If you follow my exploits on instagram you may know that I just returned from a buying trip in Paris. There is so much to see and do in Paris, but in my opinion, a perfect day in Paris is spent shopping the markets and street fairs or at the Puces scouring for antiques, artifacts, accessories, art, and other fabulous finds.
A few years ago, while at the Design Blogger’s Conference, I was fortunate enough to win a buying trip to Paris with the ladies who own Huff Harrington in Atlanta, Georgia, Meg Harrington and Ann Huff. What a surprise for me to win such a fabulous trip! I had no idea the treat that was in store for me with these amazing ladies on our adventures in Paris!
When I tell you that the trip to Paris with Meg and Ann was a highlight of my life as a designer, I mean it. I caught the Parisian shopping bug from them and my life will never be the same again!
Ann and Meg are wonderful Parisian market guides and make the entire experience carefree and exciting. Ann and Meg not only speak French, but they also know how to barter with dealers. They took us to all the best dealers for the creme’ de la creme’ of quality antiques and vintage finds in Paris. I would be remiss not to credit them with teaching me how and where to shop in Paris.
There are several markets we like to attend a couple times a year as well as shop the various areas in the Puces. The items we find range from artists creations like the well known mirrors above often found in Jean Louis Deinot’s projects as well as smaller antique pieces.
This year’s markets were especially fun and prolific. My french design-loving friends Nicolette, Traci and I shopped til our hearts were content. Actually, I think we could have shopped more, but our pocketbooks said enough and so did our feet. Also, champagne, bread and cheese starting beckoning us around 6 pm.
There is so much to love about shopping in Paris. As a designer, my senses are delighted at every turn. All along the market routes, there are beautiful flowers which we always stop to admire. If we get tired at lunch there is a champagne stand and a fabulous lunch to be enjoyed. The only struggle is trying to decide which place to choose for our glorious meal.
Americans could learn so much from Europeans. We rush through so much that often we skip taking the time to have a civilized lunch. Travel to Europe reminds me to slow down and enjoy a lunch break or an afternoon tea.
Once you start shopping in Europe you meet special dealers you build a relationship with and look forward to seeing on each trip. It is always fun to see what treasures they bring to market.
I bought a pair of these gorgeous urns dated 1860’s for a special courtyard. Aren’t they fabulous? I cannot wait to see them in place in their new home. It is always fun to fantasize about the previous owners and the possible story behind our finds.
Here are some more beautiful French pots that I also wanted but didn’t pull the trigger on. I’m guessing they got swooped up by another shopper rather quickly. In the Parisian markets, you must act fast or you lose out. The ole “you snooze, you lose” definitely applies here! See how these pots are sitting in the mud? That is how so much of the items we find are showcased! Even the fine antique furniture is often sitting in the mud. I guess the dealers figure if it has lasted hundreds of years a little water isn’t going to hurt it.
Some of the dealers have nice covered areas for their furniture like this vendor, but most are in tent-like structures at the markets. This dealer always has some interesting pieces.
Ok, so I promised the my top tips for shopping in Paris but I also threw in some basic travel advice to help you prepare for your trip. I’ll probably remember some other tips and add those later. What are your travel tips? Please share if you have some must do travel tips I missed. Would love to hear from you!!!!
Top 12 Tips For Shopping The Markets in Paris!
1) Don’t assume you can go by yourself the first time and be successful. Sure you can browse the Puses, but really finding the good dealers takes time. Hire a guide or sign up for a buying trip. I would highly recommend signing up for Huff Harrington’s trips here! Ann and Meg have put together not only a successful way to shop, but an all around fun trip. Gather some friends and take off with Huff Harrington but plan ahead and sign up well before you want to go. Their trips fill up quickly. Who doesn’t want to drink Champagne in the market and shop til your heart’s delight! Huff Harrington takes all the planning out of your trip. You just sign up, pack and enjoy! Your digs for the week will be a Paris apartment, which makes you feel like a native! They also take care of the logistics of shipping your treasures home which is a huge relief.
2) Do your homework! Look at prices at home before you go so you know when pricing is good. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price but don’t offend your dealers. Often they will offer a better price but if you keep haggling sometimes they get offended and won’t deal with you. If you really want something try to be fair with them and accept when they say best price. If you don’t care if you lose something you may ask for better pricing but we warned you may offend them.
