Flea-market Finds Give A Newly Decorated Place Soul
… so designer Emily Henderson said.
People travel for a multitude of reasons. Some want to experience new sights like seeing how far Paris spans from the top of the Eiffel Tower, some want that rush of adrenaline from climbing Mount Everest or diving in Sipadan, some want flavourful explosions in their mouth via exotic cuisines. Then there are some others who want to spend their trips slowly scouring through flea markets, looking for the next best deal on a trinket or piece of furniture to add to their collection at home. Something they can look upon fondly and be reminded of that vacation they went on, something tangible that does not fade with time, the way memories and experiences often do. I myself only learned to appreciate the beauty and thrill of flea market shopping just a few years ago, and with that said, here’s a list of markets I believe everyone should check out at least once in their lives:
#1. Marche aux Puces Saint Ouen de Clignancourt in Paris, France
No list is complete without the mother of all flea markets. Marche aux Puces literally translates to “Market of Fleas”, which is how the term “flea market” was coined as we know it today. This particular market is huge (it contains 14 different markets!), spanning anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 stalls, each selling wares varying from restored furniture to random French knick knacks such as toys, posters and books. Take a stroll, and if you’re tired there’s also plenty of quaint French bistros for you to pop into for a cup of coffee and a small bite.
#2. El Rastro in Madrid, Spain
Known for being incredibly crowded and packed, one good thing about El Rastros is that the stalls are organized by street, so if there’s something in particular you’re looking for, you don’t have to wander through the crowd looking through each stall (unless you want to, of course) – just head right to the street and haggle to your heart’s worth. Yep, did I mention haggling? If there is a market where haggling is the way to go, it is El Rastro. In fact, it is recommended! Lastly, a word of caution: this market is infamous for its’ pickpockets. Finding out your bag has a slit cut in it and your wallet is missing is one of the worst things that could possibly happen on vacation, so be sure to keep your belongings safe and in front of you at all times.
#3. Camden Lock Market in London, UK
It is hard to compile a list of flea markets without including at least one in London. Among the few that I’ve been to, I’ve found the Camden one to be particularly interesting. For the younger ones, this is probably the best market on the list. There is plenty of British-themed stuff for the Anglophiles (it is London, after all – expect lots of Union Jacks), as well as other small eclectic knick knacks such as jewelry and ornaments. If you’re looking for a gift for someone creative and artsy, this is the place for you. On top of that, the market also has tons of variety if you’re looking to sample some street food.
#4. Togo Shrine Flea Market in Tokyo, Japan
Now it’s no secret that Tokyo is a gem of its’ own, with so much to do and see and eat. It’s not surprise that they also have a multitude of flea markets. The Togo Shrine flea market is situated near Harajuku, and boasts stalls selling uniquely Japanese wares, such as early 20th century kimonos, antique Japanese dolls and calligraphy scrolls. All things you simply do not see elsewhere. The fact that it’s near Harajuku is the cherry on top: after you’re done shopping, you are free to head over to take a look at all the Harajuku girls in all their eccentric fashionable glory.
#5. Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market in New York, USA
Now this flea market may not be the biggest, but it is located in what some may consider one of the most exciting and diverse cities in America. The market hosts about 100 or so different vendors, each selling anything from old magazines to antique furniture, vintage fashion to leather trunks. There is something for everyone, and it is not a lie to say that you always leave with something, no matter how small. What’s more, is the fact that you have the rest of New York to explore after you’re done bargain hunting!
With that said, here are some tips when going to flea markets. The first should be obvious: wear comfortable shoes. I cannot stress this enough, especially if you’re on holiday. You’ll be walking all day, and the last thing you want is to have blisters on your feet halfway through the trip. Not to mention the weather is always unpredictable, and you don’t want to get caught in the rain without umbrellas or waterproof gear. My second tip was touched upon earlier: be wary of your belongings. Pickpockets are aplenty, especially in crowded places like flea markets. Be sure to keep your bag in front of you (I know it looks uncool, but it will keep your wallet and important belongings safe), and if possible, keep your money separated in different places as an extra precaution. On that note, my third piece of advice is to definitely bring cash: most vendors will not accept credit card unless it’s a huge purchase. Fourth, is to bring a pad of paper and pen, especially if you are visiting a country where you don’t speak the language. That way it will be much easier for you to bargain and haggle by writing down numbers.
Have you been to any flea markets? What is your favourite thing about markets? Do let us know in the comments below!