By Theadora Brack in Paris—
This week I’ll introduce you to a few of my favorite dealers at the flea market. What makes them so extraordinary? I’ve known them for nearly ten years, and they’ve always been witty, kind and incredibly personable. Also, whenever I’ve been away for a stretch of time, they’ll greet me with un petit cadeau (little gift) or discount. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the locals value loyalty and repeat business—fidélité—as much as anything.
Besides, their objects of beauty, kitschy goods, and vibrant wares have always been reasonably priced, too. So keep your eyes peeled for these superstar dealers (and your future friends) at the Puces! Most of them have been showing up at the century-old Porte de Vanves for decades. Their location changes depending on the day, so study these photos! Have a question or looking for a specific item? Do ask—and tell ’em you’re a Cheapo!
Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves (Porte de Vanves Flea Market)
Metro: Port de Vanves, line 13
Days and hours: Every Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As the flea market opens at 7 a.m., and the dealers start packing up to leave around noon, get your beauty rest, and arrive early! Carry cash and a sturdy bag for your finds. By the way, just beyond the Métro station, you’ll find an ATM machine, a patisserie, and a café with a WC.
I’ll wait for you inside the cozy Le Fournil de Vanves Patisserie. Why do I love this place? Because whenever I’ve spent all my coins over at the flea market, they’ve never, ever complained about breaking a big euro bill—even for a cookie sale!
Okay! Finish the cookie before it crumbles, and let’s shop till we drop!
Looking for kitsch in all the right places?
Catherine has got you covered. Through the years, she’s helped me build a fantastical and oh, so hip vintage sunglass collection! Today I was able to score a glow-in-dark Mary statue for just one euro! I attempted to also buy a few marbles, but she threw them in the bag and whispered the magic word, “cadeau” with a wink! She’s been with Porte de Vanves for nearly 22 years! “I was just a baby,” when I started she said with a big laugh. I like her. And you’ll appreciate her humor and discounts, too!
Looking for fine vintage duds?
The fashionable and super-cute Martine has been with the flea market for a decade. I always make a point of popping by her booth because her prices are so reasonable and I find her family of mannequins so charming! You’ve seen them, Cheapos. I’ve featured them here in previous stories. This time, however, they were fully clothed! And Martine agreed to pose for a stylish family portrait! Oh, la la! Again, if you’re on a quest for something special, ask Martine! Vintage clothing is her life passion.
Dial “M” for magnificent
Golly, I’ve photographed this booth many times because of the colors they use! Besides being photogenic, the objects are quite interesting. More than once I’ve spent a full hour at their table. Danielle and Pierre (pictured, top) have been with the flea market for 25 years.
“We price to sell, not keep,” Danielle told me today. It’s true! All items are reasonably priced. They specialize in vintage perfume bottles, barware, kitchen ceramics, tools, and other objects of curiosity. Need a conversational piece for the office or home? Here’s your stop! Again, laughter and good cheer reign here! It’s contagious.
And speaking of big giggles and blushes, my name is Theadora, and I have a new flea market obsession. I’ve seen them for years, but I’ve never been drawn to them. They’ve never screamed my name until last week at Serge’s booth. Cheapos, I’m now head over heels in love with French vintage advertising key chains. I know! Weird, eh? In ten minutes (one hour in flea market time), I went from zero to fifteen!
My absolute favorite is one from a little dress shop called “Fifi’s.” Inside is a miniature 3-d metallic red dress, circa (I’m guessing) the early Sixties. I blame the rather handsome Serge! You see, each one cost one euro, BUT if you purchase seven, well then, the total is just 5 euros. Get the addictive picture? He’ll even give you a basket, a chair, and if it’s cold—he’ll lend you his gloves. Do stop by and say hello to Serge!
While you’re at it, do stop by and say hello to Catherine, Martine, Pierre, and Danielle, too! Stay tuned for more Porte de Vanves profiles! I suppose you can tell that I love this place? Clipping from Holly Golightly, like Tiffany’s, it feels like nothing ever bad could ever happen to you here.
Happy hunting, Cheapos! Got a flea market question? Bring it on!