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.


  1. Tamra / The Gilded Barn replied:

    Fantastic advice! I was at Cligancourt 2 years ago and while I did notice some things were a little more than my previous trip, I still found MANY fantastic pieces for very little money. And even the few I paid a little more than wanted too,well those were items that I would just never have been able to find here in the states!

    Great shipping information.

    Bon Voyage!


  2. vicki replied:

    “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.”

    Oh my, this is exactly where I’m at! I don’t live in the States so I’m just scared my things might get stuck in customs and cost me an arm and a leg. How I yearn to get past the unknown and into the hobby part. Thanks for this push!


  3. Evita replied:

    I’ve starred this in my reader for future use! Now, back to staring at those gorgeous chairs…


  4. Splendid Sass replied:

    Thanks for all of the valuable information! Have a wonderful time in Paris!


  5. theparisapartment replied:

    thanks guys! just landed and took a nap. i can see the eiffel tower from my window and it’s surreal! i’ll take pics cause i’m touring a few apartments tomorrow so more soon!


  6. jennifer@nicolejanehome replied:

    Have a wonderful trip back to Paris. I just love reading about the markets. It’s an inspirational. I need to save up my pennies for a trip to that wonderful city!


  7. le petit cabinet de curiosites replied:

    Love your article


  8. Kate replied:

    Great article. I went to flea markets in August (mostly furniture), re-sell and consignments shops (tres cher) and finally found some good take-home-ables at Marchet d’Aligre.


  9. rochambeau replied:

    Have a Wonderful adventure, Claudia!


  10. Cris replied:

    Wonderful article! I am hoping for a trip for my 40th, so any and all details will be stored up and used within the next year and are much appreciated. For example – what would be an estimated shipping cost on those lovely chairs or the lovely dress form I spy in one of your photos?

    I hope we get to see the ‘after’ photos of the apartment you were working on last time you were in Paris. Oh – and hear what you decided to do with the lovely love letters you found. Ahhh, your readers’ demands are endless!


  11. Angela/ParisienneFarmgirl replied:

    Great post – Finding treasures is no problem, and I am speaking as someone who has to find them ON THE CHEAP, like 75 Euro max! I always bring a large empty suitcase and have crammed it with copper pots, to DIE FOR lamp shades, curtain tie backs, bolster pillow cases, opera glasses, books, books and more old books, plates…
    I can’t IMAGINE how much fun it would be to go with some “real money”



  12. alio replied:

    keep the good advice coming. . . . love your pics. hope you have a splendid stay. . . . invaluable information .


  13. Bardot in Blue replied:

    I would kill to bring those first chairs home with me! xoxo et à dimanche!


  14. Bardot in Blue replied:

    oh and P.S. i get my new iPhone on the September 9th and keys to the fleas is going to be the first app i am gonna add!


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