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One of my passions is travelling to antique markets and shops to hunt for exciting or vintage pieces. This is why visiting the St. Ouen Flea Market in Paris was high on my list of sightseeing priorities. A quick subway ride outside of the core of Paris and you have entered every collector’s dream. Finding the old and the rare is something you can expect while taking a stroll through the winding alleyways of this market.
The first interesting aspect of the market is the way it is set up. Every vendor is allotted a space, approximately 15’ x 20’, which each transforms into a vignette that represents the style of their product, and perhaps even more so, themselves. The people who put their heart and soul into finding these items take pride in showcasing them. Some of the spaces are clearly staged and stylized while others are thrown together in haphazard manners that have a stylized uniqueness of their own. Either way, you get completely lost in the visual amusement of these booths. Each has their own unique ambience which contributes to the overall whimsical feel of the market itself.
The styles of these items range from extremely ornate Rococo pieces to mid-century modern teak furniture and old school house chairs.
First time buyers just discovering the world of antiques and vintage finds can ease their way in by purchasing small items such as glass jars and bottles, costume jewellery, old keys, hinges and hardware. The seasoned collector can find larger scale and big ticket items such as vintage designer pieces, mirrors, artwork and upholstered and solid wood furniture.
Scattered among the practical pieces, one can find decorative and eccentric items which add an element of interest and fantasy to any space.
Wall mounted antlers would add the perfect amount of punch in an otherwise simple room. A gilded framed mirror would make a great statement piece in a foyer, bedroom or dressing room. One of my favourite finds was the painted stacking school chairs. They sold for 25 euros each (roughly $33). With a little imagination these chairs could be used to brighten up a casual kitchen or used in a creative office boardroom.
Do not be discouraged if you have a passion for antique markets and cannot make it to Paris anytime soon. While we may not have the size of the antique market in Paris, there are an abundance of antique shops in Toronto and the surrounding areas (for example in the Junction or Parkdale) that are run by equally creative dealers. Take the opportunity to explore the city and discover your love for antique and unusual vintage items.
Tara Dalla-Nora has a B.A. in interior design and is the owner and principal designer of Inner Luxe in Toronto’s Bloor West Village.