This city’s full of antique finds, if you know where to look – there’s even a verb (‘chiner’) for hunting them down. They run from heirloom pieces to bargain bric-a-brac; a handsome enamel coffee-pot, say, or set of Ricard glasses. The most central spot for would-be chineurs is the Village Saint-Paul, a cobblestoned cluster of antiques shops on the fringes of the Marais. Don’t miss the quaint kitchenalia at Au Petit Bonheur La Chance, or the jumble of vinyl and retro finds at Aux Comptoirs du Chineur. Keen to find more bargains? Here’s where to head next, from specialist emporiums to the Puces de Saint-Ouen – the vast, world-famous flea market in the city’s northern suburbs.
In the glass-roofed Marché Dauphine, in the heart of the Puces, Falbalas is lined with exquisite vintage fashion, from the 18th century to the 1970s. Gold-embroidered Ottoman capes share the rails with Balenciaga gowns, with lower price tags on printed day dresses and playful 60s frocks. If you see something you like, don’t hang about; its regulars are a sharp-eyed bunch, and stock moves fast.
Anything goes at Charles Mas’s cabinet de curiosités, hidden away in the Puces de Saint-Ouen. His specialty is dead stock from abandoned factories, sourced in huge quantities and pristine condition. Think kitsch clip-on earrings and vintage postcards, Eiffel Tower-shaped scissors and tiny rubber ducks. Nothing’s too surreal to make the cut – including crates of glass dolls’ eyes and disembodied limbs.
For original vintage posters, head to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where this charming, wood-panelled shop displays an unrivalled array. Many hark back to a golden age of travel, with yacht-dotted coves, sleek cruise-liners, and vignettes of life in the tropics. Others run from Belle-Époque absinthe ads to iconic movie posters: Bond with one sardonic eyebrow raised, say, or Jane Fonda as Barbarella.
A few doors down from Alasinglinglin, this cavernous former factory’s now devoted to all things vintage. Several different dealers share the space, so the stock’s always thrillingly varied. You’ll find crystal-drop chandeliers and retro 60s desk-lamps; retro telephones, eye-catching knick-knacks and grand, gilt-framed mirrors. Don’t be shy about haggling, as there’s generally room for manoeuvre.
Three friends co-own this stylish brocante in the hip 11th arrondissement – and clearly have a keen eye for mid-century modern design. Amid the retro rocking chairs and coffee tables, there are plenty of smaller treasures, from vintage china to sculptural sunburst mirrors. They’re interspersed with contemporary pieces from Morocco, like colourful Berber rugs and hand-woven straw totes.
This artfully crumbling bar, doused in the lively spirit of France’s old colonies, is entirely made up of bric-à-brac.
Inside, a colourful clientele beats to the rhythm of rousing music from sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.
There’s even a life-size replica pirate ship, from which exotic rum-based cocktails are served.
Opened by bonne vivante Sylvie Chateigner, this vintage clothing emporium is beloved by the city’s fashion in-crowd, including model Caroline de Maigret.
Tidy racks of high-waisted Yves Saint Laurent trousers and Hermès accessories fill the ground floor, while the basement is a treasure-trove of handpicked garments at more modest prices.
Located in the bustling heart of Saint-Ouen’s 14 flea markets, this fashionable ‘village’ hides voguish eateries like Philippe Starck’s Ma Cocotte and high-end vintage furniture stores like L’Eclaireur and Habitat among the more traditional antique dealers.
The checked tablecloths, enamelled cast-iron stove and vintage crockery make this little tea room feel just like your grandma’s kitchen – if your grandma was an ancient provincial French one!
Homemade cakes and tarts reinforce the cosy, time-travelling feel.
Housed inside an old feminist bookshop, the Fourmi Ailée is a restaurant serving traditional French dishes like blanquette de veau (veal stew) and salads. In the afternoons, the vintage book-lined space becomes a laidback tea room.
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