WON THIRD PLACE in Contest ~ *Paris Flea Market* ~ February 2010
For antique lovers, deal finders and shoppers of all kinds, the immense flea markets of Paris are a treasure trove of unique finds, quirky items, one-of-a-kind junk and cherished treasures you are sure not to be able to find anywhere else in the world. The flea markets of France offer visitors a peak into the French art de vivre—and many of the objects for sale give you glimpse into French everyday life in years past as well as offering a foray into French society today.
However, while Paris’ sprawling flea markets are certainly full of great finds, first-time visitors will probably be surprised by their out-of-way locations and less than beautiful appearance.
In fact, the three major flea markets in Paris are all held on the outskirts of Paris, around the boulevard perpherique, which encircles the city. While many of the flea markets in France are held in the centers of charming towns, villages and cities, the flea markets of Paris are not surrounded by old stone buildings and stunning scenery, and are in themselves sometimes even unsightly.
History of Flea Markets in Paris
They are a product of their distinctive history, which dates back a couple of centuries to the days of the rag and junk trade in the city. Hundred of years ago, the streets of Paris would often be scoured by folks scavenging for bits of scrap metal and other finds to either be sold for a profit or used as a household item.
However, in the 19th century, there was a large scale effort in Paris to push these scavengers out of the city center and a city official named Eugene Poubelle (yes, that’s where the French got their word for trash can) ordered that garbage cans be sealed. This, as you can imagine, cut into the scavenging trade in Paris—which pushed many of these scrap dealers to the outskirts of the city.
The scrap dealers moved to the north of the city in Saint-Ouen, just above the Porte de Clignancourt, where the king of French flea markets now exists today.