can you imagine having to negotiate your first visit to le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen without a Diva Guide to act as your secret weapon? If you read a few of the other comments, you’ll see several visitors actually left without having navigated through the junk stalls, thinking they MUST be in the wrong place! And while I confess to having found some cute, inexpensive trinkets at le junque the real treasures are only found after foraging on through to the Paris Flea!

      I’m so glad Danielle was able to help your find the treasures you were seeking, and guide you in arranging for their shipment to your home. It sounds like both your day and your purchases were the perfect Paris souvenirs

      And I agree, a day at les Puces should indulge all your senses, and simply must include a visit to one of the chic little bistros!

      bonne chance, et à bientôt!

  8. One never forgets their first time…It was the balmy summer of 2006. I had just graduated university and was full of exuberance at the thought of starting my first adult job in the architecture and design industry. As a graduation gift, my mother took my sister and me on our first European Adventure. There was no contest, it had to be Paris. Being first-timers to foreign travel we were equal parts impossibly giddy – planning our outfits with such care, including shoes that were in no way appropriate for the cobblestoned streets of Paris (how do French women do it?), and tremendously anxious. I remember the stacks of printed out directions and the quantities of guide books we carried (this was the time before smart phones, after all) in an effort to not get lost in or miss anything in the City of Lights.

    We posed for pictures at the Eiffel Tower, took in the masterpieces at the Louvre, and ate so many crêpes avec poulet et fromage (probably because those were some of the few words I remembered from high school French class). It wasn’t until our last day in Paris that we ventured to the famed Paris Flea Market. My design training had taught me to value proportion, line and form, and the certain intangible quality that age gives a piece. This being the dawn of my life as a woman of taste and distinction, I wanted to bring home something special, worldly, and oh so French.

    After a week of touring the city, we rode the metro like seasoned veterans to the market. To say that I was disappointed at first is an understatement. We were greeted by merchants selling cheap clothing, sunglasses, and tasteless trinkets. Where were the oil landscapes casually leaning against each other? How about the antique copper pots? What about the booths chock full to bursting with ephemera of days gone past, elegant painted furniture, and twinkling chandeliers? Thankfully we pushed past these vendors and deeper into the market, because once we did we found the booths that at once were everything I had ever dreamed they would be and were the start of a decade long obsession with antiques, finery, and a well collected home. In fact, unknown to me, that day would influence and shape the path my life took.

    We browsed the rows looking for that perfect souvenir. Many of the things I found were too expensive for a recent graduate (what can I say, I have a gift) but eventually I found something that spoke of refinement and glamour – qualities I wanted in my post-university life. It didn’t hurt that it was sparkly. I found a pair of gilt candle sconces dripping with clear and smoky crystals. Over the years my tastes have changed and I now collect a simpler style of antique, but rest assured that my sconces scored in Paris, what felt like at the time to be my first adult purchase, remain a well-loved and prominently displayed treasure among the vestiges of my well lived (and traveled) life.

    Over the years I have been blessed to travel many places, picking up antiques and items for my home as I go, however I’ve never made it back to the Paris Flea Market. I’m certain that if I had visited with the incomparable assistance of a Diva Guide, I would have walked away with far more than a pair of sconces. I would have had the memories of a day spent foraging with a fellow antiques devotee, learned a great deal about what I was looking at and buying, and probably that settee I was eyeing!

    That’s my #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime at the #ParisFleaMarket story!

    1. Such a lovely tale of becoming a woman who appreciates the finer things in life, Jenny!

      I too knew at a young age that my life dream included travel, and mixing the modern with the ancien – and sometimes, the just plain old! It’s amazing how our tastes evolve, yet we can always find a way to incorporate pieces of varying style and significance into homes that tell our life story. I too have shopped les Puces on a limited budget, yet managed to find the perfect souvenir to represent my visit… and other times to return with nothing at all except my memories.

      Having lived in Paris for years, and of course now traveling to Paris frequently for pleasure and work, the Paris Flea Market has become a part of my life. Earlier this year I was so honored when the Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette named The Antiques Diva & Co their only and official guides! Truly a dream come true for this girl from Oklahoma…

      I wish you bonne chance in our giveaway, thank you for sharing your 1st time!
      Toma

