bonjour tout le monde, coming to you from gay paree! i spent the last few days at the flea market with clients from perth, australia who are buying for their antique business which will be set in a gorgeous church they’re converting into a store.
i promised to keep it hush hush for now and will be blogging more about it when it’s ready to go. but i couldn’t resist sharing a little of our time together. they asked me to help them find a lamp post to hang their shingle and i knew just where to go to look, but what we found surprised even me. next to an everyday light that had been removed from a paris street were three magnificent lamposts that had come directly from the Champs-Élysées!
hard to believe this magnificent piece of history was available for purchase but then again, that’s the beauty of the french flea market; it’s a place where you can take piece of history home with you, even if that means all the way around the world to australia.
the details were beautiful and on one hand i can’t understand how they could have been slated for removal after all these years, but on the other, i’m grateful that they’re there for the taking for someone who truly appreciates them.
the plan is to get them to their new home within the next 80 days for the grand opening, so they’ll be packed up and shipped on monday.
i can’t wait to see them in their new home! we’re finishing up tomorrow, so for now, it’s lights out!
ps i’m in paris for the next couple weeks so if you’re interested in shopping the markets together email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. bonne nuit!
bonjour everybody! please accept my apologies for not gettng back to announce the winner of the book last weekend as promised. i’m heading out for a month and it’s been crazy trying to tie up loose ends and just generally keep it together. the poor blog seems to come last which is sad cause it’s actually my favorite venue and I really thank you all for your wonderful comments through the week. i wish I had a case of books and could give one to each of you! but i will be getting review copies of lots of books this summer so there’ll be plentry of giveaways on the horizon. in the meantime, the random number generator was #63, so please, Ms. Lewis send me your address and i’ll get it out to you right away!
in other news, i came across this interview just now that my dear friend and colleague did with me a while ago. i’m reposting it here since some of you are going to paris this summer and i’ve been getting a lot of emails and questions, so i hope this helps and i’ll elaborate on it over the next couple posts. our iphone app also has lots of info like metro, hours etc. it’s on the sidebar.
Interview by Linda Donahue (well an excerpt anyway, you can see the full thing here: parisiensalon.com-the-paris-apartment
Your book, The Paris Apartment, is all about how to bring Paris style home—no matter where you live. What was your inspiration for writing it?
I was asked to write a book on my style about 6 months after opening the shop. At the time it was something I had never thought about so it was a bit of a struggle figuring it out. It ended up to be my philosophies at the time, which are still the principals I hold true today. Basically it’s twofold: That four walls can become anything, and that everyone has a personal style to uncover and develop instead of following trends.
What would be the top tip you could give someone to bring some Paris style into their home?
Authenticity. Even if your rooms are completely furnished with IKEA, it will gain character from at least one great piece, from an antique mirror to a chair or chandelier. Don’t ever decorate with kitschy stuff like Eiffel tower lamps or Frenchy stuff from TJ Maxx with ‘Paris’ written on it!
Does Paris style have to be expensive?
Not at all. Flea markets are one-stop shopping and everyone knows that’s where the bargains are. That’s why dealers and decorators shop them early mornings to get the best stuff. If you wait till the end of the weekend you’re likely to get even better bargains cause some people don’t want to pack it back up.
You were featured in Travel + Leisure magazine as you took some clients through the Paris flea markets. There seem to be so many such markets in Paris? Which ones do you consider the best?
Well actually there are only 3 or 4 flea markets in the Paris proper and Cligancourt is the largest and most comprehensive. It’s a city in itself, with both upscale and dangerous neighborhoods, so it helps to know where you’re going. I would say if you only had time to visit one though, go to Vanves because you’ll get the experience without having to figure out how to navigate the maze that is Cligancourt!
After the countless trips you’ve made to the flea markets over the years, do you have an easy time navigating through them?
Finally! It literally took years to figure out Cligancourt. Every time I go I learn something new. It’s a part of Paris’ history that the city treasures and protects so it’s constantly growing and adapting. There are so many sub markets and alley ways and secret sections and dealer’s areas and special showings…it’s absolute infinity!
The Vanves flea market seems much easier to navigate than St-Ouen. What kinds of treasures can one expect to find there?
Vanves is a great microcosm because it’s just two streets. You can find a condensed version of the larger markets with furniture, ephemera, lighting, accessories, books, lamps, and rugs. I’ve found some of my best treasures there.
What’s the difference between antiquités, brocante and vide-greniers?
They difference is in the range from bric a brac to high-end items. You’re going to find the chi-chi stuff at a place with antiquités, (usually auctions and shops), more affordable items at brocante fairs (outdoor fairs that are seasonal) and much lower (but still great) household goodies at vide-greniers, which are also known as ‘attic sales’, usually held on the street like a block party.
Can you get through Vanves in a single morning or afternoon?
Yes bu it’s tricky cause it closes at 1pm so you have to get there really early. Even so, you have a lot of ground to cover. The good news is you can go there on both Saturday and Sunday and still have time to visit other markets. Different vendors are there each day so it’s worth it to go back twice in one weekend.
When is the best time to hit the flea markets?
Marche d’Aligre is held almost everyday and that’s right in the city center. Vanves is weekends only and Cligancourt has special days for dealers on Friday mornings. Otherwise you can find everyone there on the weekends and a couple on Mondays. Montrieul is Mondays.
St-Ouen (also known as Clignacourt) is the biggest flea market in Europe. I’ve heard that people have gotten lost in there. Is there a strategy one should adapt before even attempting to visit the flea market?
Not really because you’re bound to find everything you want whether you cover the entire market or not. The truth is you could never cover the whole market. Ok, well, I have, actually! But it’s nearly impossible even for me. I suggest taking your time to look down every alley and not have an agenda. Bargains can be found everywhere.
Is there a difference between the different markets in St-Ouen?
Yes. Every one of the markets has a range from true high priced antiques to the one euro items.
It’s expected by all the vendors that there will be negotiations involved in any purchase. Any advice on that? And is the inability to speak French a barrier to a successful negotiation?
If something is a great price I don’t negotiate, especially on small items. But if I’m purchasing two or more things I’ll ask for the best price for all of it together. When you’re asking for a price, always ask for the ‘Pour Export’ price (that is, if you’re shipping it), because they know you’ll have to pay duties and taxes and always give you a break. If it’s a small item, ask ‘How much is this?’ (Combien, monsieur?) Or ‘How much for both?’ (combien pour le deux?).
So, say someone makes a big purchase—a piece of furniture, for instance. How would they get that purchase back to their home (if they don’t happen to live in Paris)?
There are a number of shippers on the premises at Cligancourt and I like Edet and Hedleys. Most of them are on the main road, rue de Rosiers where everyone goes when they get off the Metro and make their way through the market. All are English speaking and will walk you through the process, which is involved but not overly complicated.
So, the Paris flea markets are a good place to go to bring that Paris style home with you. Any last words of advice to those who decide to hit the markets while in Paris?
Be careful at all the markets. As wonderful as they are, there are pickpockets and dangerous characters about. Wear good walking shoes, bring cash, and if you’re going to charge something, use Visa or MC because they can’t stand AmEx, and most vendors won’t take it.
I always bring an extra duffle bag to fill with treasures, so when you’re there, look for small things to bring back like compacts, sketches, small paintings, fabrics, books, jewelry boxes, lampshades, candlesticks and photographs. Have fun!
Photo by One and Only Paris Photography.