The Worst Flea Markets in Europe: Part One – Prague

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>My mother taught me to never say an unkind word and my blog is filled with praises of fabulous people I’ve met, great antique shops and boutiques I’ve discovered on my European travels and gushes about gorgeous European flea markets. In my blog I try to give advice on places that are diva-worthy, where you should stop, shop and drop your dough on fabulous European antiques and vintage items. And it occurred to me that if my objective in writing a blog about European Antique Shopping is to save you time on your travels so you can go straight to the fab places, then shouldn’t it hold true that if someplace is utterly NOT FAB that I should also advise when it’s best to skip the market so you can move on to better and brighter baubles? I for one hate wasting time when I travel – and that’s why I’m revealing what I think are the worst flea markets in Europe. And while this might sound like blasphemy coming from me, there are way too many wonderful things worth doing in Prague to waste time at the main flea market!

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Before traveling to Prague on my most recent trip, I scoured the internet looking for hints and tips on flea markets in Prague and found a great article in the NY Times titled Affordable Prague. While I love champagne and fancy hotels, I also love a bargain (in fact, I need those bargains in order to fuel the champagne obsession) so I was utterly intrigued to visit Prague’s main blesi trh, or flea market, which runs every Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m. It was a hike from our hotel across town on the Metro line B to Kolbenova, but never one to wimp out when shopping opportunities await I was up for the challenge. Fortunately, my traveling companions (my husband and niece) were equally pumped for the journey.

to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Stepping out at Kolbenova I got a similar vibe as I do in Paris at the Porte de Clignancourt in Paris – you know that sensation where you tighten the grip on your purse and try to avoid eye contact with the hoards of suspiciously lingering people. I was non-plused that this market was not in a posh locale – in fact, the less posh the market often the better the bargains found. Furthermore this seemed to be part boot sale, and I love a good garage sale! I was certain that this was where the real Czech bargains were going to be found. A fellow Oklahoman brocanter, owner of the Tulsa-based company French Finds, explained to me in an email recently that her husband describes her French flea marketing tactics this way, “If there are not stacks of used tires and cages of live chickens at the entrance to the flea market, it is too upscale for my wife!” With this same sentiment in mind I was practically salivating over the bargains we were about to discover.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Smelling a bargain, I skipped around the market, finding the requisite number of used tires and auto parts, an assortment of broken dolls, used clothes and household rubbish. Amidst the rubble, there were a handful of stalls that were diamonds in the rough. I stopped initially to inquire on these charming miniature musical instruments, thinking they had seriously cute decorative display potential.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />The price per item clocked in at over 200E/$230 each when converted from local currency. Thinking perhaps my currency calculations were off, I plunged ahead. “What about the vintage porcelain pitcher?” I inquired.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Again the vendor came back with a ridiculously high price. Thinking perhaps that it was all in the negotiation, I came back with a counter offer less than half his original asking price to get the feel of the game. The vendor shrugged and walked away.

At the next vendor I tried a new tactic. His prices were readily marked – the pale blue military hat – an ideal “mantique” – was marked 500 CZK or 20 Euro which is a very reasonable price by Western European standards. I pulled 400 Koruny from my pocket, deciding to take the direct approach – why dicker over prices – I’ll show the vendor the cold hard cash when I make my offer. This time I wasn’t asking for a major discount but in the spirit of flea marketing knew that a discount was in order.

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 300px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />The vendor responded with a surprised exclamation, “Clearly the hat has been mispriced” and explained there was no way he could sell the item for this price. It was a steal at 1000 Koruny, he said, which was double the price marked. Now simply curious if the vendor would keep to the originally quoted 500 CZK I reluctantly added 100 Koruny to the pile. “750 CZK” the vendor countered as I walked away from the negotiation.

Now, this is a cold hard fact of flea marketing in foreign countries – sometimes, but not always, having an American accent can be a negative when it comes to negotiations. Americans have a bit of a reputation of spending money and being willing to pay higher prices, which is why I often shop with a local when flea marketing in foreign countries. I let them speak on my behalf, doing the negotiation for me! Having lived in Europe over a decade and having flea marketed in over 30 countries, I consider myself a Flea Marketing Expert, plundering literally thousands of flea markets across the globe. But at Prague’s main blesi trh I had met my match. The Antiques Diva™ faced defeat in Prague and I walked out of the market empty handed. In retrospect, I would have rather spent my tourist time visiting the Royal Palace.

to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />If the quality of the inventory had been better, the locale slightly less depressing – apparently this flea market didn’t get the news bulletin that the cold war was over – or even if the food vendors had seemed remotely hygienic, I would not be writing today’s review listing the Prague Flea Market as among the Worst Flea Markets in Europe.

On a score of 1 to 10 – 10 being the best flea markets in Europe and 1 being the worst – Prague’s blesi trh scored a 2.5. Why so high you ask? I gave them an extra point for having a few booths with potential at the market and I believe had I not been American or had I had a Czech scout with me I might have come home with something special – a beautiful souvenir of my journey.

But all’s well that ends well. As it was, the net result of my day was delicious discovery… While you know me by my nom de plume, The Antiques Diva™, my first name is Toma and it just so happens that while popping into a grocery store opposite the market I discovered the Czech’s have an orange juice named after me! The brand name? Toma!

To see a fabulous place to shop for Czech antiques and vintage items in Prague instead of this flea market, visit “Bric a Brac” in Prague!


