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Flea Markets of London and Paris

One story has it that flea markets began in Paris in 1890 when sanitation laws prevented vendors from selling items likely to contain vermin within city limits. As such, so-called ragpickers were forced to move their business to the meadowland at the outskirts of the city where the present day Le Marché aux Puces St-Ouen still operates.History aside, it's safe to assume that the risk of bringing home fleas in your present day rock n' roll sofa are pretty low. And that means you are now free to concentrate on what really matters about flea markets-namely, that they are a lot of fun, particularly for the world traveler. You don't want to return home from your travels bearing gifts from the Hard Rock Café, do you? No, you want to present your nearest and dearest with that one-of-a-kind item-a stamp collection from Athens .

a vintage chess set from Moscow.$2 pearl earrings from China. During your travels, you'll enjoy soaking up the local color that only a community flea market can offer and may you come home a seasoned haggler?with lots of cool stuff!.1. London's best bargains and a laugh Located in what used to be a timber yard, Camden Lock, (Camden Town or Chalk Farm tube stations) is London's largest flea market. It's also one of the cheapest and caters to a young, hip crowd of customers as well as a vital group of entrepreneurs and artists.

Artists here work and sell from their own onsite studios and, in many cases, customers may watch artisans crafting the very items that are offered for sale. Alternative health practitioners abound here, offering everything from reflexology and Tui-Na to Shiatsu and mineral analysis. For a special treat, shop late on a Friday or Saturday and check out the stand-up comedy night at Jongleurs in the middle yard.2. Petticoat Lane-noisy, vibrant and lots of fun A particular vendor at the Petticoat Lane Flea Market, (Aldgate or Aldgate East tube, Middlesex Street; Sundays only), has been known to display a sign advertising his business as "the only stall in London licensed by Scotland Yard to sell stolen goods". Whether this is a dose of cockney humor or not, it sets the tone for this jovial place, as much street fair as flea market.

If you're looking for high tea, you'll be better off heading to Harrods because this place is noisy, vibrant and a good deal of fun. Prepare for a good-natured haggle as you eye antiques, jewelry, factory seconds, bric-a-brac and the like. You can also find some pretty tasty nosh around these parts.

Even if you come home empty-handed, you'll have had a great day out.3. London's lowest risk antiques hunting Portobello Road Market, (Ladbroke Grove or Nottinghill Gate tube) has been going strong for some 300 years. Long before the area was featured in Notting Hill, this market was widely recognized as a reputable source for second-hand goods and antiques.

What's more, it is regulated by the Portobello Antiques Dealers Association (PADA). As such, all vendors must abide by a code of ethics-kind of comforting for those of us who know nothing about antiques. If you're not looking to buy a vintage sideboard or grandfather clock, head down for the street entertainers, laidback Rasta dudes, great neighborhood pubs and excellent food stalls.

This place vibrates.4. London's crème de la crème of Flea Markets On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Camden Passage, (Angel Street tube) which is not to be confused with Camden Lock, hosts an early morning flea market (7 a.m.

to 2 p.m.). This market specializes in rather high-end items, so you may want to tone down the haggle-speak. The decorative and Victorian antiques you'll find here are of exceptional quality. This may be the only flea market in town where you'll be addressed as "sir" or "madam".

5. Paris' dizzying best - the largest flea market in Europe You may not find the deals you once would at Le Marché aux Puces St-Ouen, (Métro: Porte de Clignancourt), but this renowned flea market still offers some amazing finds. For more than 100 years, this square-mile maze of alleyways has housed a wide variety of vendors, from antiques and second-hand clothing dealers to junky household appliance and bric-a-brac hawkers. What you find to be a bargain is largely to do with personal taste as well as endurance; there is a lot of stuff to pick through and, as the saying goes, "one man's junk". It's best to pace yourself here-take frequent breaks at the numerous hole-in-the-wall cafés in the area. This place is open Saturday through Monday.

6. Paris: Raiding your French grandma's attic Perhaps the most authentic of Paris' flea markets, Le Jules Vallès, 7 rue Jules Vallès, has the feel of a grandma's attic. A somewhat haphazard array of dusty collectibles fills these two covered aisles: military uniforms, antique weapons, posters, books, bronze statues, china dolls, as well as fascinating memorabilia. Unfortunately, only trade professionals can gain access to these 120 stalls during the week.

However, a scaled-down version of the market is open to the public on the weekends.7. Paris' trendiest flea market When Alain Serpette, the son of a flea market stallholder, bought up a former Citroen garage, he probably had no idea how trendy the address would become among Paris' high society. These days, Le Marché Serpette, 110. rue des Rosiers, is the place to go for fashionable goods and art nouveau, among other specialties.

While this is not a bargain hunter's dream, the quality of the merchandise here is unparalleled. Note: Fellow shoppers are likely to be blessed with keen eyes-act quickly.

.Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Travel.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.



By: Michael Russell

Paris Travel

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