Laurie Furber has what might be the ideal job: going to France to source antiques and vintage finds for her Bay Area–based shop Elsie Green. When we asked her where she eats and sleeps when she’s on a sourcing trip in Lyon, her answers singlehandedly moved the city to the top of our must-visit list. (See Expert Advice: Lyon Travel Guide, Design Edition.) This year we circled back with Laurie to ask her for her off-the-beaten-path picks in the French capital—specifically, where to score Parisian antiques, high-end castoffs, and curiosities. Here’s her insider’s guide to shopping in Paris, from a luxe shoppable apartment to the best places to score secondhand finds.
The Flea Market
- The one flea market not to miss: “Puces de Saint Ouen is the big Paris flea market you typically see in movies and magazines when people refer to the Paris Flea Market. It is at the Porte de Clignancourt metro stop, so sometimes it’s referred to as Clignancourt,” Laurie says. “It is a great place to start your journey, as it’s out of the city center, and we use it more for inspiration than actual purchasing. You can spot a beautiful wall of vintage Louis Philippe mirrors in a stall, then create a collection from other sources around Paris or the countryside.”
The Street Market
- “Porte de Vanves is a smaller street market and great for small things you can tuck into your suitcase like French flatware, books, or works of art.”
The Bric-a-Brac Shop
- “Tombées du Camion [translates to ‘fallen off the truck’] is packed to the rafters with tiny treasures. Amongst dolls’ heads and mechanical parts, you’ll find rolls of vintage twine, beautiful glass bottles, books, photographs, all kinds of treasures.”
The Shoppable Apartment
- “Pop into Sézane L’Appartement to see vintage French finds used in the chicest of ways,” and shop the fashion line’s collections of bedding, tableware, and housewares.
The Flower Shop
- “Peonies, a combination coffee and flower shop, has a punchy color palette, and a nice selection of coffee and pastries to get your day started on a high note,” says Laurie. Take home a small paper-wrapped bouquet (and read more in our post on Gardenista: Shopper’s Diary: Peonies in Paris, for Flowers and Coffee).
The DIY Emporium
- “UltraMod is an old-school mercerie shop with rows and rows of ribbons, buttons, and tassels.”
The Secondhand Shop
- “Emmaus is the French version of Goodwill or Salvation Army. Imagine all the beautiful castoffs from Parisian homes all in one place. We particularly love the very large Emmaus in the 19th Arrondissement called Bric-a-Brac Riquet.” Another favorite: “Chercheminippes is a series of vintage shops in Saint-Germain-de-Prés, each with a different specialty;” the one on Rue du Cherche-Midi carries housewares. “Each shop is a treasure trove, so settle in and enjoy the hunt,” Furber says.
More Insider Tips
- “There are flea markets and such popping up in Paris all the time, so I always consult the guide Vide Greniers for events happening as I’m traveling.”
- “Look for the words dépot-vente, bric-a-brac, or troc in the names of the shops as you’re walking. Those are the little thrift shops, charity stores, and warehouses that you want to duck into.”
- “You may walk into a shop and think ‘what a bunch of junk.’ But look at it as a chance to hone your editor’s eye. I have found some real treasures in shops like that. Just take your time, walk from front to back, and you just may find the thing you didn’t know you needed until you saw it.”
More expert guides to Paris: