A visit to a brocante (a french word for flea market) can be the highlight of a trip to France: a lively encounter with everyday French culture, an exciting way to spend a few hours, and a chance to pick up a unique souvenir or add to a collection. Discover our flea market listing and brocante directory of the best flea markets to visit in France.
Flea Markets in PARIS
There are flea markets in every pocket of the French capital, and you can get anything you want, from authentic Euro antiques to fake watches, classical furniture and the latest sneakers. However, the three main Paris flea markets are the Marche aux Puces de Montreuil flea market in the 20th district, or arrondissement, to the east; the Marche aux Puces flea market de la Porte de Vanves near Montparnasse to the south; and the massive Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market, just outside Montmartre to the north.
These brocante vary in size and there are smaller flea markets to be explored, but they are as much an essential part of a Paris trip as the Louvre. And once you’ve mastered the Metro, you can see the best of them in one day of all-out shopping.
Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt (St-Ouen flea market)
Originally the site of rag-and-bone men – otherwise known as “pecheurs de lune” (moon fishermen), due to their habits of stealing other people’s rubbish by night and then selling it on their stalls – who lived outside the city’s borders, Saint-Ouen flea market has a long history of market trading. In the late 19th century, these traders joined together to form what is now Paris’s largest and most famous flea market, attracting between 120,000 to 180,000 visitors every weekend.
Saint-Ouen flea market hosts no fewer than twelve different flea markets (among which many indoor flea markets), with around a couple of thousand stalls in total. This brocante covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world. That means it’s pretty much impossible to come away without at least a few goodies. Head to Marché Vernaison flea market on Rue des Rosiers for narrow alleyways full of collectables and antiques like kitchenware, books and table lamps, or if you’re feeling flush, Marché Dauphin flea market on the same street for some upmarket jewellery and ornate antique furniture. Porte de Clignancourt flea market is on metro line 4.
Marché aux Puces Porte de Clignancourt
140 Rue des Rosiers
93400 Saint-Ouen, France
01 40 11 77 36
Puces de Vanves flea market
The weekend flea market near the Porte de Vanves metro stop in Paris is one of the very best brocante in France, in terms of size and the eclectic nature of its wares. On Saturday and Sunday (Saturday is perhaps busier) morning, more than 300 vendors set up at this flea market until around 1pm (though a small number stay later). Some display their goods attractively on tables, while others simply pile them on blankets on the ground. You can find just about everything at this brocante, from the many regions of France as well as elsewhere – not surprising given the international character of Paris. At the Vanves flea market, one can expect to see paintings, ceramics, silver, art deco, 60s and 70s items, linens, books, militaria, kitchenware, and vintage clothing – among many other collectables – at prices that run the gamut. Not a very scenic spot, this is a flea market for people keen to buy rather than sight-see.
Link to the official website of Les Puces de Vanves.
Don’t miss your chance to read our special review of the the Vanves Flea Market. More reviews will regularly be added to our unique flea market directory/flea market listing!
Montreuil Flea Market
Established in the 19th century, Montreuil flea market is one of the oldest flea markets, and it still has the air of a traditional brocante. There are about 500 stalls at this flea market and it is known as the best place to pick up some distinctly Parisian previously loved clothing. Picking your way through vintage clothes, vintage products, vintage images, vintage style dresses, garbled French, aged crockery, faded but fantastic jewellery, rumpled yet grand furniture Gallic, unique vintage, hip-hop and exotic food, it’s hard not to get drawn in.
