From a young age, I’ve been drawn to vintage and antique furniture, clothes and household items. Not only they do have their own unique energy, but they also carry spirit and history of the past. There is something mysterious and magical about vintage and antique elements. When I got the opportunity to travel to Paris I right away made a list of places that I wanted to visit. On the top of my list was Paris’s largest Flea and antique market, the famous Marchè aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. The very next day after my arrival I got ready for an adventure to the 14th arrondissement.Order now
The market was just outside of Paris near the Porte de Clignancourt. Since it tends to close up early in the afternoon, I woke up early as I could. It was a beautiful sunny summer morning and I was full of excitement. I step out of the apartment and head five blocks toward the metro. Just before I got to the metro station I stopped at the corner of a pastry shop and picked up a freshly baked crispy croissant and a cup of delicious coffee. I felt cool sensation in my chest either from drinking coffee or from overwhelming excitement. I entered the metro station and it took me about 40 min to get to the place.
Once I got out of the station I found myself in a very diverse neighborhood. There was a great mix of Africans, Arabs and foreigners. The streets were dirty, crowded and had odors of strange foods cooking. I quickly started following my map’s direction. In order for me to get to the antique market I had to go through a street market where immigrants from all over the world were selling cheap merchandize. The sellers yelled “Madam, Madam” from all sides of the market. I called my friend to express my disappointment. And once the vendors heard me speaking Russian , they started to call me “ Natasha”.
Uh, how dare they! I felt like there was no end to it. There were hundreds of stands selling anything from small electronics to Adidas sport items, but there were no antiques. I came to the point where I could not tolerate the crowds and annoying vendors any longer and then I saw a large antiquish looking entry gate. It was hard not to be instantly impressed by its elegantly rustic design. After I passed through the gate, the market was a labyrinth, one narrow street after another. It was very fascinating. I couldn’t believe how many little shops there were and all of them had their own personality.
Some specialized in vintage clothing, some in household items, and some in vintage costumes and jewelry. The market managed to keep its old charm and unique character through its traditional Parisian settings with outdoor tables and bright flowers. Walking by each of them you could see everything from vintage chandeliers and silver to architectural elements, and all other things practical and whimsical. I went through very narrow streets filled with shops. It was crowded and people were moving slow. As soon as I approached the corner I heard the music, jazz inspired piano music.
There was a shop a few doors down the side street. Its massive wooden door with brass handles and uncommon large circular brass lock looked unusual. At first I didn’t think it was open. I pressed my face against of the small store window and looked inside, shading my eyes from the sun with my hands. Suddenly, I saw a pair of dark eyes looking back at me. I almost jumped! There was a woman working on the window display. She smiled and motioned for me to come in. I was a little afraid because I thought that merchandize would be out of my budget, but I was too intrigued.
As I opened the door and I was swept into one of the most enchanting stores I have ever seen. ” Bonjour, madam” she said with a smile. This place was like magic. From the moment I stepped inside I saw the variety of quality, solid wood furniture, delicate ancient French paintings and ornate decorations. The place was filled with very unique antiques, such as old- world tables, chairs, and other strange objects. The store was beautifully decorated with paintings and frames hanging on the walls and tastefully placed furniture. Very rustic yet very chic.
It was as if this store appeared out of my imagination… everything I ever wanted but couldn’t put into words was in it. The history wasn’t just on the walls, you could feel it in your bones, and different eras were represented. I found myself charmed by the 1950’s-era night lamp. It was Tiffany glass in bright red, green and brown colors. It brought back the memories of items my grandmother used to have in her home. I got a good glimpse into what French society used to be in the past from many objects. The place had an interesting smell of a rich cherry wood.
There was something innately beautiful, genuine, and absolutely stunning about it. I could not describe the ambiance, but I was mesmerized by it. I finally found the source of music. There, in the corner, was an antique looking pianist, dressed in a white shirt and a neck scarf playing on a tiny piano in the darkest corner of the store. It reminded me a scene from a Woody Allen movie. I spent nearly one and a half hour in the store. When I left I had a warm cozy feeling all over my heart. Streets were still crowded, full of curiosity and vibrant energy.