  9. The year was 1997. I had just finished leading a 10-day tour of the major art historical sites of Paris for 40 of my volunteer docent guides from the Phoenix Art Museum–the equivalent of herding cats through a field of catnip! After putting them on the bus to the airport for their return trip home, I was looking forward to spending a few well-deserved days in the City of Lights to recuperate. The plan was to spend some time on my own and a few days with my college roommate, who I hadn’t seen in a number of years. We found a quaint place on the Left Bank–the Hotel d’Angleterre– with a room at the top of a winding set of stairs. Our cozy garret was certainly quite different than our dorm room, and the perfect spot for our reunion. The day that we hit the Flea Market at Clingancourt started with a trip to the 12th c. Abbey Church of Saint Denis–a mandatory stop for any art historian interested in the birth of the Gothic style. After exploring the impressive creation of the Abbot Suger, we headed back to the Metro for another few stops. Our false first impression of the Market was based on the myriad of junk-filled stalls between the station and the entrance to the actual marches…thank goodness we were not deterred. Once inside, we were mesmerized–so many choices… Ellen was on the hunt for elegant silverware. She introduced me to the world of mother-of-pearl-handled cake knives–something she wound up gifting me for my wedding present a year and a half later, and antique Scottish pebble jewelry. I was on the search for a quintessentially “French” miniature chair to add to my growing collection. Eventually, I found an early-19th century gilded metal chair with a velvet top (much like the cap on a prie-dieu–a chair or bench designed for praying and fitted with a padded top for resting one’s elbows or prayer book). My chair has a rocaille shell decoration on the back and was fitted with a hook at the top, most likely for displaying a pocket watch or piece of jewelry. There is no seat, just the delicate frame. To this day, it holds pride of place in the collection, and is a reminder of the 45 year friendship that only gets sweeter with time. Since then, I have returned several times to the Flea with my husband of 17 years to find more chairs, my more recent passion-antique jewelry, French TV lamps from the 1950s, and souvenirs from WWII. We are certain that we have only begun to scratch the surface of the place, and would love to be guided by the experts the next time we return.

    1. Bonjour Jan
      What a charming first visit to the Paris Flea Market! I’m curious… how did you get your little chair home? So many stories I hear of 1st visits to les Puces include a sad story of the fabulous but too large souvenir that they didn’t bring home… I admire your resourcefulness!

      How wonderful your visit was on the arm of a good friend, that’s what we Diva Guides strive to be: your new Paris BFF who knows all the ins and out of the Paris Flea Market, and can help you navigate past the stalls of junk to hunt down that perfect piece (or pieces!). I love your eclectic collections, it makes each visit an adventure when you are searching for the perfect missing addition.

      Bonne chance: we’d love to guide you on your next visit to le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen
      Toma

  10. Well, I suppose I’m can’t officially enter the contest because I haven’t actually made it to the Paris flea market(s), but I TRIED REALLY HARD!!! I worked for an airline a few years ago, I had a layover in Landstuhl, Germany. It was a risky feat to attempt a trip to Paris and back in the time we actually had, but what the heck, how often is a girl a few hours from Paris. My fellow FA and I happened upon a most charming consignment shop in the town owned by an even more charming lady by the name of Angelica and we told her of our deep desire to get to Paris. She was so kind and helpful, she closed her shop and took us to the train station and explained the “ticket machine” and off we went to Kaiserslautern (“K-town”) to purchase our tickets for the next day. We found some very helpful people at the ticket office, and the next thing we knew, we had booked a very expensive, first class ticket on the high speed train to Paris for the next morning leaving at 6:00 a.m. We were up at 3:00 a.m. and on our way to PARIS!!!! We dined in first class, watched in amazement as we flew through the beautiful countryside and were giddy with excitement for our first trip to Paris. We arrived at the Gare de l’Est and were off, spending the day navigating through the City. Through that process, we made 3 lifelong friends, one who became our personal guide in the Metro. We ate crepes, chocolate and drank wine. We ran and strolled through the streets, we laughed, we took photos, we shopped, bought our berets and Swarovski crystal charms….. but never found a single flea market of any kind though we searched, as work beckoned us away. I’ve always wanted to take one of your tours as I was an antique dealer for a number of years and I’ve actually inquired about your tours in the past. I even applied for a job as one of your guides a number of years ago!! So this is my “hoping” that I could win and then in the future I would be able to #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime story at the #ParisFleaMarket. So fingers crossed!!! But some other great news is I will see you very soon in Round Top, TX at the Round Top – Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show on Sunday, Sept. 25!!! Can’t wait to meet you there!! I live just down the road from the Arbor at my B&B, Bel Solé!! See you soon!! Safe travels!

    1. Bonjour Bev!
      I have arrived at Round Top, I look forward to seeing you here: are you attending one of my No Passport Required Champagne Tours?

      I have to laugh out loud: soooo many tourists search for the Paris Flea Market – le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen – and don’t find it! In fact, many get off the metro and are sure they are in the wrong spot, so they leave (see Susan’s story!) I do so wish you good luck in our #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime at the Paris Flea Market giveaway: you need an expert Diva Guide to make sure you arrive safely at the flea market, and then to introduce you the fabulous finds and treasures!

