Paris has always been known as one of the best shopping destinations on the planet, but if truth be told, the excessiveness of designer boutiques and oh-so-chic exorbitantly priced garb has also helped dilute the uniqueness and charm the city centre once boasted. Main shopping drags like the Champs-Élysées and Avenue Montaigne still attract the masses, yet to be honest, there’s nothing you’ll find here that you won’t find in every other major city capital. Ahh…the joys of globalization.
Fortunately, however, Paris has always fought vehemently to retain its cultural identity no matter how many borders have disappeared, and the city still boasts some brilliantly different finds of all sorts. From vintage clothing to home decor, antiques and hand-made arts and crafts, the city’s more off-beat markets and stores offer a uniquely Parisian shopping find…and it’s here that we’ll recommend you venture.
Paris Shopping – Marche de la Creation de Paris
When: all day Sundays
What for: one-off artworks made, signed and sold by local artists
Nearest metro: Edgar Quinet
Paris is certainly not shy of great artwork, the city either inspiring or attracting people to create masterpieces. Yet while the city’s art-scene, and art-shopping scene thrives, there are still only a handful of places where you can buy one-off pieces directly from the artiste. The Montparnasse Sunday market offers some quite original works, and what we love about it is that only the artist him/herself is allowed to rent a stand here, giving buyers direct contact with the city’s most talented locals. This market runs the gamut of the art ‘world’, so you’ll also find amazing jewellery pieces, photo frames, glass ornaments and much more.
Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen
When: Saturdays, Sunday and Mondays
What for: everything! This is the biggest flea market in the world
Nearest Metro: Porte de Clignancourt
There is nothing cutesy or subtle about this flea market, (considering it covers an area of over 17 acres and receives more than 180,000 visitors every single week-end), yet it is still one of the most historic in town, and has been running (and growing) continuously since 1885. As expected, it covers several city blocks and offers the astute buyer some incredible bargains on antiques and artwork; as well as a lot of extremely useless dust-collectors and cheap knock-offs. Scratch the surface and spend up big, or just spend an entire day perusing the stalls and the equally entrancing crowds the market attracts.
When: hmm…that depends
What for: quality antiques and artworks
Nearest metro: Saint-Paul
The area around Saint-Paul and Marais is well recognized as a hub of art galleries and antique shops, yet the Village Saint-Paul, on the southern fringes, is one of the few undiscovered gems for tourists. The ‘village’ is a collection of colourful courtyards, brimming with quality antiques and artworks for the connoisseur and, it must be said, the affluent traveler. The most curious thing about this village is that hours are rather sporadic and, while the organizers find this rather ‘charming’, it may get a tad annoying on your third unsuccessful visit! Head here nonetheless, and admire the incredible artwork on show. Granted only if the shops are actually open…
Marché Bio des Batignolles
When: Saturdays, 9am-2pm
What for: freshest organic produce in Paris
Nearest Metro: Rome
People who think the only souvenirs worth buying are those one can keep for years are really going to miss out on the best shopping Paris has to offer. While some people prefer to buy a piece of Paris to take home, we’re quite fond of the idea of taking a piece of Paris and touching it, smelling it, eating and, quite possibly, never forgetting it.
Considered the best organic produce market in town, and the first of its kind in the Paris, the Batignolles open-air market hits all the senses in all the right way. Here, you can stock up on delectable olive oils, cured cheeses and hams, pickled artichokes, roasted eggplant and more than enough mouth watering baguette-fillings to tempt your taste buds for your entire stay. While you’re at it don’t forget to visit the in-market bakeries for crusty pain and perhaps even chocolate croissants for that mid-afternoon sugar slump. Oh, and a visit to the clever guy who cooks deliciously hot ‘potato galettes’ right in front of you may not go amiss either. Bon appétit!
Be aware that there are two markets within a few blocks of each other, the second being an indoor, mediocre-ish affair. The one to ask for is the Marché Bio, or organic market.
Christos Loufopoulos via Flickr
Cyrill Ruelle via Flickr
ParisSharing via Flickr