The Ultimate Guide to Paris Flea Markets by
The Ultimate Guide to Paris Flea Markets by

The Ultimate Guide to Paris Flea Markets by

Words by Clare Ferra

For Part 2 of our vintage shopping guide to Paris we thought we would interview vintage afficionado about the flea markets of Paris. The locations of Paris flea markets change week by week and are spread all over the city, so following her instagram is a means of keeping up to date where the weekly markets are located in English.   Part 1 of our vintage shopping guide is available here.

Tell me a little about yourself and what you do?

My name is Alicja, but lots of people call me Alice or Kissa, and all are fine with me. I’m Polish, from Warsaw, and moved to Paris a few years ago. As you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of Parisian flea markets (it's my little obsession), but besides that, I’m a chemist and have other passions that take up quite a big part of my week, such as drawing, the science behind cosmetics, playing the piano and everything related to Chopin. So, I would say my interests are all over the place, spanning from science through beauty to art.

Do you have any plans to turn your passion for thrifting into a full time job?

I definitely plan to develop this creative side of me further. At the same time, I've graduated in chemistry and I work as a biotech consultant for drug development in Paris, and I absolutely love it. I would definitely be sad to leave the research. However, my dream is to combine my passions for science, beauty and vintage in one. 

All of my friends could tell you that thrifting already takes up a big part of my life… My collection is growing rapidly so I’m sure that for now I will start organising pop-ups in Paris more often.

I see you're originally from Warsaw - what drew you to Paris

Two things. I've always been curious about French culture, especially Paris itself, as many Polish people were drawn here. I've noticed that based on their stories, these two cultures somehow get a common point. Some of my biggest role models, who were Polish, moved from Poland and spent the second part of their lives in Paris — Frederic Chopin, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, and Helena Rubinstein. I've been a huge fan of Chopin, I studied his music during my time at music school, for competitions, and later worked as a guide in his museum in Warsaw. I felt compelled to come to Paris to explore all the places connected with him that I've read about. As I’m a chemist, you might understand why the two women I mentioned played an important role. I’ve always dreamt of having my cosmetic brand and knowing that Helena Rubinstein and the owners of Sisley came from Poland, I was simply a bit curious and inspired. All in all I decided that I would love to explore this city.

Later on, I received a scholarship that covered all of my life expenses throughout my entire master's studies at the University Paris Saclay. Well, I couldn't say no!

Ok! So let's chat flea markets - how long have you been scouring the Paris flea markets for?

The first thing to mention is that I started strolling around flea markets when I was very young, around 4 years old. My grandpa used to take me to them in Poland every Sunday, so it quickly became one of my favorite ways of spending my spare time. I moved to Paris for the first time in 2020 when I started my studies, and I remember that during my first week, I spotted a flea market next to Montparnasse. I was disappointed when I couldn't find it there a week later, and searching for information online wasn't intuitive. That's why I came up with the idea of sharing the locations in English to make them more accessible. Once I found a second flea market, I kept going there at least once every one or two weeks, and it's been like this ever since. I took a one-year break from regularly visiting flea markets while I was living in Portugal. My boyfriend lived in Paris at that time, so whenever I visited him, I still made sure to see the markets.

What is your best ever find? What are the best things to look for at the flea markets in Paris?

I would say that my best finds are:

  • one trench coat - it’s a vintage Dior trench coat. Extremely rare find. I remember I saw one like that at the first flea market I saw in Paris but cost 600 euros so wasn’t for a pocket of a student who just moved from Warsaw to Paris. I found the same one last year, still super excited. Wasn’t that expensive so I know how lucky I was spotting it and has extra meaning to me as I was looking for it for years.
  • two pairs of shoes - vintage Gucci and Miu Miu, their prices were crazy low 4 and 10 euros and I got them from a very sweet older lady. 
  • and one vintage watch. It’s just the most me watch I’ve ever seen and cost me 5 euros.

In terms of what are the best things to look for, it depends how long you are going to stay in Paris. I would say, do not expect to find a vintage designer for 5 euros, these are extremely rare finds that you can spot when you are extremely lucky or when you spend crazy amount of time at the flea markets as I do. The easiest beautiful vintage find is the vintage jewerly. 

