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Flea Market Shopping in Paris

Paris’s flea markets are Parisian sights in themselves that are well worth the detour. The flea market or “Marché des Puces” at Saint Ouen is generally thought to be the largest of its kind in the world. Encompassing 3,000 traders, over a space of 4 hectares -- this is a Parisian institution that hasn’t changed much since 1885.

Spending a Sunday or Saturday wandering the flea market is a dream come through for decorating fanatics. Even if you have little interest in antiques, the market is worth a visit to see the incredible collections of furniture and vintage wares. Whatever your desire, whether its 50s glassware, designer vintage handbags, or Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier reproductions, it’s possible to find it at the Flea Market.

Localers had the opportunity to meet and speak for a few minuets to a trader who has been working at the flea market for years. Born into a family of antique dealers, Eva Cwajg wanted to carry on the family tradition. She set up a stall at Vernaison, the oldest section in the flea market at St. Ouen.

An early passion in porcelain led to her to specialize in tableware. At her stall, one can find exceptional 19th century French dinner services in monogrammed porcelain or country-style earthenware with floral motifs, without forgetting tableware from the 40s and 50s (very much in vogue at the moment).

Crystal by Baccarat and Saint Louis, light up the piles of plates and charming paintings that line the walls of her stall. Eva’s stall has become a destination for collectors and connoisseurs of refined tableware.

Eva gives her top tips for first time visitors to the flea market

Localers: What do you like about the flea market?
Eva: It’s the variety of people that you might meet. It’s not just the customers but the sellers also.

L: What’s the best approach today when setting the table? How has the art of setting the table changed?
E: Porcelain with pretty motifs and a good dinner service are very sought after at the moment. What’s really important is the certification, “Made in France”. For example, porcelain from Limoges is in big demand.

L: The antique dealers at the flea markets are reputed for their mercurial characters. What things should visitors avoid saying when they are asking questions about stock?
E: Concerning my table-wear, the remark which I hate the most, and it’s one that I hear thousands of times each week: “Look, it’s funny my grandmother had the same!” That drives me crazy! Otherwise a question that exasperates the sellers: “It’s pretty, is it new?” No, how could it be new? We are at the flea market!

L:What advice would you give people coming for the first time?
E:If you are visiting the flea market you need to take your time, there are so many things to see. I think you need check out the stalls and shops that interest you the most, comeback later near the end of your visit and negotiate a price.

L:If you could recommend another flea market, which one would it be?
E: Oh god what an idea! How can I talk about another flea market when the one I work in is the biggest in Europe? However, if I had to give one address, I guess Portobello Market in London isn’t too bad. It’s a little small though, but exotic non-the-less.

L: One more question for the road, your mink coat, is it real?
E:What! It was bought here at the market two years ago. It’s not bad, is it? What do you think?

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