      It sounds like your time in Paris was wonderful and full of adventure, a lasting souvenir!
      See you Sunday, and bonne chance!
      Toma

  11. #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime #ParisFleaMarket
    It was magical! As a self-proclaimed chairaholic, there is no better place than Clignancourt! As I walked down the street towards the market, I saw balloon back dining chairs, and then was sent into ecstasy by the sight of leather mid century modern side chairs, Italian chair back with more curves than Sophia Loren, and even a pencil-box novelty chair! Oh to have a shipping container and unlimited funds! I was lucky to be with a group as I had been to Paris before but was intimidated at the thought of braving the Flea Market on my own. I am sure it is even better when touring with an antiques expert. I came home loaded with photos and inspiration and a strong desire to return!

    1. Bonjour Karen!
      We should start a chairaholics anonymous group! What fun exploring the Paris Flea Market with a group of friends! And I’m so sorry you weren’t able to carry one home with you. But a day at le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is design inspiration that will never be forgotten, I’m sure the photos are a lovely souvenir of your first time at les Puces!

      Thanks for sharing your 1st time, and bonne chance!
      Toma

      1. Chairs are a wonderful thing! Whether Mid Century Modern or farmhouse style, I can’t ever have enough. What about a group for people who are obsessed with antique mirrors, too?! I’ll join! I also seem unable to resist antique clocks, and fortunately live near someone here in Germany who is skilled in restoring antique clock works.

  12. Our family visited some friends who were living in Spain. They surprised us by flying us to Paris for the weekend on the tail end of our visit. It was Christmas time so the streets and city were just magical. On the last day, I convinced my friend to venture out to the flea market to shop for treasures. The problem was that we had our kids with us. Our husbands decided to gift us and took an earlier flight back to Spain with the kids, leaving us in Paris, kidless! We worked that one! My friend and I took a cab to the flea market (not knowing what we were doing) to see what we could find. My friends husband told me that his wife did not like to spend money but he really wanted a piece of furniture to remember their time in Europe. He made me promise that I would make her purchase something. After blisters on our feet and our arms filled with treasures, we found an amazing antique wine cabinet that was perfect, but very expensive. It was rustic and absolutely fabulous. I convinced my friend to purchase it because I promised her husband we wouldn’t come home empty handed. We had it shipped back to Grapevine, Texas along with their favorite wines. It now sits in their living room and is a conversational piece at every party and is admired by all who visit. I purchased two lovely tapestries that I use to hang in a Paris church and they are now in my entryway. There is also a bathroom story, because we couldn’t find a decent bathroom, basically a hole in the ground that we had to stand and use lol. We definitely needed the Antique Diva to give us a more sophisticated tour.

    1. Bonjour Ruthie:
      What a wonderful gift: a day at the Paris Flea Market! And I love the souvenirs you and your friend brought home: perfect memories of a day spent together – with the minis – and of your fabulous visit to see her.

      Yes, all too often I too have used the squat toilets at les Puces – and the rest of Paris, France, Europe and Asia! The adventures of travel… But as the Official Tour Guides of the Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette, we know where all the good toilets les Puces de Saint-Ouen are!

      Thanks for sharing your first visit to the Paris Flea Market, et bonne chance!
      Toma

  13. Ah yes, my first time. It was my and my dear husband’s first time in Paris, in 2010. Finally, we got to Paris for the first time in our lives! We had 6 days in this beautiful city and one day was to be a trip to the Flea Market. As a voracious collector of vintage and antique items, I was ready.

    We took the subway there – I don’t quite remember precisely where “there” was, but it was quite a long walk from the metro stop and was the place all of my research advised me to go.

    We walked past stalls and stalls of people hawking their wares – cheap clothing, bags, trinkets, copies of copies. We walked far and the goods sadly did not change. We walked farther. It was unusually hot on that day in May.

    Eventually, we turned around, walked a very long way back to the metro and made our way back to the 4th, fervently wishing there had been an Antiques Diva to show us the way. Sniff….:(

    1. Mon dieu Susan: you mean you never actually made it past the local market and into the fabulous world of the Paris Flea Market! You and your husband simply MUST book a return trip to Paris, and have an expert Diva Guide with you to make sure you not only find les Puces, but that you discover a whole new world of vintage and antiques!

      Your 1st time at the Paris Flea Market story simply can NOT be your last time at les Puces de Saint-Ouen! But it sounds like you had quite the adventure anyway, and now you know what’s waiting for you!

      à la prochaine, et bonne chance
      Toma

      1. Yes, it’s true we never made it there! I guess we must have been close but unfortunately did not have a guide – obviously, the only way to go! I will return!

