The Paris flea markets are famous, but not cheap. A trip to the popular Porte de St. Ouen marché aux puces in the north central tip of the city—usually referred to as Clignancourt—is enjoyable for browsing art deco antiques and costume jewelry. The prices are more reasonable, though, at the Porte de Vanves market on the Left Bank.
The hardcore, Parisian discount fanatic prefers to spend his or her euros at brocantes (swap meets) and vide-greniers (attic sales), which are so common in summer that it's hard not to stumble upon one. True, the wares there will be less pedigree, but one man's castoff is another man's treasure. Items such as pre-war cookie tins and souvenir postcard sets are more culturally novel to visitors than they are to the French people who grew up with them—and they sell for beans at the Marché d'Aligre, the most atmospheric of the city's weekend swap meets.
Porte de St. Ouen (les-puces.com)
Marché d'Aligre (marchedaligre.free.fr)
—Laurie Pike, for our Affordable Europe series.
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