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The biggest of Paris' three main flea markets, St-Ouen sprawls between Porte de St-Ouen and Porte de Clignancourt and is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. It sells a little bit of everything from second-hand to new clothes, from any bit of junk the sellers can find to antiques, old tin baths, and office chairs or old radios - anything you think you might want or need can be found here.
How to get there
The market is at the northern edge of the 18th arrondissement, on the outer side of the Périphérique Nord. If you get off at the métro Porte de St-Ouen and head north you will find yourself walking through the unofficial stalls that line the streets. These sell normal things that you can find in any market, such as hair trinkets, clothes and household goods; the real treasures are up ahead, once you have passed under the overpass.
The 'puces de St-Ouen' gets its name from the state of the clothes, second-hand mattresses and other junk sold when the market operated outside the city walls; puces meaning 'fleas'.
There are 12 markets inside the limits of St-Ouen, selling mainly furniture and clothes, but if you look closely, you can find almost anything here. On a recent visit this Researcher found traffic lights, pub signs, old fountains, bars, and had a great time rummaging through the statues and old office equipment.
It is worth walking round as much of the market as you can to find any bits that might grab your attention; there is something here for everyone. There are second-hand book stalls that offer a huge range of books, with English books in their own section, so it is worth browsing even if you do not speak French. Second-hand Levi jeans also seem to take up much of the market space. Some seem to be seconds, and all are laid out in size order. If you know your size, you can pick out something in reasonable condition very quickly for less than half price of a new pair, especially the designer types.
Haggling is still the way to get the best prices, in the same way as it was in the 19th Century when the first rag-and-bone men arrived to get what they could for their goods. Be aware that the prices are higher on sunny days when the market is crowded, and lower when it is cold and wet. It might be worth putting up with the rain to get that bargain as cheaply as possible.
It can get very busy at weekends here, with as many as 150,000 traders, tourists and bargain hunters jammed into the narrow passageways. Sunday afternoons are the busiest, with pickpockets mingling with the crowd. On Mondays, many of the stalls are closed.