The Antiques Diva™

P.S. On my next trip to Prague I’ll be visiting a much larger market, Bustehrad Antik which the NY Times explains, “takes place every two weeks in a village 12 miles northwest of the city, with direct buses leaving from metro stations Dejvicka and Zlicin.” If anyone has any information and photos on this market write to me. I’d love a scout to shop with on my Prague Flea Marketing Journey in the Spring!

Antiques Diva Podcast: A Daily Cup of Joe with Peugeot Frere

to 10px; WIDTH: 295px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers,

Before there was the flagship store on the Champs Elysee – in fact even well before Monsieur Peugeot encountered Herr Daimler and decided that the automobile was the way of the future – the famous French Peugeot famille was known for making a simple coffee mill. Today the flea markets are ripe with their 19th C relics and in today’s Antiques Diva™ podcast I discuss how this famed antique French coffee grinder works as well today as they did in yesteryear.


If you’d rather read than listen, why not read the original article titled tory/daily-cup-joe-peugeot-freres/”>“A Daily Cup of Joe with Peugeot Frere” which I wrote for the Bonjour Paris newsletter!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva™

P.S. If after listening to this podcast, should you happen to have a hankering for your own Antique French Peugeot Frere Coffee Mill, I happen to know a great place you can get one! We have one in inventory – not yet up on our site – at our online store “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva™! Inquire for details

Bonjour Paris – Ask The Antiques Diva™

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 365px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Planning your next trip to Paris? Want to visit great flea markets while abroad? You can now pose your questions to “Bonjour Paris” with their new feature “tory/ask-antiques-diva/” target=”_blank”>Ask The Antiques Diva™—the Bonjour Paris In-House Antiques Expert”. Read this month’s special feature, where I give advice on attending Maison et Objet, visiting the Grande Braderie de Lille and reveal my secret source for finding flea markets in France!

Read The Article tory/ask-antiques-diva/” target=”_blank”>Here!

Until Next Time,

The Antiques Diva™

Photo Credits:
Photographer: Angelica Arbulu Photography
Location: Neeltje Twiss Art, Antiques and Interiors

Paris! The National Fair of The Flea Market and Ham Starts Today!!

to 10px; WIDTH: 400px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 75px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers –


La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambons on the île de Chatou start’s today – March 12th!

Come! Come now to this suburb just outside Paris, France!! You’ll find the absolute best assortment of French antiques plus some wonderful food all in one locale – what more could a person ask for??

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When :
Friday, March 12 to Sunday March 21*
Daily from 10am – 7pm.
*Dealers shop early on March 11 with invitation for entrance.

Where :
the Parisian suburb of ile de Chatou

What :
Europe’s best twice annual flea market with over 800 vendors !

How to Get There :
Take RER A Direction Saint Germain en Laye to stop Chatou

Don’t forget to tour.html” target=”_blank”>book an Antiques Diva Tour to visit the famed flea market on the arm of a seasoned shopper !

The Antiques Diva™

Pen Appeal

to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”×1024.jpg” border=”0″ />top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>When my friend La Reine visited me in Berlin last summer, she was looking for the perfect souvenir to buy her husband, The Big Guy. Naturally, I took her on a Berlin Diva Tour, shopping at one of my favorite flea markets Berliner Trödelmarkt und Kunst- und Kunsthandwerkermarkt Straße des 17. Juni. La Reine recently mentioned our hunt in a post on her fab new blog, She’s Shopping Now, while giving great details on fountain pen collecting.

For today’s diva post, I’m sending you chez elle to read her post on Pen Appeal!

And Ladies, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, take note! An antique or vintage fountain pen (or pen accessories) makes a great “mantique” present for your significant other!

Until next time, happy shopping!
The Antiques Diva™

Expatica – Bringing Home The Bacon & Antiques Too

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In a special article this week, The Antiques Diva™ sets Expatica Readers straight on Paris’ bizarrely titled ‘National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham’.

tou+logo.gif”>tou+logo.gif” border=”0″ />The fall session of tou/foire/jamb.htm” target=”_blank”>La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambon takes place between September 26 – Oct 5, 2008. Over 800 vendors from “toute de France” come to the Parisian suburb of Chatou for 10 divalicious days, selling the best antiques and gourmet ham products in France.

Read what The Antiques Diva™ has to say about the history of this flea market in this Expatica article – Bringing Home The Bacon and Antiques Too!

Jambon Lovers Discount:

If you haven’t booked your airline tickets to visit Chatou, it’s not too late to take advantage of the Air France special discount for Jambon Lovers! You’ll receive a 25-45% discount when flying to Paris until Oct 11, 2008. Mention discount code 04367AF when reserving.

Taking a Page Out of the Dutch Book of Organizational Design!

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>As a collector, I find myself on a continual quest to keep my home tidy while using, in a creative or decorative way, all the items I lug home from vacations, antique fairs and flea markets. It’s a constant battle between my inner creative diva and my anal-retentive side that insists everything in my home must have a place and be kept in perfect order.

While visiting a clog factory north of Amsterdam, I found the perfect way to display my tourist clogs while at the same time solving a necessary organizational problem in my home.

Clogs (antique, new, vintage or used) are the perfect accessory for decorating the walls of your work room. Simply store your tools, paint brushes, art supplies or gardening accessories inside the wooden clogs. Attach a wall-hanging hook to the back of a pair (or two or three) of clogs toma+clogs.jpg”>toma+clogs.jpg” border=”0″ />and hang them from a nail in your office or atelier for an inventive and creative home storage solution! This kills the proverbial two birds with one stone by giving you reason to display your holiday souvenir while finding a much needed decorative storage space for utilitarian items.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to work I go….

The Antiques Diva™