Parisians call the beltway circling the center of the city “Le Periph”. A couple hundred yards past this raised freeway is the famous “Marché aux Puces” of St Ouen or “Les Puces”, the world’s largest flea market. Americans refer to this famous flea market as “Clignancourt”, after the subway stop you take to come to a collection of side streets, enclosed market halls and stand alone antique shops.
However you call this four block area, it contributes more to interior design trends than any other four block district in the world. It’s the kind of place you see Philip Stark strolling along for inspiration or the Winn Casinos creative master mind Roger Thomas selecting his next treasure. Scouts from American retailers such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn are frequently encountered. Throughout the years trends like Shabby Chic, 70s Mod and the Industrial look were all seen in St Ouen, long before they arrive in the US. The hours are a bit quirky, mostly Friday to Monday, and mornings are more the sure thing from around 9 to 1. Luca and I went one Saturday in May and I captured candid moments and unique finds of St Ouen antiques with these photographs below.
A few dealers set themselves apart by having a clear vision for their stand and by creating wonderful vignettes throughout. Others make you work hard to find amongst their objects, art pieces and furniture what you will be bringing home with you. Both will leave you feeling inspired, excited and maybe overwhelmed. As an interior designer, don’t miss Marché Paul Bert which has some of the most cutting edge dealers, and Marché Serpette next to it.