Paris Capital of Vintage
Whether in fashion, accessories, decoration, vinyl, design… the taste for vintage has become a contemporary obsession that combines a desire for originality with an ecological conscience. First there was retro. Car boot sales, lace and grandad shirts proliferated. Then the vintage wave arrived and fashion adopted the phenomenon. Today, shopping for vintage means adapting the designers of the past for today's taste by mixing their clothes with more contemporary pieces.
From second-hand shops to true vintage, there is something for every taste and budget. The most important is to know where to go. The holy of holies is without doubt Didier Ludot, in the Jardin du Palais-Royal. More than a shop, it's an institution, which for more than 30 years has curated an exceptional selection of vintage haute-couture pieces.
"Zazou" style is back at Mamie and Mamie Blue, below Montmartre, with a cornucopia of dresses, blouses, jackets, shoes and accessories from the '30s to the '60s.
Head further north to the Abbesses quarter and its many second-hand shops including Chine Machine, a boutique with a funky and motley design that offers an attractive selection of cast-offs from the '50s to the '80s at very competitive prices.
There are bargains galore at Kiloshop, a paradise for bargain-hunters. In this massive boutique, the clothes are sold by the kilo! Check the prices for different categories on the blackboard, put your item on the scales, weigh it… and that '70s tunic might be yours for under 10€!
Finally, he (or she) who dares, wins at Guerrisol. They have everthing and anything, and it's where you'll find the best bargains – if you're not afraid to rummage among the piles of garments. But it is still possible to unearth a real treasure here.
Visit the flea markets
Every weekend, bric-à-brac and antiques dealers set out their stands at the gates of Paris – at Saint-Ouen, Vanves and Montreuil. For bargain-hunters it's a real treasure-hunt among the scrap metal, rags and trinkets, but also, increasingly, antiques and vintage design.
Les Puces de Saint-Ouen
Originally peopled by rag-and-bone men and scrap-metal merchants, today Europe's largest market groups together 15 markets, including Dauphine, which offers high-end antiques from the 17th and 18th centuries, Biron, one of the most prestigious antiques markets with 220 antiques and art dealers, Vernaison, the birthplace of the Puces, which preserves the bric-à-brac spirit of its origins, or the more typical Jules Vallès, where you still find trinkets, kitchenware and old posters.
But the market that has changed the most over the past few years and which today reflects the modernity of the Puces de Saint-Ouen is without doubt Paul-Bert Serpette. In this market in symbiosis with design trends and the avant-garde, you may run into celebrities on the hunt for an exceptional designer piece from the '50s and '60s. Seasoned bargain-hunters are there when the gates open to unearth the best of 20th-century design.
Les Puces de Vanves
380 second-hand dealers unload their wares every Saturday and Sunday from 7am to 1pm at this street market just south of Paris. More authentic than Saint-Ouen, and a favourite with seasoned bargain-hunters, you can wander and enjoy the friendly village atmosphere that prevails here. You'll find a jumble of furniture and objects from as far back as the 18th century: lighting, china and ornaments, antique and costume jewellery, rare books and old documents, paintings, drawings and prints, photographs and postcards… The best finds are reserved for early risers!
Les Puces de Montreuil!
An Ali Baba's cave, the Marché aux Puces de Montreuil has not sold its soul, even if the second-hand dealers are becoming fewer. It remains a charming and enjoyable bric-à-brac market. Second-hand clothes are still king, with numerous stands selling army surplus, leather jackets, coats and boots, vintage trenches and sportswear. On the square, rag-and-bone, scrap-metal and junk merchants of every kind keep this colourful market lively. It is definitely the cheapest flea market in the Paris region.
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- Copyright image: CRT IDF/Tripelon-Jarry