it’s your call


hey guys, comment ça va?
i’m reposting an article i wrote for parisien salon and wanted to share it and a little something else too.  i’m at the airport about to take off for paris. we have a great group coming and i’ll try to post some of the details each night. in the meantime, i just wanted to say that the reason this article exists and that linda donahue of parisien salon has become a friend (we’re sharing the apartment)! is because, as a fellow blogger, she simply picked up the phone and asked to have coffee. we met and it was friends at first sight. we’ve had a regular sunday brunch for the past year and now i’ve got a column on her site i’m excited to write! in fact she pushed me to write an article on the maison objet for tomorrow so i’ll keep you posted. she’s even the one who told me what an APP was when i had never heard of them!
i better run but wanted to say that if you have a blogger near you, reach  out and touch her, you never know what will happen! here’s the article, thanks for the opportunity, LD, see you on the other side!

Bringing Parisian Style Home from the Fleas

Because I hang out at flea markets in Paris, I tend to hear the same comments over and over from American tourists, yet it never ceases to amaze me:

Men: “There’s nothing but old junk here.”
Women: “There are no bargains in Paris anymore.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. These people are just scanning the surface, not honing in on the delicious layers that create the Paris flea markets.

Truth is, it’s impossible to go to a Paris flea market and not find a one of a kind, museum-quality trinket for 1euro.

In fact, you could shop any of the flea markets in one weekend and furnish your entire home as if it were a château or a cottage en Provence for next to nothing.

Basically, the flea markets are the treasure chests of the world, brimming with everything from entire paneled rooms to a century old diary. The trick is finding the bargains, then getting them home. C’est simple!


What to look for:

It’s easy to stroll by a table and dismiss it but there’s a lot more to a dealer’s wares than meets the eye. In fact, I’m willing to say that almost every vendor has something uniquely special if you look very close. It may be the size of a button, but it’s there. At all markets, there are two kinds of vendors. Those who practice the art of display and lovingly curate their collection, and those who don’t.

How to find it:

You can find good deals with either type, but those who don’t are generally more interested in sales volume than what the actual item is. Sure, they may know a set of dishes is Limoges or the silverware is sterling, but they don’t take the time to clean them because they’d just rather move it. If you’re on the hunt then get down and and dig in.

Paris fleas aren’t like ours where a box of kitchen junk is filled with Tupperware. In Paris a box of junk may have iron candlesticks, antique serving trays and letters from the 1700s.

If you just want a souvenier or memento, check a dealer’s tiny boxes they have on the table. You never know what can turn up, from a monogrammed stamp with your initials to embroidered pillowcases, a love letter or a locket.

How to buy it:

Bargaining is acceptable in any market around the world and France is no exception. If you make an offer, just be respectful. Flea marketers are hard working people who travel to find unusual things, clean, repair and research them. They haul out, unpack, and face the elements each weekend to bring this magic right to you!


You’re bound to fall in love in Paris, so why fight it?  But what you fall in love with will determine how to get it home. If it’s furniture, you’ll need a shipper, so I recommend a to visit Clignancourt before all other markets. And the shippers are all there so you can so you can visit a few and see what services they offer. It’s a good place to start cause it’s the mecca of markets you’ll never see it all.

Some deliver door to door and others drop at a port and you pick it up. See what works best for you). You’ll set up an account for free and get book of receipts. When you buy something, the dealer will write out his information on one of the copies and deliver it to the shipper. You’ll give the shipper your book to confirm those and any items you’d like picked up. Then you can pay when it’s all been collected. Strange as it is, a ‘hold’ is often as good as a ‘sold’ cause you can work things on a handshake. Just be sure to honor it!

Once you have a shipper, you’ll have an account number and can tell vendors at other markets where to deliver your gems for consolidation without hesitation.

Clignancourt is open Fridays and Mondays till 1pm and all weekend till about 6pm.

For shippers, I recommend Camard or Hedley’s in the center of Cligancourt.

Of course shipping furniture can add a bit to the cost so negotiate that in when you’re bargaining and always ask for the price ‘pour export’.

Shippers charge by cubic meter, so if you have an armoire, you’re free to fill it with all your goodies from linens to chandeliers.

Finally, forget your misconceptions about shipping; That you need to fill a container, that it’s expensive, there are taxes…once you get past the unknown a new world opens up. You may just find yourself with a brand new hobby.

