The best flea markets in Paris - Citimarks

The collector


"A woman in his house? Where would she stay? There is no room for a woman. He only has one armchair to sit in, always the same, at the corner of the fireplace. The rest of the seats, except that one, are only used to store pictures, frames, books. In his old wardrobe, he has barely reserved two shelves for his laundry. The rest are filled with bric-a-brac."
Léo Larguier, Saint-Germain-des-Prés mon village, Paris Plon, 1938
chapter 1

Curious testimonies of the past

“It seems implausible to me”, says Anatole France, “that one can possess a spirit akin to others if brought up on along the riverbanks of Paris, opposite the Louvre and the Tuileries, near the Palais-Mazarin, in view of the glorious Seine river meandering amidst the towers, turrets and spires of Old Paris. From rue Guénégaud to rue du Bac, the shops of bookstores, antique dealers and print merchants generously display the most exquisite forms of art and curious relics of the past.”

“With its peculiar grace and whimsical assortment, each showcase serves as a  seduction for the eyes and spirit. The discerning passerby always departs with some new insight, much like a bird carrying a straw for its nest,” says Anatole France.

The 6th “arrondissement” (i.e. district) is the true haven of a tribe gradually fading away, unimaginable on avenues like Grande-Armée, boulevards like Rochechouart, or streets like La Fayette.

We refer to collectors of books, old paintings and trinkets.

A connoisseur of small boutiques can only live between the Luxembourg gardens and the Seine. Saint-Germain-des-Prés […] is the district where five out of ten ground floors are occupied by antique dealers, bookbinders, and “bouquinistes” (i.e. secondhand booksellers).

Léo Larguier,
Saint-Germain-des-Prés mon village, Paris Plon, 1938.

antique shop storefront
antique shop storefront
antique shop storefront
storefront with candelabra
chapter 2

Uncle Pons, a sweet weirdo

Uncle Pons resides here. A quiet tenant, he doesn’t burden his concierge. She deems him eccentric, a shy and gentle maniac, as she witness him return every evening with a loosely tied package. […]

He exclusively makes purchases from small merchants and modest sales. In his meticulous pursuits, he deflects undue trends, curates series that will outlast him, and eventually possesses neglected yet exquisite jewelry.

With the instinct of wild street dogs tracking poachers, he discerns where the lone hare in the entire region hides. He dictates the terms of engagement; he is not one to buy a pre-assembled collection!

Should you meet him in the street and inquire about the parcel tucked under his arm in an old newspaper, he will blush even behind his ears. A decade later, you wouldn’t secure it for a thousand francs, a purchase he made for a mere hundred pennies! Magazine editors humbly request to photograph his bindings with small emblems and coats of arms -this is a classic character.

One envisions him in an antiquarian apartment overlooking a provincial street like rue Jacob or rue de Verneuil. It’s been years since he could hang anything on his walls; unframed canvases accumulate in every corner, drawers overflow with trinkets, and wallets teem with sketches and prints. Yet, every evening, he returns with a new acquisition. Whatever might stir the people of his generation appears inconsequential to Uncle Pons. He seeks only what others lack.

Léo Larguier,
Saint-Germain-des-Prés mon village, Paris Plon, 1938.

Serge Gainsbourg house

Serge Gainsbourg’s apartment, © Tony Frank, source Milk Decoration.

Serge Gainsbourg house

Gainsbourg loved to display his collections on tables or sofas. © Tony Frank, source Milk Decoration.

Serge Gainsbourg house

Serge Gainsbourg in his residence, rue de Verneuil. Apart from being a talented composer, Gainsbourg was also a fervent art collector. © Tony Frank, source Vogue France.

chapter 3

Aladdin’s cave

A woman in his house? He’d raise his arms in astonishment. Where would she stay? Good Lord, what would he do with her? There is no space for a woman in this house. He only has one armchair, always in the same spot, by the fireplace corner. The rest of the seats, except that one, serve as storage for pictures, frames, and books. In his antique wardrobe, he’s allocated a mere two shelves for his laundry; the remainder is a trove of knick-knacks.

His kitchen resembles the storage room of a second-hand trader. Though he often contemplates organizing the chaos, he quickly realizes it’s an impossible feat. It would require the strength of a Hercules. Every night, before sleeping, he must clear his bed of cardboard, canvases, carved wood and a precarious stack of rare books.

His coat and hat may not be the latest fashion, but he cares little, preferring a gouache to a tie. In his anteroom, an old urn overflows with canes like those owned by neither Brummel, nor any other famous dandy. Some canes boast aventurine and lazulite knobs, vermeil capsules, black silver star enamel balls, and the distinctive C-type handles. Blond tortoiseshell canes are signed Verdier. He leaves them in the urn, and even when the weather is fair, taking his umbrella instead.

Léo Larguier,
Saint-Germain-des-Prés mon village, Paris Plon, 1938.

stack of bottles and dishes in flea market
stack of ashtrays in flea market
stalls of masks in flea market

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