On Sunday mornings, I love to wake up early as the sun is cracking across the horizon, bathing Paris in a golden glow. I make a quick stop off at my local little bakery to indulge in a flaky croissant and rich cup of coffee before jumping the metro to go bargain hunting. That’s right – it is flea market day, the most important day of the week for those of us who love seeking Parisian treasures.
There is nothing that can’t be found in the sweeping markets of Les Puces in Porte de Cligancourt. From the second I step off the metro, I am caught in a tidal wave of people, jostling me along, all eager to hit the stalls. I duck down into the labyrinth-like streets and every step leads me to a new trove of finds.
Forget those tacky souvenir stores selling fake berets and “I heart Paris” T-shirts; this is the real place to grab some French goodies to take back home. Can’t make to Paris anytime soon? You can also bring a little je ne sais quoi into your life by keeping an eye out for these perfect French treasures at a flea market or antique shop closer to home.
For Your Kitchen
The kitchen is probably the most important part of French living; if you have ever stayed with a French family, you will understand that the heart of the home is all about the stomach! French kitchens are mouthwatering in design, not only because of the beautiful cheeses they keep in the fridge, but because of the scrumptious looking accessories that flavor their kitchen counters.
Whilst shopping in Paris or Les Puces, keep an eye out for copper pans. Copper pans are heirlooms in everyone’s homes and a simply beautiful accessory for any kitchen rack. A set of vintage copper pans will set you back less than 50 euros, and the copper is usually beaten out by hand and tarnished to quaint perfection.
You can find copper pans back home in America, however, if you want to bring the joie de vivre to your kitchen, be sure to select copper pans that aren’t sparkling and new. To look the part, the copper should have been hammered and slightly tarnished. If hand-hammered, they will have a bumpy texture on the bottom of the pans. Good brands to look for are falk Culinair, Mauviel, and Bourgeat.
If coffee be the drink of love, then Paris would be the new Casanova; on every cobbled corner you will stumble across the young and the beautiful sipping a flat cup of French press. This means that you can find a number of vintage, antique, and sparkling new specialist-designed French presses in the heart of Les Puces.
Whilst serving up your coffee in a Parisian French press will make your morning extra special, you don’t actually need to fly to Paris for this item. French presses can be found across America, and to remain faithful to the traditional design, you should always go for glass over plastic.
Spice up your kitchen cabinets and be the envy of any dinner party guest by taking home some gorgeous Alsace cookware. The ceramic and clay dishes are usually bright and beautiful with painted motifs. If you don’t fancy traveling as far as Paris to get your mitts on these decorative cooking pots, then you can scour your local flea markets- but be sure you get the real deal by looking for the clay-fired stamp of authenticity on the bottom.
If you are looking to bring a little Chanel-inspired chic into your home, then the flea markets are full of little treasures that are easily transportable and will change the face of any modern home into a room straight out of Marie Antoinette’s cottage! Trawl the stalls and keep your eyes peeled for ceramic door handles, vintage Goyard trunks, and dazzling lamps by Serge Mouille.
If you don’t want to haul lavish paintings back home, then consider searching through the old trunks brimming with old French postcards and photographs. These are usually cheap and can be purchased in bulk, meaning that when you get home you can assemble them into a stunning collage to display on the wall.
No bookshelf will look complete without a collection of dusty, leatherbound French books. Paris is a world of literature, and you can find plenty of rare collections in Les Puces- and even on the wooden carts lining the milky seine in the very heart of Paris. You can also go down to your local antique dealers or used book shop to find some musty book collections that will inspire the shelves of any literature lover.
Keep your eyes peeled for a few vintage and antique beauty accessories. From ornate powder puffs to beaten silver hand mirrors and gilded brushes, these objects can transform a regular dressing table in seconds. There are also some stunning little pill boxes to be found, with elaborate little paintings and engravings. Go for ceramics and pearl, and if choosing silver, study the object carefully until you find a stamp or hallmark.
As long as you have a little French inspiration in your soul, it means your home can become a Parisian style icon without ever having to step foot on the Champs Elysees.