With the journey from London St Pancras to Paris Nord taking two hours 22 minutes, the mini break to Paris can now be reduced to the weekend break or even a day’s shopping trip if anyone feels fit enough. However, if planning to go for the day, time must not be wasted and those interested in antiques might fancy a little shopping.
French flea markets offer the British Francophile a rare insight into the real French culture, but to find the real France the visitor must be prepared to travel outside the usual tourist spots to the suburbs. Three of Paris’s major flea markets are located near to the boulevard perpherique, the major ring road that surrounds the city. The visitor should not expect anything smart. These flea markets are more in tune with Brick Lane in London rather than the quaint French country brocantes on Sun, Sea and Bargain Spotting, and are often quite scruffy affairs, so again the visitor should be prepared.
The largest market is the Puces de Saint Ouen which has between 2-3000 vendors and is open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and can be reached via the Metro, so ideal for a weekend trip. The serious bargain hunter should arrive early, otherwise mid morning is fine. It is also better to blend in rather than stand out so try not to look like a tourist, beware of pickpockets, try and speak some French and always be polite.
Of course, buying antiques in France does bring its own problems of safe transport or shipping as well as currency exchanges so although many like to wander the flea markets, the deals to be had buying the antique chest in Lancashire or London are surprisingly good value.
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