Steve and I went to the Paris Flea Market today. I have always heard about it, and know some folks who have made antique buying trips here, but have never been. It’s billed as the largest antiques market in the world and it did not disappoint. The market is actually in Saint-Ouen, which is north of the center of Paris. We took the Metro up there and walked around for quite a while, though I’m sure we didn’t cover all of it.

There are actual antique stores, malls and stalls, which buy and sell all types of furniture, housewares, kitchenware, fixtures, artwork and other decorative items for homes and offices, as well as some vintage clothing. We saw a bateau-load of mid-century modern furniture, much of it upholstered in what looked like white shag carpeting. I have never seen so many Jetsons-style chairs covered in so much white fur and fuzzy polyester. I can’t decide if the flea market is so lousy with it because everyone wants it or no one wants it. (See what I did there?) My son’s generation seems to have an unholy appreciation for the 1970s aesthetic, so perhaps Gen Z is buying these pieces? What is going on?

Many of the indoor and covered showrooms were quite elegant, and appeared to be run by legit and serious dealers. They offered beautiful antique and modern furniture and fixtures that were in excellent shape, plus what looked to my untrained eye like museum-quality artwork. Some places were jumbled, overstuffed messes, staffed by bored French Boomers in bad clothes and stocked with some truly tacky sh*t that is, despite residing in a market, almost certainly unmarketable. Then there was the vast in-between, with lots of decent but unremarkable goods and a fair amount of kitsch (by which I mean stuff that is off-beat and kinda fun, but that you would never put in your house). It was a scene, man.

Beyond that, there were booths and tables and tents offering every single consumer good other than automobiles that has ever existed in the universe. Truly. We saw gigantic sculptures of wild animals, tiny photos and postcards, at least a million books, record albums, cleaning supplies, clothes and shoes, tools, toys, hardware, first-gen computers, all manner of electronic devices, washing machines, jewelry, guns and swords, police hats and military helmets, fur coats, paintings and empty frames, giant urns and planters and more china, silver and crystal than the biggest department store you can imagine.

The juxtaposition of luxury, mass-market and downright junk was fascinating, as was the sheer scale of the whole shebang. It was like a small city, where everything is on sale. Since I have no house, I wasn’t shopping, so I didn’t bother to ask about prices. I did read that you can buy items ranging in price from less than a euro to over a million large. I think the flea market is as big a treat for the eyes as the gastronomy here is for the taste buds, and that is saying something! I wished I could teleport my friend, Lori T., here today because she is the consummate antique store shopper and would have been all up in it. I’m going back as soon as I win the lottery.