Bon shopping!

Do you have a question about flea market style for Claudia Strasser? Send your questions to, and you may find it answered in a future column.

PS: someone did ask a good question!

Our first question comes from Kevin of Tempe, Arizona.

I live in the U.S. and am wondering if the dealers at the flea markets in Paris, particularly Puces de Vanves, charge taxes on the purchases?

Claudia says:

The answer is no, official tax is not charged on top of the price negotiated for the item. The dealer is responsible for his taxes and builds that into his cost. Items that are over 100 years old are considered antiques and are not taxable.

On the other hand, if you’re shipping something back to the States that’s not over 100 years old, you’re subject to the duties and taxes that the U.S. ascribes. How they calculate it remains a mystery on so many levels. So if you’re buying antiques, ask the dealer for a ‘Circa’ date and have him or her write it on the receipt.

When your items come in by sea or air, a customs broker will call to ask you to fill out a form stating the age of your items. If they’re under 100 years old, the customs broker will give you your tax and duties total based on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. You can try to decipher it yourself but just like a good lawyer, a good customs broker will help you to determine your tax bracket.

To learn a little more about it, you can visit this link:

Do you have a question related to the Paris flea markets, or any other home design in Paris questions? Send an email to Photo by One and Only Paris Photography.

August 30, 2010. France, Marché aux Puces, Paris, Paris Flea Markets, Paris Trip. 14 comments.

a girl’s gotta eat

le fumoir

bonjour guys! i hope you’re having a good weekend and enjoying the summer days. i’m leaving monday and putting together itineraries and getting the details set for the group.  it occurred to me that i keep writing the same things over and over every year and get asked for all sorts of lists, one being recommendations for cafes and restaurants in paris. i try not to go to a place twice with so many choices but these are actually some of my faves that i do seem to gravitate toward. i figure the blog is as good a place as any to start keeping track, and this way you can enjoy them too. some of them have super cute websites so dig in and bon apetitit!

le comptoir

you can’t make a reservation but if you get here early you’ll get a seat, otherwise there will be a line. the food is amazing! great photos here

le square trusseau

l’avenue restaurant, one of the costes brothers’ fabulous restos

hotel costes

a MUST, good for an afternoon lunch or late night drink, make a reservation

le train bleu, t’s in a train station but WOW!

le procope has been around since the 1600s. it could be the oldest restaurant in paris and is a walk back in time. photo from here

marly cafe in the louvre, photo from here

le crillon

just for fun, high tea is great on the patio. photo from here:

le dame brune, casual but uber fun crowd and owners, oh and fantastic food!

le pin up

chez janou,  it’s always packed and kind of  tucked away but worth the visit. make a reservation.

cafe baci

ps if you have a fave, let me know and i’ll add to this list!

August 29, 2010. Paris Restaurants, Paris Trip. 16 comments.

the timeless energy of a place

hi guys, hope you’re having a good week. i’ve been laying low trying to tie up loose ends before heading back to paris in 5 days. i guess you never really finish tying those ends and it’s really just one of life’s little jokes. everyday there are new strings so it’s sort of pointless and i’m just going to give in to it, otherwise i’ll never get to more creative stuff like writing.

i only realized this just now as i promised to announce a blogger meet up for a very special rendez-vous while en paris.

i’m heading to the maison objet with a couple pals and am really excited to meet fellow bloggers vicki archer of french essence and sande chase of a gift wrapped life. we’ve been trying to get together for years and are finally going to make it happen, and you’re invited too!

the girls have set up a meeting at cafe deux magots:

Date: Sunday, September 5th at 7 pm
Place: Cafe des Deux Magots
6 Place des Saint Germain des Pres
75006 Paris

i have to admit i’ve been there a couple times and always thought it was a bit of a tourist trap but searching for an old photo of it tonight, i realized just how much beauty, history and art has come from these walls.

all of these shots are from the cafe, taken by various photographers in different years, but all with the same outcome. pure magic.

i can’t wait to meet you, ladies, and hope we make some magic of our own! if you’re going to be in paris, or live there (martha, erica, madelyn) i hope you can come!

check out this link for other great old shots of classic paris cafes and have a bonne nuit, cher amis!

August 26, 2010. Maison et Objet, Paris, Paris Trip. 35 comments.

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