Best flea markets of Europe
Some people travel to relax at a beach-side resort, or climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. But consider the world as a series of fabulous flea markets, displaying each culture’s best artifacts. Who needs an ordinary souvenir when you can remember your vacation every time you use your turn-of-the-century French serving bowl or wear those Art Nouveau bracelets, bought for a song in Portugal?
The origin of the term “flea market” is still a mystery, but it is no surprise that the first known references appeared in Paris, France. Paris is huge and there are many flea markets to choose from. If you only have time to visit one, the best of all Parisian flea markets is Marché Aux Puces De Cligancourt. There are 2,500 to 3,000 stalls and shops selling anything from quality antiques to quirky French oddities. This market stretches over 4 square miles of historical neighborhoods and is divided into different sections: Vernaison, Biron, Cambo, Paul-Bert Serpette and Jules- Valles are the most popular. Each section specializes in merchandise that is not sold by the others. Seeing it all can be exhausting, but the area is dotted with cozy cafés when you need a break. Beware of the aggressive hagglers who are peddling knockoff designer goods. Walk a little farther and you will find dealers who sell their wares from permanent stands, tables and stores. This market is open Saturday to Monday.
Located along the Douro River, the Vandoma Flea Market is a must-see in Porto. The market is laid out in Fontainhas, one of the most picturesque and traditional neighborhoods. Porto itself is one of the oldest cities in Europe dating back to the Roman Empire. The Vandoma market is a second-hand-only market where anything and everything goes. Add to that the historical charm of Porto and you never know what treasures might await. On Saturdays from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m., treasure hunters can find items like clothing and accessories, furniture, vinyl record collections, vintage newspapers, old weapons, and jewelry. This flea market is a real paradise for antique lovers and collectors.
If you’re serious about collecting, consider a pilgrimage to the antiques market in the Tuscan city of Arezzo. Held the first Saturday and Sunday of every month, exhibitors from all over Italy offer highquality collectibles that meet the needs of antique buffs and the most demanding collectors. Search for rare pieces such as old books, art deco objects, 19th and 20th century paintings, watches, scientific instruments, archaeological finds, furniture and more, all from qualified exhibitors. With its Roman ruins, medieval walls and Renaissance buildings, the ambience of Arezzo is an added bonus to this extraordinary flea market.
Small or large, old or new, the best flea markets in Europe have a few things in common: a variety of merchandise, accessibility (most are within an hour’s drive of a major city), and a hint of the area’s history. Happy hunting!