The flea market in Saint-Ouen, sometimes referred to as « biggest in the world », is a very special place that you cannot miss when visiting Paris. Not only it is enormous but it is also a fantastic mix of different types of markets, people and atmospheres. Best is to start your visit at the Porte de Clignancourt metro station. You will head north and cross path with many sellers and gamblers on the run. Be smart there, cameras are not welcomed so if you are going to shoot, do it extremely discreetly. You will then go through a first market which is typical French small town but don’t spend too much time there, not of much interest. Go on your way under the bridge, you will then be entering the flea market and his many worlds. It is better to inform yourself and get a map because it is so big and intricate that you would miss a lot of hidden places if you just strolled without an itinerary. Nevertheless, to give you some hints, here are the main areas to discover while there :
– What I would call the « R’n’B market ». Selling mainly clothing and electronics. Lot’s of young kids gangs wandering at the sound of R’n’B and Hip Hop music. Colorful and multi-ethnic.
– antique shops warehouses. These are huge building full of shops, great spots to play with the architectural structures and light.
– Vernaison market. A labyrinth of tiny old houses where you’ll find the spirit of the initial flea market. Absolutely gorgeous and great for pictures.
– Restaurant and terraces. There is nothing better than a lunch at the flea market on a sunny day. You’ll be able to blend customers with antique shops in the background for pictures full of atmosphere.
Pictures type : Antique shops, crowd, terraces, multi-ethnicity, markets
Your best lens : 35mm
Favorite spot : Marché Vernaison
When to go : Weekends, closed most of the week.
Must go : Have lunch in one of the restaurants featuring live bands.
Metro Station : Porte de Clignancourt
Sample shots (click on pictures to enlarge)