Les puces de Paris… with a flash light.

The origin of my addiction interest for flea markets and vintage hunt has a really well defined root.

No need for shrinks or hypnoses to unveil the genesis of it.

My dad (the usual suspect) has been an antique dealer when he was student, buying and selling from and to antique shops in Puces de St-Ouen in north of Paris, France.
Later on, he had an antique shop in Les Halles, Paris, before he became an architect.

My dad has always been a collector, his core collection being tin toys and battery toys.
From my very young age, I have been following him in flea markets, auctions and antique shops.
I remember going on holidays in UK, all 7 of us, going from one antique shop to another, and from one fish&chips shop to another.

During the week ends at home, there was a little ritual.
Saturday night was the only TV night allowed to kids. We were all watching TV when my dad would ask causally “who comes to flea market with me tomorrow morning”.
I remember that I might have been the only regular one to volunteer. We all would come now and then but I think I was pretty much there almost every time (maybe my mind plays tricks on me).

There was a catch though. Volunteering to come would imply wake up at 5am.

Follows a morning ride, warming up in a cold car, hoping the ride would never end. 6.00am arriving at Puces de Vanves or other puces (flea market) as it was still dark.


Took out our flash lights (as it was dark) and start thrifting with sharks and dealers, I think I started when I was 8 or so. I remember the dance of the lights in the dark, competing with others, looking where no-one is looking but being intrigued and tempted when all the torches pointed at the same directions.
After a round, we would go to a café for a hot chocolate, waiting for the sun to come up. Then do another round with the sunlight and see the market with another eye.

I remember a lot from this time. I also remember buying toys in the dark that we would regret later in the daylight.
I remember asking for old toy prices hoping the seller would lower the price for a kid asking, and not the dad.
I remember croissant, café, chocolate, car boot filling up and bringing back fresh bred to the family waking up around 10am.

Today, my dad it taking my kids to flea markets, not as early though, and I re-live those feelings every time my eyes, like a flash light at 5am in dark Paris, fly from objects to objects, trying to spot the interesting piece in a flea market.

Today I mostly hunt lamps but I rarely pass on a toy or valuable item at a sexy bargain price.

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