3) Make a plan for what you are shopping for before you go. The markets can be overwhelming, so it is best to have a plan prior to arrival at the markets. If you are like me and shopping for clients, it is always a good idea to have your measurements handy. I keep all measurements on my phone as well as pictures of rooms, colors, etc so I don’t have to keep up with paperwork while traveling. I take pictues of floor plans and store everything on my notes app.
4) Dress for the weather. It is often rainy in Paris, so I always take a folding umbrella, rain boots, a pair of gloves and warm coat. I love these rain boots which are easy to pack, umbrella and coat which serves as a raincoat or warm weather coat for traveling abroad. It is a good idea to have a hat you can pop on too. I didn’t last time and I did get a little cold. A hat keeps the heat in your body so plan to have a small one handy you can pop on as needed. Dressing in layers is another good idea. You can remove layers if you get hot on the train.
5) Get euros prior to leaving. If you get over $1000 most banks require an appointment so check to see which bank in your area can exchange currency and make an appointment prior to your trip or exchange at the airport. You may take money out of the atm’s abroad but sometimes it doesn’t work and you don’t want to be caught without money.
6) Notify your bank and credit card companies prior to leaving and give them your travel dates. Some credit card companies keep track of your travels via the chip in your card but others don’t. It is always best to notify them so you are covered while traveling.
7) Call your phone carrier prior to leaving and get an international plan. I have At&T which is only $10 a day in Europe. If you have the AT& T app, you can do it from your phone. Also, download a translator app. I like google translator. I also have a currency converter for quick conversions while shopping.
8) Pack a plan bag which you will have in your carry on bag. Once on the plan you can pull out that bag and have everything you need for the plane. What is in the travel plane bag you ask? To see my #1 favorite item click here! Easy to wash and quick drying. I highly suggest you go ahead and purchase those so you have them at the ready for your next trip. I also use those in hotels rooms when traveling domestically. I also recommend having these in your plane travel bag click here. If you have a crying baby in the seat near you, you will thank me.
Other items I keep in my bag are chapstick, eyedrops, hand lotion, tissues, gum,nuts or snacks you like and mints. I buy a bottled water in the airport, so I have access to water during the overnight flight when the flight attendants may be out of commissions. I have noticed some people take their own water bottle and have the attendant fill it but I don’t want to have one to carry around.
9) Once you land buy yourself a phone charger for your phone in Paris. It makes life so much easier. That way you can charge your phone anywhere you go during the day. If you want to purchase one prior to leaving click here. That box takes care of all your iphone needs anywhere around the world. Or buy one of these and keep it with you so you can charge on the go. This is my absolute favorite mobile phone chargers because I can charge both iphone and andriod if my friend needs charging plus there aren’t any cords to keep up with. Click here to see my favorite mobile phone charger!
10) I keep a travel drawer in my closet with all my travel items. It makes packing so much easier.
11) My very favorite new market pullover is this one! It has a kangaroo pocket which is so handy for keeping my phone accessible yet out of the way so I can use my hands if necessary. Not only is it warm but it is cute with a pair of leggings. I just ordered a second one because I have been wearing the one I have so much.
12) Don’t take too many clothes with you! Save room in your suitcase for things you buy on your trip. I often pack a carryon and put it inside an empty larger suitcase so when I shop, I have a bag to fill to bring home. I check the larger bag and then take the carry on on the plane with any items that are breakable so I can handle those with care. Here’s another tip for you: Don’t check fancy luggage. Thieves often take the expensive luggage because they think if you are willing to spend a lot of money on luggage what’s inside must be good too. It’s better to have a nondescript piece of luggage with a ribbon or a tag that helps you to recognize your luggage on the conveyor belt when retrieving once you land. I always pack a gown, clean underwear and one clean top, toothbrush, hairbrush and makeup in my carryon just in case my luggage gets delayed or lost. Once I land I have enough to get me started on my trip. If I have to go purchase clothing, I have something fresh until I can go to the store.
I hope my Paris shopping and travel tips are helpful to you! Remember to plan ahead so you don’t waste time on your trip! You want to make every minute count!
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