A Design Lover’s Field Guide to Saint-Ouen, Paris’s Vintage Paradise
Your road map to serious antiquing.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 9:03 PM
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There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a new city, but when you only have days (or hours) to explore, it helps to have a curated list from travelers you trust. That’s where Domino’s Field Guide comes in. Compiled by editors and design-minded locals around the globe, consider this a need-to-know edit of the coolest bars, hotels, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques in the top design cities. Next up: Paris.
To the average traveler, Saint-Ouen is a little-known neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris, and visiting it may raise an eyebrow or two. But for design lovers the world over, it’s the holy grail of vintage shopping. In fact, to antiquing enthusiasts, Les Puces, as the Paris flea market is affectionately known, is a pilgrimage of sorts.
Endless winding alleys are lined with oil paintings, antique books, rugs, ceramics, and lamps. The items range from highly pedigreed to secondhand treasures (and everything in between). “Saint-Ouen is a place unlike any other in France,” says Cyril Aouizerate, owner of the local Mob Hotel, which has two new locations opening in Saint-Ouen and Washington, D.C. “It’s a world-renowned place thanks to the Marché aux Puces, which remains one of the biggest in the world. This alchemy has made Saint-Ouen a cultural, social, and economic patchwork of excitement and stimulation for the senses.” Staying in Saint-Ouen is not a prerequisite to visiting the flea market, as the metro will take you there in under 40 minutes from the 1st Arrondissement.
But for true enthusiasts, a weekend spent in the area (the flea market is open Saturday to Monday) is not nearly long enough. Besides, the neighborhood is filled with hidden gems to explore beyond the alleys lined with vintage shops and antiques galleries. If you visit, you’ll undoubtedly want to stay a while. Ahead, we asked Aouizerate to share, in his own words, his favorite local spots and must-hit addresses in Saint-Ouen.
Where to Eat
Yaya: For a glimpse into the everyday life of Saint-Ouen (and for lovers of Greek cuisine), I highly recommend Yaya. The restaurant is located in an old industrial hall and bakes the most delicious homemade bread. 8 Rue de l’Hippodrome
Les Gastropodes: Slow food meets modern market bistro at Les Gastropodes; order and pay at the counter and then grab a spot wherever you can (there’s also a terrace). The fish-and-chips is super-crispy and a bit of a classic. 140 Rue des Rosiers
Chez Louisette: Accordion-fueled French chanson is the soundtrack to the fiercely nostalgic but very fun guinguette Chez Louisette, where Edith Piaf sang in the ’30s. Stick to the traditional fare and order the beef bourguignon. 136 Avenue Michelet
Le Mékong: While Cambodian cuisine is probably not your first food thought while exploring the nooks and crannies of Paris’s flea market, Le Mékong is a gem of a spot. I recommend going with a group and indulging in the restaurant’s satay fondue, or trying out one of the traditional fish-based dishes served on a big banana leaf with coconut cream. 2 Rue Édouard Vaillant
La Recyclerie: This all-things-eco warehouse is a one-stop shop. Enjoy a vegetarian brunch at the sprawling café-canteen of La Recyclerie while you have your bike fixed on-site, then go shopping for artisanal housewares, followed by a stroll among the community gardens. 83 Boulevard Ornano
Where to Shop
Sounds Good: For music lovers, I highly recommend a stop at Sounds Good. This place is known to the greatest stars in the world, who visit to find the most unique and obscure music items, vintage hi-fis, and rock culture memorabilia. Marché Dauphine, Stand 28
Maxime de Laurentis: This is a super-cool vintage fashion boutique. Archive pieces from avant-garde designers (Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamoto) can be found at Maxime de Laurentis, as well as furniture from the ’60s to the ’80s. Marché Paul Bert Serpette, Allée 1, Stands 112, 114
Pheromones: At Pheromones, Joseph Daaboul combines the 18th and 19th centuries with mid-century modern: mercury mirrors, ceramics from the ’50s and ’60s, display cases, and a gothic atmosphere all intertwine here. Marché Paul Bert Serpette, Allée 1, Stands 116, 118, 120, and 122
Virginie Chorro and Merry Liuzzo: For lovers of unique clothing, including theatrical costumes and incredible accessories perfect for small gifts to bring home, I highly recommend Virginie and Merry. Marché Paul Bert Serpette, Allée 4, Stands 152, 154, 156
Remix Gallery: Valerie & Antoine of Remix Gallery specialize in radical design from the ’80s, and in particular the work of Philippe Starck from that time period. Marché Paul Bert Serpette, Allée 6, Stand 91
Chez Sarah: If you’re on the hunt for antique and vintage garments, accessories, fabric, and embroidery, look no further than Chez Sarah. Le Passage Lecuyer Vallès, 18 Rue Jules Vallès
Droguerie Dugay: For DIYers of all kinds, Droguerie Dugay is an institution. In this drugstore, you’ll find various old products that will give new life to your leathers and wood furniture. 92 Rue des Rosiers
Where to Stay
Mob Hotel: Located only steps away from the flea market, Mob Hotel Paris Les Puces gives guests an opportunity to feel the warmth of the Saint-Ouen neighborhood by diving straight into its cultural dynamic. With a constant rotation of on-site activities, ranging from meditation and cookery to dance workshops and film screenings, the hotel aims to create a dialogue between locals and visitors. Its restaurant serves only organic food and beverages, and the Mediterranean-inspired menu is both tasty and simple. Gardens and open terraces scattered throughout the property provide a calming oasis among the bustling city life. 6 Rue Gambetta
In a Nutshell
Wake up at the Mob to the sounds of singing birds and have breakfast on the terrace, overlooking the church of Saint-Ouen’s steeple. Quickly dress and get lost in the magnitude of the flea market in search of the mythical “hidden treasure” that’s often not worth more than 10 euros.
Then pick up a cheap Parisian sandwich and a chocolate éclair at one of the many bakeries (plus a bottle of wine, of course) and stop by the Grand Parc des Docks, a waterfront park surrounded by vegetable gardens. Take a nap in the grass (it’s very important to take a nap).
Next, return, calm and collected, to the hotel for a quick shower and a drink, and head out to discover the restaurant Ma Cocotte for a chic French dinner of delicious rotisserie chicken. Finally, get ready for a show at Espace 1789, a performing arts center that has long been the mecca of counterculture in Saint-Ouen.
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