Love the thrill of a hunt? The origins of the French flea market date back more than two centuries, when pêcheurs de lune (or “fishermen of the moon”) used to rummage through trash for items they could sell. Although some got by selling their finds in Paris, many were forced to set up stalls outside of the city limits after being chased out by authorities. In order to trade with one another and attract more buyers, the crocheteurs began setting up in groups, and soon antique dealers and collectors took notice. Eventually, popular hawking areas were designated official antique market spaces, with some even requiring a fee to sell there.
Lucky for us, many of these areas still exist today, but with an estimated 15,000 markets found across France, it can be hard to know which ones are worth your time. Whether you’re a dealer in search of rare collectables, a tourist looking for a unique souvenir, or someone simply looking for a bargain, antique markets in France are well-stocked, full of history and offer an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Read on for six of the best antique markets that France has to offer.
Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, Paris
A more manageable size than Saint-Ouen (but no less in its variety of offerings) is the open-air Porte de Vanves weekend market in Paris. Open early Saturday and Sunday mornings until around 2 p.m, over 400 vendors spread out in stands over two of the city’s major avenues to peddle their wares. On offer? Delicate French linens, antique books, toys and perfume bottles, paintings, ceramics, silverware, crates of vinyl, vintage clothing from the 60s, 70s and even the flapper era… all for a range of prices. Our tip – arrive early! Porte de Vanves is a favorite of antique dealers.
Saturdays & Sundays, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Avenue Marc Sangnier & Avenue Georges Lafenestre, 75014 Paris
Cours Saleya, Nice
For those as interested in people-watching as in securing unique French takeaways, you’ll find Cours Saleya in the heart of the Old Town of Nice to be one of the best antique markets in France. Full of warmth, color and personality, the sunny, striped awning-covered Cours Saleya is actually four different markets in one: a flower market, a fruits and vegetables market, an evening market and an antique/flea market. The latter – referred to as the Marché à la brocante – is open and bustling with over 200 vendors, every Monday. Everything from vintage flatware and glassware, to travel souvenirs, to antique toys, to jewelry and more is available for perusing. Nautical-themed tokens and items from nearby Villauris and Monaco are also commonly found throughout. Known for being a hotspot for collectors from around the world, be ready to compete for your coveted finds! While you’re there, be sure to also swing by the Pierre Gautheir antique market, which is located adjacent. Between these two antique markets, you’ll find a healthy mix of affordable and high-quality options.
Mondays, 7 a.m – 6 p.m. (except for public holidays)
Cours Saleya, 06300 Nice
Marché De La Vieille Ville, Annecy
Nestled on the edge of Lac d’Annecy, the antique market of Annecy’s Vieux Quartier – which has been a place of exchange and trade since the Middle Ages – is renowned for its picturesque location with stunning mountainside views. Open only the last Saturday of each month, this antique market’s offerings have a heavy focus on vintage equipment and kitchenware, rustic, regional goods and local antiques. Think old wooden utensils, skis, snow shoes, cowbells, fishing gear, milk jugs and butter molds and high-quality vintage furniture, such as chests and armoires. A dream for vintage decor lovers!
Sundays, Tuesdays & Fridays (7 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
Rue Sainte Claire, La Vieille Ville, 74000 Annecy
Marché aux Puces, Arles
Experience authentic Provence at the Arles Flea Market. Held on the first Wednesday of every month, the Brocante d’Arles on the beautiful tree-lined Boulevard des Lices is regarded as one of the best antique markets in France for its regional textiles (notably the coveted French lace). Modest in size but abundant in variety, wander through its rows of vintage Arlesian clothing (typically light-colored blouses, black vests, full skirts and jackets), shawls, blankets, drapes and colorful and beaded accessories. Very much in touch with its southern Provençal roots, the market also is known for its local pottery and ceramics, namely santons (figurines in Provençal dress), cigales (“cicadas”) and door handles adorned with images of Camargue bulls, as well as faience, wrought iron goods and antique furniture.
First Wednesday of the month (7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
Boulevard des Lices, 13200 Arles
Les Puces du Canal, Lyon
A bargain hunter’s paradise. Along the Canal de Jonage in Villeurbanne – a town on the outskirts of Lyon – gathers one of the busiest, open-air antique markets in France. Unlike Annecy, Lyon’s antique market is more about what’s on offer than a scenic setting. Arrive early morning and expect to find more than 600 peddlers with charmingly eccentric spreads; their informal set-ups include makeshift tables and goods spread out on blankets. But don’t let this fool you – if you dig around, you’re sure to come across exciting finds. The majority of wares have a strong connection to the area and its historic trades, like tools for making chocolate or wine and spindles for old sewing machines used for textiles. You’ll also find a variety of rustic collectibles in the form of glassware, copper kitchenware, garden accessories and furniture, as well as the general vintage artwork, books and toys.
Thursdays (7 a.m – 1 p.m), Saturdays (9 a.m – 1 p.m), Sundays (7 a.m – 3 p.m)
5 Rue Eugène Pottier, 69100 Villeurbanne
Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris
A central place to browse everything from rare antique furnishings and knick knacks to second-hand, time-worn trinkets. Without a doubt one of the most popular and biggest antique markets in France is the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, which welcomes over 3,000 vendors and up to 180,000 attendees every weekend. In what began in 1885 as a “shanty-town” on the city’s outskirts is now a very civil market. Akin to an organized village, it consists of a mix of covered stalls, open-air stands and enclosed boutiques and shops. With prices ranging from sky-high to steal, there’s something for everyone.
Fridays (8 a.m to 12 p.m.), Saturdays (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) & Sundays (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
142 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen
Want to learn how to antique while discovering France and meeting those who share your brocante passion? Consider attending our annual My French Country Home Brocante Tour! Learn more about it HERE.