flea market shopping in paris

I hope you don't mind but we're heading back to Paris today for a little overview of my flea market shopping experience in that great city. Going to a brocante was one of the things I was most looking forward to on my trip to France. I had read about Parisian flea markets for years and had a somewhat inflated and mythical image of what they were going to be like in my head. Since my time in Paris was limited and market days only fall on certain days of the week I had to be choosy about which market I went too. I had heard from friends that there were no longer any deals to be had at the large, famous brocante at Clignancourt so I headed to the smaller and more intimate, Vanves.

You'll probably be surprised to know that I bought only one thing from the flea market. While there were many things I loved, most tended to be on the larger (than your average suitcase) size and I wasn't prepared to ship anything back (unless it was truly unbelievable). Truth be told, I found the prices to be a bit astronomical. One of the first things I spotted was a table full of vintage cafe au lait bowls. I immediately thought of this image and imagined a burgeoning collection of colourful vessels lining the shelves of my kitchen.

Then, I looked at the prices - 35-40 euros each! Ouch! Even with some good bargaining, I quickly realized that cafe au lait bowls were not in my future. At least, not if I wanted to really kick start my collection. I thought my money could be better used elsewhere.

As I wandered the aisles, I saw many things I could imagine in my home but nothing really jumped out at me. Still, it was interesting to see the forgotten or discarded history of a different city. Flea markets are a fascinating way to get a glimpse inside ordinary people's lives. You see all of the accoutrements of the home from plates and cutlery to radios and books to chairs and lamp fixtures laid out before you.

I was amazed that the busiest stall at the market was one selling off old cameras and film. There were literally boxes upon boxes of discarded cameras, old film including disc film (do you remember those cameras?), and old lenses.

And what did I buy? An old wire egg basket, maybe a somewhat surprising purchase. They are something I have always admired but I'm not sure it really fits in my house. I guess doing my homework over the next few weeks will let me know. Maybe, it's just that I haven't found the right home for it yet.

In the end, the flea market was not exactly what I had envisioned. Perhaps, I should have made the trip up to Clignancourt to see the beautiful antiques and gilded mirrors I imagined. Then again, now I have a reason to go back! Has anyone been to both of these markets? Did I miss out by not going to Clignancourt?

Image credits
1) via bijou kaleidoscope