I love the Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen, the biggest flea market in Paris. It is so huge, that every time I go I find new passages and covered markets brimming with interesting furniture, postcards, vintage clothes and books. Last weekend I stumbled on the corner of the market dedicated to garden furniture and ornaments.
This yard is an ali-baba’s cave of reclaimed garden statuary, urns and fountains. The 18th century French style is much in evidence with garlands decorating urns and statues of cherubs and nymphs. Crammed into this tiny plot are life-sized bronzes of horses, bears, lions and stags. Further back I found pairs of hunting dogs, a kitsch golfer, a fountain with leaping dolphins, a pious Virgin Mary and huge fire irons that could support a tree trunk.
The trees, fallen leaves and cobbles add to the romantic abandoned atmosphere. On a dull November afternoon it was rather dark, thus the slightly blurry photo, but the terracotta planters are beautiful so I couldn’t resist including this photo.
The furniture always has a little brass plaque “Usine St. Sauveur, Arras” attached to the middle of the seat-back and have feet that are shaped like horses hooves. From my brief research on the internet I learned that the factories were producing garden furniture from the 1840’s to the 1920’s. Reproductions are available and so I’m not sure if these are originals or repro.
This stall holder had stacked his garden tables and chairs by colour from black and white to gold and green. He was packing up to go when I arrived (due to my Sunday lie-in) but an example of the style of furniture is still on the pavement behind.
I wondered whether this urn was Chinese, or inspired by Chinese urns. I saw something very similar at the water village of Zhujiajaio while working for Dan Pearson on a project near Shanghai.
Most of the stalls selling garden related items are in rue Jules Vallès around the market called ‘Le Passage’, however there are other stalls dotted around the rest of the market. I spotted this stall selling antique or vintage gardening tools in the covered ‘Dauphine’ market.
The Marché aux Puces de St. Ouen is a short walk from the metro station Porte de Clignancourt on line 4 or from the stations Porte St. Ouen or Garibaldi on the line 13. The bus 85 runs right through the main street of the market. The market is open from 10am to 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. There are a reduced number of stalls during August. More information can be found on the MAP website or the Tourisme St Ouen website (English version) which also has a handy downloadable plan.
There are several nice cafés and restaurants dotted around the market. For picnics there is an excellent big Monoprix on the junction of rue Jean Henri Fabre and Rue Charles Schmidt.
If you buy something that needs to be shipped home, I did see a UK-based shipping company in the marché Jules Vallès.
Be careful with your bags and phones as there are pickpockets.