Visiting the Marches` aux Puches de Saint Ouen, which is considered the largest antiques market in the world, was one of the highlight of my Parisian travels with Design Trust in September. To visit the Parisian fleas, has been a dream of mine for many years. I must say I wasn't disappointed and would return on a dime, if asked. Steve Nobel, the head of Design Trust and organizer of our trip made sure we didn't miss out on the true market experience. It was a wonderful day spent with good friends, who happen to be designers with an appreciation for antiques and adventure.
"Les Puces" or "The Fleas" as known by the locals is located on the northern edge of Montmartre. I was a little confused about the French fleas,prior to my trip. Fellow designers had attended, but no one had ever really explained the layout to me. I had been online and read about the market, but still didn't quite realize there are actually fifteen individual markets and over three thousand stalls in this half mile radius along the Porte de Clingnancourt metro station. In other words, the market area is massive, which means you'd better know where you are going or be prepared to just wander around and enjoy the day without an agenda. Luckily for us, Steve knew just where to take us. We arrived private bus to Marché Paul Bert. The minute we exited the bus, our group was ready to explore. We were given the lay of the land and
told if any of us decided to strike out on our own we were to meet up at lunch at the Bistro Paul Bert. We began our excursion by meandering in and out of the shops along the street. It was like dipping our toes into the perverbial "market pool of antiques". There was a combinations of street dealers and those with actual stand alone shops. It was intriguing to see what each had to offer. This is an area of fine antiques found on blankets spread on the sidewalk and beautiful trinkets casually thrown in boxes. You keep your eyes peeled because it would be a mistake to overlook anything or anyone. Your perfect treasure could be lurking around the next corner hidden amongst things disguised as attic finds.
It's a place for the person who truly enjoys the "thrill of the the hunt." If you are that kind of person the Paris fleas are utopia. It's really hard to take it all in. I think I could have spent three days just at the fleas, unfortunately our trip only allowed for one day, so we had to shop fast and furiously.
One of the first stops we made was to Quintessence Playground owned by Ludovic Messager. Lucovic's business card listed him as an interior design and antiques dealer, but I would also add artist to the list. His artist ability was evidence around the shop. The shop is a combination of antiques, curiosities and whatnots. As we talked with Ludovic, we learned that he was instrumental in helping Restoration Hardware create the look that has dominated their stores for the past few years. Take a look at my photographs,I think you will see familiar concepts.
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Several of us were coveting the sea fan but
couldn't figure out how to get it home in one piece.`
The showroom is an experimental lab for Ludovic's artistic license. In every corner are collections of interesting items grouped together to create interesting vignettes. Unbelievable light filters through the windows casting perfect shadows for photography. It was such a fun and interesting place to wander around.
Ludovic Messager, owner of Quintessence Playground
Carly Blalock, of Carly and Co from La Jolla, California and I decided to try out the daybed and got caught by the paparazzi!
This was the first shop we visited, before venturing into the stalls and open market, if you are interested in seeing more, I will share the next part of our day next Tuesday, November 19th, I hope you will return for part 2. We ran into a well known designer, bought some interesting wares and had a nice lunch. Can't wait to share more!
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