"Colonial" holiday display. The small covered cafe au lait is from Morocco in its days as a French colony. It is rare to find a cafe au lait bowl complete with lid. The candlesticks are modern French and the metal urn (with lid suspended from a chain) is American. A hand-embroidered cloth from a French church covers the Spanish chest.
Today my friend Lee and I braved the biting cold to visit the Marché aux Puces at Clignacourt. We saw plenty of explorer relics from colonial days in North Africa and Africa, including life-size stuffed lions, zebras, an oryx, a giraffe and peacocks. Lee and I agreed those were a bit creepy, but the setting was interesting, complete with animal skin rugs and throws, hardwood furniture pieces and accessories appropriate while on safari (well, maybe one of those scrumptious Ralph Lauren-styled faux safaris).
This being Paris, we opted for some local treasures. I brought home two petit chocolate moulds - fish and bells for Easter - for my collection, as well as five 18th-century paperback books with aqua blue covers (the dealer had 28, but where would I put them)? Lee got a fabulously chic and warm scarf and supplies she might use in her next art piece. Many Clignacourt stalls were closed for the holidays, but we found plenty of unusual sights to keep us entertained. And when the cold became too much, we stopped for a lovely lunch and hot tea.
Wine bottles suspended from the ceiling at Marché Vernaison.
The Marché aux Puces at Saint-Ouen is Paris's largest and most famous flea market. It has over 2,500 stalls, spread over 15 acres! The market is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays year-round. Take Metro Line 4 to Porte de Clignacourt, then exit the metro to your left and walk past the crowds of stalls selling cheap knock-offs from Africa and China. Cross the street and walk underneath the overpass and turn left, again past a few stalls selling cheap goods. Take the first street to your right past these stands and you'll see the beginnings of the antiquities market.
My favourites are Marché Vernaison, Marché Dauphine and Marché Paul Bert. Stop by Stall 241 at the latter and say hello to the charming and elegant Laurence Lenglare. Her exquisite taste combined with beautiful finds from the Loire Valley are show-stopping. Both Laurence's shop and her stunning home have been featured in various French and American magazines. Laurence is also a talented sculptor. Early in the new year, you'll see photos of her work on Paris Parfait.
Contributions from The Stencil Project at Marché Paul Bert.
Art tiles at Marché Dauphine. Photos above by Lee Renninger.