This weekend my roommate and I went to the St. Ouen flea market. She needed a suitcase with some character and I needed an activity for the day.
I went into the whole excursion pretty blind. I was aware people made pilgrimages to the various markets on their visits to Paris but I wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about.
Exiting the station at Porte de Clingnancourt, it took us a minute to get oriented. My roommate -a native to Detroit – had to endure a number of side eyed glares from me as we dodged men touting their wares, made our way under a shady underpass and bypassed a rowdy market (that I could only hope was not what I had just sat on the metro for 40 minutes for) before finally reaching our destination.
The market was an oasis. Seconds after stepping into the sunny alleys, I forgot the calamity I had just endured. A tight block of winding, crisscrossing streets promised hours of exploration and discovery.
The shops are built into old stalls so you can enjoy the feeling of entering individual stores while still having the opportunity to soak up the sun and pick through the piles of furniture, posters, vintage clothing and other odds and ends spilling out onto the streets.
The entire visit had my roommate and I brainstorming ways we could possibly fit an art deco chandelier into our suitcase while truly regretting the fact that in a few weeks we will be returning to an unfurnished apartment in DC with no way of bringing the fantastic chairs, tables and cabinets we saw with us.
The most surprising part of the trip, however, was how calm the entire market felt. Not yet overrun with tourists, we could easily meander our way through the streets, stopping whenever we wanted without the fear of being plowed over by a stampede of crazed bargain hunters.
All in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The market is open until 7 on the weekends which gives you plenty of time to get out there.