Which markets have been your most successful?

Each time different one. It’s good to not to be closed on one arrondisement but to explore. It depends what someone is looking for. If someone is here just for a weekend and want to find sth from designers, it’s better to go to the professional one. It will be a bit more expensive but with already preselected items. Whenever I share a list of the upcoming flea markets, I always make sure to indicate if the market is pro or not. 

What about outside of central Paris? Have you had any luck in the outer areas or other cities in france?

I’ve been to one in Marseille but was rather small, could not compare it to the Parisian ones. The one, that should be saved for later by everyone, is the big Braderie de Lille (big sale in the Lille city). It happens during the first week of September and is a big deal. The whole city becomes a one big flea market. It’s the biggest event like this in Europe. I went there last year and absolutely loved it. I love the fact that I got a map of the city that was a map of the flea markets! Another rare thing is that part of the market takes place at an amusement park. It’s a two day event - Saturday and Sunday. I went there on Sunday and I regret as most of the cool finds got sold a day before. 

Do you have any interesting thrifting stories? Have you met any interesting characters at the flea markets? Which is your favourite stall?

I am always amazed with all the people, older grandmas who just come with their trinkets and each of them has a story. One of the stories is that when I asked for a price of some shoes that an older lady was selling, she replied “these are so old, damaged shoes that spent tens of years in my wardrobe, that I will sell them for 4 euros and 10 euros”. These were the Gucci and Miu Miu heels. She called them old, I called them vintage.. 

A few weeks ago, an older saleman who I see almost every week, came to me to show me some pictures of himself and of people who came to him to the flea market, among them Taylor Swift, Kardashians etc…

Once I met an older lady who invited me to her garage that was a museum of the flea market trinkets (my future dream…). 

At the same time, I met some very sweet older ladies who always greet me with “oh madame you again, ca va?!”. It makes my day.

Do you have any shopping tips?

It is very okay to haggle, just don’t shock them with propositions of very low prices as they will probably feel that you do not respect what they sell while very often these are their souvenirs. I got once a vintage Nina’s Ricci shirt and tried to negotiate but that lady told me - Madame, I bought it 30 year ago in Paris and you wouldn’t imagine how much it cost me then, cannot sell it for less…Respect it! Do not take official photos, they don’t like it. I always take some from behind. It’s good to be early as the coolest finds are not sold yet but it’s also good to come at the end - they will be more open to negotiate. Learn very very basics of French - how to ask for the price and numbers, that’s really all you need. The sellers very rarely speak English but everyone is very kind, just don’t start speaking English, I noticed that it makes some of them frustrated and will give you higher prices. 


Where are the best flea markets to go?

Main flea markets change their locations every week and these are the ones that I recommend the most. There are some permanent ones like the one at Porte de Vanves that is great (every Saturday and Sunday in the mornings) or Place d’Aligre that takes place Tuesday-Sunday in the mornings or the famous one in Saint Ouen (this one you will find on google maps). The one with books and poster is at 15 rue de Brancion (check on google maps), extremely cute! 

You've recently launched your own pop up - tell us a little about that!

I’ve organised one flea market stand and then two pop ups in the center of Paris. This time even more people came and it was so much fun to meet people and to organise it with my girlfriends. l was reselling my closet where 99% were secondhand from which sth like 90% were from the flea markets. We will definitely do it again. We are thinking of the summer edition in June. 

What about vintage stores - do you have any favourites or recommendations in Paris

I have plenty! I describe them on my page and it’s a long list. There is one “brand” that I think needs extra attention is the Emmaus which is a charity shop and they give place to work for people who are in need as also they devote the raised money for charity. I found tons of vintage clothes there. 



Porte de Vanves -  16-18 Av. Georges Lafenestre

Rue D'Aligre - Place Aligre & Rue Aligre complete, 75012 Paris, France

Saint Oen - 87 Rue des Rosiers

Marché du livre ancien et d’occasion Georges Brassens - 104 Rue de Brancion

Braderie De Lille -  From Friday the 13th of September to Sunday the 15th of September

April 29, 2024