Paris Flea Market Style as Home Decorating Inspiration
The Skimbaco Philosophy on Saving & Splurging
I am a big believer that you can live life to the fullest on any budget. I love to splurge on things, but I equally love saving money on other things (so I can afford the splurges). I believe you should treat yourself, and not deny yourself the nice things or experiences in life even if they are not in your comfort level when it comes to pricing. It’s all about moderation, and sacrifices. I also believe that when you buy good quality, it lasts and it’s worth it, and when you buy dirt cheap, it probably lasts for the worth you bought it for too. I think the “mid-priced” or my “personal comfortable level of paying for something” is actually the one I tend to avoid the most!
I am willing to give up on some other things to stay in a luxury hotel, to fly in first class, to buy a designer chair or to have better appliances at home (all things that I technically can’t afford). The best though is that I actually love some of the “sacrifices” too. I love how I can whip up an amazing dinner from the last night’s leftovers, I love shopping at outlet malls and TJ Maxx for the best deals on designer clothes. I love the thrill of getting something on clearance or for dirt cheap. But above all – I love flea markets. And I especially love flea market for shopping for items for home. My home decorating style is Scandinavian eclectic global mix, and I love to mix modern Scandinavian furniture with vintage finds with travel souvenirs and things that I have found often from flea markets from our travels.
I have shopped at flea markets, garage/estate sales and outdoor markets in several countries on four continents, and while one of my favorite flea markets is in Cleveland, Ohio, of all places (mainly because they have half off everything on Mondays), today I am taking you to Paris flea markets for some interior design inspiration. Paris is really more of a luxury shopping destination (read luxury shopping tips in Paris from Wes), and even the flea markets tend to be on the high price side compared to smaller French towns or some other European countries, not to even mention other continents. However, there is no place like Paris, even when it comes to thrifty shopping, and you can find droolworthy items from Paris flea markets, and at least come home with ideas how to bring the Paris flea market style for your home.
Home Decorating Inspiration from Les Puces, flea markets in Paris
The most famous flea market in Paris is at the Porte de Clignancourt, it is known as Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, or Les Puces (The Fleas) by the locals. The area is full of sellers, outside in tents, streets and inside in shopping mall, or in the alleys. We headed to Marche Dauphine, where all of my photos are taken from. If you are interested in visiting the flea markets in Paris, there are travel tips on the bottom of this post. But now – let’s see some cool items I spotted on our visit, and some tips what to look from flea markets.
Unique art for walls
Flea markets are the best places for finding unique art for your walls. Whether it’s oil paintings, litographs, drawings, posters, photos or you name it. When traveling I look for “things that I can frame” – because they are going to fit in my bag!
I loved these vintage photographs.
Other items to look for: old magazines or comic books that can have pages and pages of frame-worthy content. Sometimes the best finds can be found from racks like the one below. You just need to look!
Remember that the art you find might not be the original art, but a reproduction. Price is typically a good indication, and of course if there are ten same art prints, you are most likely dealing with a reproduction. Don’t let it bother you too much, you are looking for cheap fun art for your walls, not an investment!
Get the global feel
Travel posters are a great way to decorate and get the global feel to your flea market chic home. Notice: it’s ok to go to Paris to buy a travel poster of Algeria.
In fact, flea markets are the best place to find any kind of “travel souvenirs” for your home. Many of us tend to buy souvenirs from travels and then realize they don’t fit our decorating style at all at home and the items get donated to flea markets.
Speaking of my favorite subject, traveling, vintage suitcases and travel trunks are amazing flea market finds and look awesome in your home. You can look ideas from Pinterest how to repurpose vintage luggage, you’ll be surprised what all you can do with them, for example adding legs to turn them into tables.
We’ve used a travel trunk as a coffee table, but they could even work as a bed side table. Inside the trunk we storage my wedding dress, my husband’s army dress uniform and our kids’ baby clothes, it’s like a trunk full of memories we move around the world with. I bought ours from upstate New York estate sale for 20 bucks over ten years ago, but now most I’ve seen have been over ten times that, and significantly more if you are talking about brand name luggage. Don’t forget to look for old hat boxes, they make great decorative items too, and you can storage stuff inside them too, and they are cheaper than the luggage.
Another favorite among travelers: look for old globes. They are great as home decor.
Unique furniture and light fixtures
Look for unique chandeliers and light fixtures. I spotted the Zeppelin Chandelier by Marcel Wanders in one of the shops. It helps to know what you are buying and paying for, so I try always look for modern design pieces I like. I am sure there were some famous antique chandeliers hanging in the same shop – I just don’t know anything of them!
Sometimes you might be paying for a knockoff/reproduction, or not getting a deal at all even at the flea markets, so make sure you know a little bit what you are bargaining for, or at least – is it worth the money for you, even if it’s not the item’s real value.
Remember with furniture that you can always paint it or re-upholster it. And light fixtures can also be re-wired.
The very different kind of stuff
Don’t think flea markets are just for expensive antiques, or old junk. You can find items related to your interest or passion, whether it’s boxing or butterflies or anything in between.
I noticed the same kind of Pegasus plaque at the Paris wall that I spotted on a restaurant wall in New York City before, it’s funny how you will find unique pieces that can bring you memories from the past.
Look for unique original art, and upcycled products as well.
I even spotted a stuffed peacock at the Paris flea market.
The Marche Dauphine flea market at Le Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen had a shipping company within the premises, and you could easily shop for larger items and have them shipped back home. Of course, it’s not all that cheap to ship, but you are not just buying inexpensive things from the flea markets, but often items you can not buy anywhere else even if you wanted to. I have been buying furniture and larger items from all over the world, but only because we have lived in so many different countries and states. It is easy to get carried away at the flea markets, so I recommend making a list of things you are looking for, and sticking to your budget! If you go to flea markets on your travels, remember to check out flea markets back at home before you go too. You might be able to find same items from the flea market next to you for fraction of the price, you just never know, and that’s the beauty of flea market shopping.
Don’t forget to…
… look for vintage clothing & accessories!
They can also be great for decorative purposes.
Last, don’t forget to people watch. You can see some real characters at flea markets, and connect with some cool people. The sellers can often tell you great stories of the items they are selling too.
Les Puces de Saint-Ouen Flea Market in Paris
The Les Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market in Clignancourt just outside the 18th arrondissement. It is a very large area with hundreds of sellers, and it can be very overwhelming. What you really are looking for is the vintage shops.
The flea market is very easy to find from the Porte De Clignancourt Métro stop. You can take the métro line 4. Once you get to the streets from the metro, you will start seeing sellers immediately. Unfortunately they are not the kinds you are looking for. Ignore all of the cheap China-knockoff salesmen, and keep walking. Walk past the tents where you see more cheap crap, and then walk a little more on the streets filled with tents full of knockoffs. It’s only a 5 minute walk, but feels longer with streets full of sellers. This is not the flea market you are looking for, you are looking for either Marche Vernaison, alleys of old antiques or the real Les Puces, the Marche Dauphine. We only went to the Marche Dauphine, and we spent a few hours just shopping there. There is also a lovely cafe for lunch.
Hours of operation:
Saturday 9 am-6 pm
Sunday 10 am-6 pm
Monday 11am-5 pm (note: some of the shops are not open on Mondays)
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