  14. Okay, I’ll play…
    My first time at the Paris Flea market was on a trip I took by myself to Paris about 12 years ago, I guess… I’d been to Paris a few times before, but this time I took myself alone so that I could do and see exactly what I wanted to do and see. Of course, a trip to Les Puces and the fabric sellers on Montmartre were absolute musts. I took the train, as you did, out to the end to the Porte de Clignancourt and wondered what I was getting myself in to. I was wearing a sweater with a flowing scarf and someone commented: “very romantic”. As I made my way, I was a little disappointed at all the junk I saw on the way, not quite realizing I wasn’t there yet. And then, there it was – something I’d wanted to do for as long as I could remember. It was like stepping into another world. And I did wish I was there with someone to show me the ropes and just to chat with! I don’t think I bought anything because everything I really wanted was $$$ and would have required shipping. But just being there and poking around was enough. I did buy fabric on Montmartre however. Easier to pack in the luggage!

    And that’s my #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime story at the #ParisFleaMarket story!

    1. Linda,
      It is the strangest sensation to get off the metró at the stop for the Paris Flea Market and think you MUST be in the wrong place. And because we are who we are… we keep going forward and are rewarded with les Puces! You simply must return: there are affordable treasure to be found, and many are small enough to carry home on your lap! (If you do buy some bigger pieces, I have a connection with The Antiques Diva & Co Shipping Services…)

      And we’d love to be your expert Diva Guide at the Paris Flea Market: your secret weapon to get the best finds and deals at Clingancourt!

      And don’t you just adore the Marché St-Pierre fabric district in Montmarte? Everything from gorgeous toiles for curtains to tourist tea towels to bath towels!

      Thanks for sharing, and bonne chance!
      Toma

  15. On my first trip to the Paris Flea Market I met Lyon … I think he would be a fabulous addition to the tour! Lyon would “visit” all the customers at their table … while sporting his very own fur collar. Very diva like don’t you think? I so wish I could remember the name of the little bistro … but I have to think Lyon must be famous!

    1. Bonjour Kim,
      Our Paris Flea Market tours definitely need a mascot! There are many charming little bistros at les Puces, one of my personal favorites is in Paul Bert Serpette, Ma Cocotte.

      Thanks for sharing your 1st visit to the Paris fleas,

      bonne chance, et à bientôt
      Toma

  16. My first time in Paris was in 1985 when I visited my French former inlaws who lived in a wonderful old apartment in the Marais. I was certain that I was the only person in the city who did not speak French, wear a scarf around my neck, and look impossibly chic. We went to fantastic restaurants, I don’t remember being able to eat other than nibbling radishes. radishes with butter and salt had not been part of my Atlanta cuisine. My inlaws were kind and, I think, saw me as the cute littler cousin from the provences.
    I will most remember that when being introduced to an older family member she commented that it seemed odd that a person with so many years of university spoke no language but their own.
    The most important thing I brought home other than newly introduced Annick Goutal perfume, was the desire to speak French and return to Paris with a scarf and a black outfit . Well, I’ve returned many times with the scarf and the black outfit and I’m still working on the French. J’adore Paris.

    1. Bonjour Antoinette – an impossibly chic name!
      Yes, we’re all still working on our French! What an introduction to Paris… French inlaws!

      Thanks for sharing your first time, and I’m so pleased you’ve had many many more times in Paris.
      à bientôt,
      Toma

  17. My first and only visit to the flea market in Paris was when my daughter was four months pregnant with her first child. We rode the metro there and got out in a place that made me nervous but what a treat to enter the market I had heard so much about and had studied for years I knew that I was ignorant of the in and outs of the place but we enjoyed looking at everything. I did bring home a “bird” butter mold which I love as sweet memory of our time there. I would love to go back with someone who knows the ropes Thank you for your blog I have enjoyed reading it

    1. Bonjour Chris,
      Thank you for sharing your first time at the Paris Flea Market – no, it’s not what you expect when you get off the metro! I love hearing about your butter mold souvenir – a lovely memory, that I’m sure your daughter cherishes also!
      bonne chance!
      Toma

  18. Mais oui! My first time was in September 2011, on a trip to Paris with my daughter. My goal was to explore and see EVERYTHING! I have to admit it was a little overwhelming, and also hard because I knew I couldn’t ship home the large items I wanted so much. I came home with a small plaster bust of the Venus de Milo and some brass hardware that I now use as art in my home. A French enamel plaque I found digging in a dirty box of “found objects” that now hangs above my back door — “Essuyez vos Pieds SVP.” Small treasures that remind me of that day each time I see them. We had a fabulous lunch while there, I don’t remember the name of it but it was like being in a movie, listening to the conversation en francais all around us accompanied by the gestures, of course. I can’t wait to go back! Hopefully with you!

    1. Bonjour Suzette – even your name is french!
      I love your #TellMeAboutYourFirstTime at the Paris Flea Market story… it IS like being in a French movie! On my travels I too have carried home small treasures that remind me of my experiences, I love your found art brassware!

      Bonne Chance, and thanks for sharing!
      Toma

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