Style & Shopping Features & Interviews

How to Navigate French Flea Markets Like a Local

French fashion icon Ines de la Fressange shares her secrets, plus a few style rules to live by

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Model, author, and designer Ines de la Fressange mastered the effortlessly chic look long ago, and now she’s created a step-by-step guide to help the rest of us. Her Parisian Chic Lookbook, out last month from Flammarion, details the building blocks one needs to create the essential Parisian wardrobe. The longtime fashion model and muse for Chanel created a helpful checklist and dozens of looks that mix and match the items to master a look for every occasion.

We chatted with the curious shopper and expert stylist—who designed a spring/summer line for Uniqlo—to get her style rules and favorite Paris spots, as well as her tips for navigating flea markets to find the best of the best.

What’s Parisian style like today?

It’s, in a way, mixing things—brands and cheap, new and vintage, sophisticated and casual—but also taking things off; not to be minimalist, but more simple.

What’s your mindset when you’re vintage shopping?

The best thing is not to look for anything specifically. Stay always curious without prejudice. I found a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg dress for 20 Euros in Montpellier in a tiny sloppy shop where everything else was awful.

What are your favorite flea markets in Paris?

I usually go to markets at Porte de Clignancourt in St. Ouen, on the outskirts of the city in the 18th Arrondissement, where I like the Marché Serpette, Paul Bert, or Jules Vallès, and I always find something at Chez Sarah. She has a huge range of clothes—sometimes they could be in a museum—and it’s more or less always affordable. She knows the history of fashion perfectly and sells only what she likes. In Paris, you can find great things at Thanx God I’m a V.I.P., a vintage store located at 12 Rue de Lancry.

What are the best pieces to look for and where do you find them?

I often buy antique white men’s cotton shirts and workers’ blue jackets in antique markets in South of France like in Isle sur la Sorgue or Villeneuve les Avignon. They are beautiful bleached, but you can find them new online. I love things that have been darned, old fabrics like hemp, and prints from the 1940s.

In Paris, I love Kiliwatch at 64 Rue Tiquetonne for vintage clothes, and the best place for accessories is Les Trois Marches de Catherine B at 1 Rue Guisarde. For designer brands and accessories, Didier Ludot at 24 Galerie Montpensier along the Palais-Royal Gardens.

How do you haggle successfully?

Sellers want to sell, and they are not usually thieves. There is always a way to bargain for a lower price; just ask politely, ‘is that your final price?’ Also, if it’s not expensive, paying cash can help you get a better price; they don’t want to pay the credit card fees so they prefer to offer a small discount. Remember, they want you to come back and to send your friends. Trust them. Also, if you really love something, you know the value. If you love it: There is no price. If it’s not expensive, and you just love it, buy it. Avoid buying vintage Hermès bags or Chanel in unknown places.

What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received?

Do not put more than three colors together, unless you are going for a gypsy or folksy look.

What are your style rules do you live by?

1. I try not to be a fashion victim. 2. I wouldn’t wear something with a huge logo. 3. I don’t put anything on thinking it will make me look younger. 4. I don’t try to be sexy, but I like sensual fabrics. 5. I wouldn’t wear sandals when it’s raining.

Read more:

8 Places to Visit if You Want to Experience the New Paris City Guide: With Love, From Paris The Designer Behind Ever After Press Opens Up Her Parisian Apartment