Place de la Porte de Montreuil
75020 Paris, France
+33 1 41 58 14 09
Recommended Travel Guide: Make the most of your flea market trip in Paris with the book Paris Flea Market Style by Claudia Strasser
NORTH OF FRANCE flea markets
Braderie de Lille flea market (Saturday September 6th – Sunday September 7th, 2014 // 10,000 exhibitors)
Just an hour outside of Paris by TGV, the town of Lille is home to one of the most anticipated events in France: the annual two-day Braderie de Lille flea market. As the largest flea market in all of Europe, this vibrant event dates back to medieval times and now attracts almost two million visitors each September. The “Braderie” (French for “sell at a low price”) flea market offers over 10,000 exhibitors hawking their wares with everything from knick-knacks to treasures. Saturday kicks off the Braderie de Lille flea market, and as with any yard sale, the first day offers the best selection. Note that “window shopping” is allowed on Saturday morning, but the sale does not officially begin until 2:00 p.m. Although the streets will get crowded and may even come to a standstill at times, it pays to do your research to know what you want to purchase ahead of time. There are tons of original pieces to be had, but there are also many items that are seemingly mass-produced just for the Braderie flea market. With over 62 miles of vendors, the Braderie de Lille flea market is divided up into sections: the smaller boulevards, the friendlier non-professional vendors (where you’ll find smaller antiques, vintage furniture, vintage style clothing, records, and books), and the larger streets where there’s a huge selection of new ethnic items for sale, including fabulous artwork, antique archaeology, antiques & collectibles, antique bottles, and paintings. Antiques are displayed along Jean-Baptiste Lebas Boulevard, while décor furniture can be found at la Facade de l’Esplanade and Deule Canal. There’s also a large gathering between the streets of La Porte de Roubaix and L’Opera where professional vendors specialize in antiques from the U.K.
Here is a video of the Braderie de Lille 2012 flea market (I’d recommend to watch it in HD to see all the nice details…):
WEST OF FRANCE flea markets
Orléans Flea Market
The town of Orléans, a gateway to the Loire region, has a moderate-sized, but wide-ranging, flea market on Saturday mornings. The several vendors who display their wares in boxes or heaped on blankets at the Orléan flea market will appeal to bargain hunters. Rustic items, tied to the agricultural and fishing roots of the surrounding region, are much in evidence – tools, buckets, jugs, wine-making implements, planters, baskets, fishing rods, antique bottles, glass domes (used to protect young plants), etc. You will also see at this flea market, finer ceramics and porcelain, and good-quality linens, alongside crates of kitchenware and utensils. Prices are generally reasonable and vendors are keen to sell. This is a flea market easily accessible as a day trip, by TGV, from Paris.
Tours Flea Market
The ”Garden of France” hosts a brilliant monthly flea market with around 150 stalls stuffed with fine French porcelain, books, furniture, antique bottles and charming old agricultural equipment. The city’s easy to reach by rail – just over an hour from Paris on a high speed TGV, so it’s perfectly possible to visit the Boulevard Béranger market on a day trip. However, it’s well worth spending a few days in delightful Tours to explore the wonderful architecture, botanical gardens and vineyards.
Tours flea market is located Boulevard Béranger, first Sunday of the month, Tours
Nantes Flea Market
This 100-stall strong flea market on the Atlantic shores is a brilliant place to unearth all kinds of antiques, curios and collectibles. Nantes’ stunning location on the rugged Brittany coast means it’s easy to unearth some vintage or quirky nauticalia, alongside more usual flea market finds like books and postcards, pottery and porcelain, and Quimper ceramics. Place Viarme is easily reached by taking Tram 1 to Commerce then changing to Tram 3 for the Viarme-Talensac stop. The tram departs from right outside the train station.
Nantes flea market is located Place Viarme, every Saturday, Nantes
SOUTH & SOUTH-WEST OF FRANCE flea markets
Toulouse Flea Market
“La Ville Rose” hosts a huge monthly flea market packed with books, military memorabilia, fine French porcelain and other eclectic goodies. Even better, there’s also a weekly flea market over at the Place Saint-Sernin with around 50 stalls, making the city a bargain hunter’s dream destination. Toulouse is a wonderful, underrated place to explore too, with pastel pink medieval buildings in the old town and La Cité de L’espace, a sprawling theme park dedicated to space exploration, on the outskirts of town.
Toulouse flea market is located Allées Jules Guesde, first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month (except October), Toulouse
Mirepoix Flea Market
Some of the small towns and villages in France have a wonderful reputation for staging huge flea markets, just once or twice a year, when the entire community is taken over by anything from 200 to 500 stalls. It’s like a massive car-boot sale but with all the trappings of a genuine antique and collectible market. You’d be amazed at the things that turn up. These flea markets are called “vide-greniers” – or attic sales. The village of Auriac-sur-Vendinelle hosts one over an entire weekend in May. There are professional dealers, and amateurs just there for the fun of it. Certainly worth a trip if you are in the area.
Montpellier Flea Market
It’s about as far south as you can go in France, but beautiful Montpellier is only three hours away from Paris by high speed TGV. Don’t let first impressions of the huge, sprawling flea market put you off. Head past the first stalls and you’ll find antique and vintage furniture, classic blue and white enamelware, antique bottles, antique archaeology, paintings and pottery, as well as dozens of food stalls serving up pungent local snacks like merguez and andouillette sausages.
