France is famous for its flea markets. There are no better places to find collectables and the occasional bargain. Whether you are looking for a souvenir, a present to bring back home, or you just want to indulge in the atmosphere, here is a pick of some of the best ones.
Nice you either love or hate, it is that kind of place, but if you find yourself there make sure that you visit the Cours Saleya. The flea market takes place every Monday and you will find around 200 vendors selling a huge range of wares. Being Nice, this is one of the slightly more up-market flea markets but it is none the worse for that. Look out for vintage clothing, ceramics, and silver goods. Many items come for Monaco.
The Villeurbanne flea market which is located in the Lyon suburbs is one of the largest flea markets in the country and it has at least 400 vendors. It is held on Sunday mornings and although there are some permanent stalls many are set up on makeshift tables or displayed on carpets laid out on the ground. This is considerably down market from Nice, but there are some good bargains to be had. There tends to be a focus on agricultural items and furniture, but you will also find wine making, textiles and collectables as well as paintings and books. It is very busy and business is brisk.
The Allées Jules Guesde flea market in Toulouse is held on the first weekend of every month with the exception of October. It opens Friday morning and finishes on Sunday lunchtime. The quality tends to be higher than average and all of the stalls are under canopies. The displays are almost without exception attractive and well laid out. Prices are a little on the high side so don’t expect any real bargains; the vendors know the value of what they are selling. Emphasis is on the rustic though; it is a good place for authentic linens form the region.
The Porte de Vanves flea market in Paris is probably the best one in Paris and one of the best in the country. It is held on almost every Saturday and Sunday and there are around 300 vendors. There are no permanent stores; the majority of vendors lay out their wares on blankets on the ground or use makeshift tables. There is a huge variety of goods on display; much of it is authentic French but look out for cheap imports; there are far too many of them around masquerading as French. The emphasis is on silver, ceramics, collectables, books, vintage clothing and so forth with prices ranging from cheap to not so cheap.
The Boulevard Alexandre Martin flea market in Orléans is held every Saturday morning. You will find some excellent bargains, though as Orléans has many visitors heading for the Loire Valley it can be something of a tourist trap. If you are looking for an antique French fishing rod or wine making equipment, this is where you will find them. There is also an abundance of kitchenware and utensils and good quality local linens. Orleans is very accessible from Paris and a good place for a daytrip out of the city so check out the bus timetables if you are staying in the capital.