One of the things I most look forward to in an unfamiliar city is getting to know it through its flea markets. There’s something so thrilling about weaving through a warren of alleyways, colliding with history, jostling past locals, and sifting through a bounty of treasures.
Paris’ flea markets, for many years, have held a special appeal, and I’ve been waiting for my chance to visit. This summer I was finally lucky enough to go to Le Marchè de Vernaison in Paris’ 18th Arrondissement on a Food52 sourcing trip—yes, yes, one of the great perks of my job as a buyer.
While some people extol the virtues of wandering through a flea market without a plan, I always have a plan. I meticulously map my way through the aisles, intentional about every lane I patrol, and strategically plot my way through every (yes, every) single booth. Pro tip: Never skip the very first aisle as these are often the longest-standing vendors. Once I spot a really good one, I let myself get lost: in the piles of linens, stacks of dinner plates, and drawers of old hardware.
While I certainly didn’t come home empty-handed, I’m still thinking of all the things I didn’t bring back with me. Did I actually consider shipping a 1960s rattan-and-oak dining chair set to my Brooklyn apartment? Guilty. And the vintage gingham picnic basket complete with porcelain plates? Most definitely my summer spirit animal.
So here’s a look at all my favorite finds that didn’t make it back home with me, but also, lucky for you, a peek at some amazing vintage buys that are just a couple clicks away.
This vintage set was hand-picked from the French countryside, and is exactly the kind of flatware that takes your holiday table up a notch (or many). I love to mix this kind of thing with more modern linen napkins and airy botanical dinnerware.
Late 19th-Century Copper pots and saucepans likely used to cook beurre blanc butter sauce. Think of all the stories these pots would tell hanging in my kitchen.
My heart skipped a beat when I stumbled upon Jacques and Jules’ shop. It was tiny, but bursting at the seams with French country charm by way of these transferware treasures. In the technique called “transferware,” a botanical or floral print is delicately transferred from a metal plate to a sheet of paper and then onto the ceramic. Transferware has gone from being a more affordable alternative to hand-painted dinner sets in the mid-1700s, to being super covetable today.
The woodwork and hand carving detail on these dining chairs from the 1800s were truly spectacular. Not only is cane having a major moment in interiors right now, but black lacquer finish feels really fresh when paired with a round dining table.
My heart skipped a beat when I came across this perfect rattan picnic basket complete with wine glasses, vintage French flatware, and floral plates, all nestled against a classic gingham fabric. Tell me you don’t immediately imagine yourself toting this to a picnic in the park.
In the deepest corner of the market, I stumbled upon this wildly beautiful bed. This 400-year-old masterpiece was upholstered—pillows, headboards, curtains and all—in an antique French blue toile adorned with birds and branches. I can only imagine a movie stylist picking this up for the next Saoirse Ronan period film.
Does table linen get any better than hand-embroidered indigo napkins? Want to take that up a notch and have them monogrammed? Come right this way.
Its neutral earthy tones make this French country still life feel modern, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that I could see in a Brooklyn-meets-Catskills weekend home. Do I currently own a house upstate? No. But until I do, it would also fit nicely in my 2’x6’ entryway.
I know, I know, the whole rattan and blonde wood chair trend is everywhere. However, the structure and clean lines of this silhouette combined with the light oak wood and rattan makes the combo feel fresh and modern. Plus these chairs were so comfortable.
My apartment deserves the upgrade that this vintage French brass hardware would give it. Plus, this could have fit in my suitcase. Paris, I’m coming back for ya.