Montpellier flea market is located in L’Espace Mosson, every Sunday, Montpellier
Arles Flea Market
A modest-sized, but interesting, flea market is held in Arles on the first Wednesday of the month, all day. While spanning a wide variety in terms of collectables, this is a flea market much in tune with its southern Provençal roots. Vintage Arlesian clothing – black vests, short jackets, white blouses, colourful shawls, and full skirts – can be found here, as well as ribbons, beaded purses, and lace. This corner of Provence is also reflected in “santons” (ceramic figures in Provençal dress), antique door handles with images of Camargue bulls, ceramic “cigales” (cicadas), and nail-studded “boules”.
Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Flea Market
Just across the Rhone from Avignon itself, a moderate-sized, appealing flea market is held in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon on Saturday mornings. Between 80 and 100 vendors set up here, offering a wide range of items, many with a focus on Provence – Provençal ceramics, antique bottles, garden pots and accessories, bedspreads and linens, agricultural tools and utensils, “boules” etc. This is a good flea market for those hoping to make an interesting discovery, at a reasonable price.
Carpentras Flea Market
On Sundays, all day (starting around 10), the town of Carpentras, north of Avignon, hosts a large, sprawling flea market. This is a favoured haunt of the more intrepid collector, willing to forage through boxes and crates in search of a gem. Many of the 130 to 150 vendors here are regular people selling their own belongings, which often fall more into the category of “second-hand” than “collectable”. The variety in terms of wares and prices is huge, with an emphasis on the rustic and everyday, rather than fine decorative objects. If you are looking for something really unusual and surprising, this is one of the best flea markets to find it, though you will have to expend some energy in the process. On a recent visit, for example, I saw a stuffed wild boar head, as well as some Rosenthal china, in a box of broken crockery.
Carpentras flea market is located on Parking des Platanes.
Nice Flea Market
On Monday, from morning to mid-afternoon, Nice’s colourful, sun-drenched cours Saleya (just behind the Promenade des Anglais) is filled with around 200 flea market vendors selling their wares. This is a fairly high-quality flea market; however, bargain hunters can also score a good find, particularly in the adjacent place Pierre Gauthier, where odds and ends are piled on the ground. A huge variety of collectables is on offer at this flea market: silver, vintage clothing, posters, antique bottles, vintage furniture, vintage clothing, nautical and travel items, ceramics (with some emphasis on regional items from Monaco and Vallauris), paintings, vintage images, toys, rustic wooden items, jewellery, etc. This is a great flea market for visitors who are as interested in sun and people-watching as they are in purchasing collectables. You will hear many languages being spoken and some vendors speak English, as well as Italian.
EAST OF FRANCE flea markets
Villeurbanne Flea Market, Lyon
Lyon’s well known for its culinary credentials. Legend has it that France’s gastro capital has more restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in Europe. The weekly flea market is pretty fabulous too, with around 400 stalls regularly packing the streets to sell rustic goodies like old boules sets, vintage kitchenware, farm tools and antique furniture. Villeurbanne, also the site of the impressive Gratte-Ciel Art Deco towers, is a few miles to the north east of the city centre. Take the Rhone Express T3 tram.
Annecy Vieux Quartier Flea Market
The monthly flea market in Annecy’s stunning Viarme Quartier can claim bragging rights for the best location of the country’s brocantes. A lot of the goods on offer reflect the city’s status as a gateway to the Alps. Vintage snow shoes and skis, rustic Savoyard cheese-making equipment and boxes full of cowbells all regularly turn up, alongside more traditional wares like antique paintings, pottery and furniture.
Belfort Flea Market
Belfort’s sprawling, good-sized flea market is held on the first Sunday morning of each month, except January and February. Located in the Franche-Comté region, not far from Alsace, this flea market is a great place to find collectables of all kinds from the northeast of France – Alsatian bowls and milk pitchers with flower motifs, grey stoneware jugs, classic ceramic baking molds, and folkloric dishware from Lorraine. You will also see clocks (from nearby Besançon), enamel plaques from Alsace, linens, militaria, books, toys, glassware, copperware, wooden items of all sorts and some furniture.
Recommended Travel Guide: Make the most of your flea market trip in France with the book The Flea Markets of France by Sandy Price