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What to expect when visiting the largest antique market in France

One of the many benefits of living in the Netherlands is being only a 5-hour ride away from Paris. You know because Paris is always a good idea! So in March my boyfriend and I drove to Paris and spent a night in a dubious hotel on the outskirts of town. The next morning we made our way through rush-hour traffic to Chatou. Here they hold ‘Foire de Chatou’, the the largest flea market and antique fair in France twice every year. Ever since we bought our first house nearly a year ago I’ve wanted to visit flea markets in France to look for unique second-hand pieces that add character to our new home. 

Foire de Chatou 2024

What I had in mind was dusty roads in little French towns with locals wanting to make a few bucks on their unwanted attic clutter. Well, Foire de Chatou is not that.

With over 700 second-hand sellers, you will find professional sellers who know the value of their products very well. Or they aren’t afraid to over exaggerate.

While I was taken aback by the prices, I still found it to be an amazing experience. In addition to the antiques, the market also offered an incredible gastronomical experience. Several French cuisines were represented, including oysters from Normandy, sausages, wine from Burgundy, and lots of cheese.

And even though my long shopping wishlist did not get much shorter, I still wholeheartedly recommend visiting Foire de Chatou. Whether you’re hunting for vintage treasures or just want to experience a French antique market, it’s the place to be!

For dates and more info, check out the market page of Foire de Chatou. The next edition is from 22 September to 1 October 2023, so you can start saving!

Here are seven tips for visiting French antique markets:


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Bring cash

Most vendors at the market prefer cash transactions, so it's best to have enough cash on hand to make purchases. Keep in mind that some markets are far away from town centers and may not have ATMs nearby, so bring enough cash to avoid any hassle.

Brush up on your French

Although most vendors can speak English, it's always courteous to start with a "Bonjour" and end with a "Merci" when interacting with them. If you're able to converse in French, it can help you negotiate prices and build rapport with the vendors. At Foire de Chatou most vendors spoke good enough English to communicate effectively.

Prepare to haggle

Haggling is common at French antique markets, but make sure to do it respectfully. Don't offend the sellers with lowball offers, but negotiate to get a fair price.

Eat the food

French antique markets often have amazing food stalls selling local specialties that you won't want to miss.

Have a wishlist but be willing to let it go

t's always a good idea to have a list of items you're looking for. However, be open to new discoveries and don't let your list stop you from exploring other options.

Make a plan before making any purchases

Make a mental note (or take photos) of what you want on your first round, then check out the entire grounds and come back. You can often find similar things sold at different stalls at different prices. It’s also a great way to limit impulsive purchases: if you still think about the item 30-60 minutes later go back and get it!

Market details


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