In French, the verb chiner literally means to search for rare or old objects. It is not surprising that such a word exists in the French language as Flea Markets originated in Paris in the 19th century. Le Marché Aux Puces – the oldest and largest flea market in the world – located in St. Ouen, just north of Paris, is comprised of 14 different markets and features objects from 1700 dealers in total. From a wide array of 18th to 20th century furniture, to vintage clothing, photographs and art one can pick up rare and unusual items to bring back home for their own cabinet de curiosité.
Below is a selection of five fascinating flea market finds spanning various design styles and époques, to give you a sense of what is possible at Les Puces:
1. Renaissance Drawing
Arsinopia, located in Marché Serpette, specializes in old drawings. Among their catalogue is a gorgeous 16th century brown ink drawing by Girolamo da Carpi (Ferrare 1501-1555). The antique figure was drawn using a feather nibbed pen and the drawing comes in a gilded wood Louis XVI period frame. Price is available upon request.
2. Vintage Haute Couture Evening Gown
At the Marché Paul Bert you will find the shop Les Merveilles de Babellou which proposes a wide selection of vintage fashion. One can bring home an elegant Givenchy Evening Gown circa 1975, composed of a long black chiffon skirt. The top is hand stitched in white and gold with pearls and sequins.
3. Art Nouveau Perfume Bottle
René Lalique is one of the most well-known art nouveau designers, famous for his glassware and crystal designs. Mezza Notte, located in the Marché Serpette, sells a collection of glass and crystal and has an exquisite perfume bottle in the design of a mermaid by René Lalique circa 1912.
4. Eighteenth Century Furniture
MLD Antiquités at the Marché Biron offers a variety of 18th- 20th century furniture and decorative objects. They have a lovely, rare Regency Mirror circa 1715-1723. Done in the style known as “Pare Close”, the mirror is comprised of separate pieces of mercury glass enclosed in an elegant gilt wood frame which has been hand carved in a floral and shell motif in the Jean Berain style.
5. Mid Century Modern Design
If you’re seeking something more modern, Edouard Demachy in the Marché Serpette proposes a gorgeous sideboard by one of the most famous designers of the 1950s, Charlotte Perriand. Perriand’s sleek Enfilade Cansado, is composed of three doors, made of mahogany and black lacquered metal.
This is just a small sample of what one can find at the Paris Flea Markets when engaging in l’art de chiner! Come treasure hunting with us – click here to book our Private Flea Market Tour!
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