There is something very special about visiting a local flea market or antiques fair on your travels. You never know what you might find, and as long as you keep away from the biggest tourist traps, you are certain to be able to pick up a bargain.
Here, we take a look at some of the very best destinations for those with a taste for the unusual. They are scattered across two continents, so check out the latest Expedia reviews, get your flights and hotels booked and let’s go antique hunting!
There are all sorts of antique markets, large and small, tucked away in different corners of Paris, but the mother of them all is Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt. The market dates back well over 100 years and is open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. With around 3,000 stalls, you can find everything from jewellery to musical instruments to fine art.
The market is accessible from Porte de St-Ouen or Garibaldi métro stations. Visit on a Monday morning when it is quieter, and make sure you have plenty of cash on you – there is just one ATM on the entire seven-hectare site, and there is always a queue. Why not check out this great guide to flea markets in Paris.
If you are planning a trip to the Chicago area, make sure you aim for late October, and pay a visit to the nearby town of Wheaton for the third weekend of the month. Here, you will find the annual All Night Flea Market, where as soon as the sun sets, hundreds of bargain hunters turn up, torches in hand, to peruse hundreds of stalls.
You never know what you will come across, and the action stops with the rising sun. It is enormous fun and even those who hate shopping will get into the spirit of it!
While you are across the pond, factor in a visit to the Brimfield Antique Show. There is one in July and another in September, so you can dovetail it with your overnight adventures in Illinois. Each show runs for six days and features around 5,000 stands, selling everything under the sun. Given that it takes place across 23 farm fields in the Massachusetts countryside, this is another one where you need to plan ahead and have plenty of cash with you.
Ready for the next leg of the journey? San Telmo Antiques Fair has a wealth of jewellery, antiques, artwork and various other treasures. It also just happens to be located in San Telmo, the home of tango, so you can expect some atmospheric musical accompaniments to your shopping. The market is only open on Sundays from 10AM to 5PM, so time your visit carefully.
Finally, we return to Europe and Las Ramblas, a gorgeous pedestrianised street that joins Barcelona’s old town with the port area. Here, there are scores of stalls and shops selling antiques, books, vintage clothing and more. The shops are open every day, and the market stalls are there at the port end most mornings.