Gather around, my fellow multitasking “Puces de Paris” junkies. Here’s a twofer for you: a hot “flea market sandwich” with a virtually free bus tour filling in between. Tous à bord!
Two flea markets and a Paris city tour
No worry lines, though, because I have the solution: Let me introduce you to the 95 bus line, or, as I call it, the “Oriental Rug Express.” It connects the two best flea markets in the city: the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves (bus stop: Porte de Vanves) and the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt (bus stop: Porte de Montmartre).
For the mere price of a metro ticket (the same tickets work for both buses and metros), you’ll not only travel between the flea markets in comfort (the markets are at both ends of the line, so you’re guaranteed a seat), but you’ll also be able to kick back, catch your breath, and boast about your first kills of the day while the panorama of Paris rolls by en route to the next market. The 95 is one of the most scenic bus lines in the city, so don’t pack your camera away!
Junket bus tips
Hit the Porte de Vanves market first, since it’s open only on weekend mornings. Arrive early—vendors start packing up at noon. Shop your heart out, and then hop on the 95.
Cold outside and no bus in sight? Grab a café at bar “Grill 14” directly behind the bus stop. While warming up, you can keep an eye out for your ride. There’s a WC in the bar and an ATM machine just around the corner, too.
Once aboard, you’ll cruise clear across Paris to Clignancourt, which stays open till 7 PM. The ride is as good as a guided tour! Here are just a few of the hotspots you’ll glimpse whilst snaking through Paris’ narrow streets for the next 45 minutes.
Keep your eyes peeled for:
1. Institut Pasteur — Got milk? here’s why!
2. Gare Montparnasse — Jumping off place for Chartres, and points west and south-west.
3. Tour Montparnasse — Tallest building in France.
4. Musée de la Poste — Way more than just a stamp collection.
5. Rue de Rennes — Left bank shopping mecca.
6. Félix Potin building, 140 rue de Rennes. Art Nouveau masterpiece, now home to a Zara.
7. L’Eglise Saint-Germain des-Prés — Oldest church in central Paris.
8. Sennelier art supply, 3 Quai Voltaire — Where Picasso & friends got their paint.
9. Pont du Carrousel — Statues representing Industry, Abundance, Paris, and the Seine.
10. Pont des Arts – First cast-iron bridge in the city, for pedestrians only.
11. Musée du Louvre – ’nuff said.
12. Pyramide du Louvre — I.M. Pei’s pointy glass peak.
13. Arc-de-Triomphe du Carrousel – The “Mini-Me” of the big Arc de Triomphe.
14. Rue de Rivoli — Colonnade made for promenading à la mode.
15. Comédie-Française — Home to thespians from Molière to Sarah Bernhardt.
16. Rue de la Paix — Priciest address in the French version of Monopoly!
17. Palais Garnier, a.k.a. the “Opéra de Paris’ — Haunt of the Phantom; it sits atop an underground lake.
18. Boulevard Haussmann — Starring grands magasins like Printemps and Galeries-Lafayette decked out in Belle Époque.
19. Gare St-Lazare — Train-station-muse of both Monet and Manet!
20. Place de Clichy — “The Times Square of Paris”.
21. Brasserie Wepler – One of writer Henry Miller’s favorite hangouts.
22. L’Hippodrome — With an indoor horse track it was the largest theater in Europe, now a Castorama hardware store.
23. Cimetière Montmartre — Deathplace of Dalida and Degas.
And finally, at the terminus, the flea markets of Clignancourt! Soothed by all these sights, your junk-searching eyes are ready to roll again. Bon chance!