Les Puces (flea market) is a great treat to explore and provided me with lots of interior design inspiration.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to explore a Paris Flea market and I was fortunate enough to finally get the chance on a recent holiday. I went prepared to buy, left empty handed but inspired.
Take the metro to Porte de Clingancourt on Saturday, Sunday or Monday to Paris's largest flea market and wear comfortable shoes. It is truly huge. There's a map at the entry gate that gives one an idea of just how large this market is. We were there for several hours and only saw a small part of it. It's the Louvre of flea markets and it can be pretty overwhelming.
We wandered through the antique market (after running the gauntlet of clothing and shoe retailers) and it was a real treat just to see the amazing unique items for sale there. Picture booths of furniture made out of aircraft parts (sorry, I wasn't allowed to photograph that), table after table of bundled antique silverware and eclectic and moody collections of medical equipment and taxidermy.
One of the greatest pleasures was to see how booths had been currated and how collections were displayed.
Parisians don't do things carelessly and every booth was a visual feast. It's really not as easy as you might think to buy there. Prices can be sky high with some very high end shops and funiture pieces in the 10,000+ Euro range, but there are also smaller trinkets that would be fun to bring home and display.
The market made me think about the fundamentals of good display. I love having sentimental items on show in my own home. Shells collected on various beaches are labeled and kept in interesting glass containers. I keep a bird's nest from my grandmother's garden under a glass cloche in my living room. Small paintings and pieces of folk art collected on holidays are clustered to create collections that never fail to cheer me up. Rather than going out to buy mass produced accessories, think about the little collections that you or your children may have built up over the years and find creative ways to group and display them. Personal collections are far more interesting way to turn a house into a home and can make a space feel like is is truly yours. It takes time to decorate this way, but it's worth the wait.