Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is the biggest and best flea market I’ve ever visited. It’s located to the north, just outside of Paris. I took metro line 4 and disembarked at Porte de Clignancourt, meeting my guide and the other four members of our group just above ground. Mariana Diamantino, host of Parisian Flea Market Experience, is an expert at uncovering vintage finds. Initially, I’d considered exploring the market on my own, but I later realized that would have been a mistake.
Although my French is good enough to garner compliments, being accompanied by a French speaker was essential in this instance. Mariana was able to negotiate prices on my behalf; I’m not skilled at doing this in English, so I don’t think I’d be successful at it in French.
I don’t usually strike gold on thrifting trips, but I did on this occasion. Our last stop was what Mariana fondly calls the “down and dirty.” This is where the best bargains are found. Acquiring them requires searching through piles of clothes and boxes of accessories. I uncovered a navy trench coat and two sweaters at a stall. Actually, Mariana may have spotted the trench coat.
The vendor asked for 35€ for all three items, but Mariana was able to negotiate the amount I was able to pay, which was about 32€. Like most vendors, he didn’t accept credit card. Not only was I glad to have Mariana by my side to negotiate but also as a friend when the conversation with the vendor turned a little inappropriate. Some things were said in reference to all Americans supposedly being rich. I learned afterward that it is common for vendors to hike their prices for US visitors.
I highly recommend Mariana’s experience. Other tips: bring cash and a lightweight, foldable tote, secure your belongings, let any negative comments roll off your shoulders, and don’t engage with the men selling cigarettes by the Porte de Clignancourt metro stop or AirPods under the Périph.