DESTINATION • September 2019
Whether you’re looking for vintage threads and quirky keepsakes, or simply want to experience a city like the locals, strolling around a flea market provides a sensory overload. Fashion writer Johanna Payton checks out six of the funkiest flea markets around the world
A world-famous flea market – and one of the biggest – Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen hosts around 1,700 traders and is spread across stalls, warehouses and submarkets in the 18th arrondissement. Known to locals as Les Puces (The Fleas), it’s so big that it’s almost like a city in itself. The market is open every weekend and you can buy everything from antique glassware and paintings to toys, fashion and vintage vinyl. If your French is up to the task, the best bargains can be acquired after a haggle, and there are plenty of spots for coffee and people watching once you’re all shopped out.
Saturday is the best day to take the Tube to Notting Hill Gate and stroll down the length of Portobello Road for one of London’s coolest street market experiences. Visit antique traders at the southern end, shop for food and household goods in the middle and finish your trip at Golborne Road, where you’ll find a rather random selection of furniture and bric-a-brac. Fashionistas might linger in the centre of the market, around Portobello Green, where there’s a good chance you’ll come across stunning, one-of-a-kind designer vintage bargains.
A huge flea market in NYC, Grand Bazaar not only attracts the city’s hipsters, it also benefits local artisans and gives a share of its profits to four local schools. It takes place every Sunday on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and you’ll find a quirky mix of antiques and collectibles, plus a delicious range of artisanal street food. A particularly great flea market for jewellery lovers, Grand Bazaar also hosts themed events throughout the year, including a handmade collective pop-up in September and, for second-hand fashion fans, a grand vintage bazaar in October.
Sunday mornings in Kuala Lumpur are that much more exciting if you take a trip to the unassuming Petaling Jaya shopping centre, Amcorp Mall. At the weekend, the mall is transformed into a huge flea market where more than 300 stalls sell toys, antiques and other collectibles, including rare figurines, vintage cameras, movie posters and old records. Bartering is commonplace, so you’ll have a good chance of picking up a bargain, and there are plenty of cafés and restaurants in the mall if you need a break from treasure hunting. The flea market runs across the weekend, but there are more stalls on a Sunday.
One of the biggest and most popular flea markets in Spain, taking place every Sunday and on public holidays, Madrid’s El Rastro is a culinary, as well as retail, experience. After you’ve exhausted the main street of market stalls, mainly featuring clothes, explore the side streets to hunt down antique treasures, including furniture and jewellery, as well as kitchen utensils, comics, second-hand books and paintings. Then it’s time to hit the tapas bars around the market for local specialities, including grilled sardines, before following the locals to the numerous bars and taverns of La Latina.
The oldest flea market in the Netherlands, Waterlooplein is open from Monday to Saturday in Amsterdam’s central Waterloo Square. Dating back to 1885, it offers an eclectic mix of clothes, leather goods and curiosities; it’s also a great place to pick up a second-hand bike. Close to the river Amstel, the market is surrounded by museums and cafés, so wandering around the plentiful Waterlooplein stalls can actually provide respite from the hustle and bustle of De Wallen and Jordaan.