A few mass-produced furniture pieces and home accessories from the likes of Restoration Hardware or West Elm are all fine and well, but when it comes to personalizing your digs (or even your wardrobe, for that matter), there’s only one place to go—the flea market.
Of course, not all fleas are created equal. These ten markets—which range from a sprawling 40-acre property in San Jose to Paris’ winding Marché aux Puces—are safe bets if you want to avoid the junk and head for the treasure.
Where are your favorite fleas? Tell us in the comments below.
JAMESTOWN, TN: 127 Corridor is technically the world's biggest yard sale, spanning a whopping 690 miles through North Covington, Kentucky to Gadsden, Alabama. It boasts more than 2,000 vendors peddling antique wares and unusual trinkets. It's worth clearing your schedule for this Southern shopping excursion, believe us. 127sale.com.
BRIMFIELD, MA: A virtual mecca for collectors and decorators, the massive Brimfield Antique Show takes place three times a year in a series of fields (each about the size of a football stadium) overflowing with 4,000 plus vendors who stock everything from chesterfield sofas to European antiques. The Ralph Lauren visual merchandising team has made this market their go-to. Rt 20, Brimfield, MA; brimfield.com.
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BUENOS AIRES: Every Sunday, the picturesque Plaza Dorrego—the second oldest plaza in Buenos Aries—is overtaken by a massive antique market, complete with quirky vendor stalls, street food and public tango dancing lessons. buenostours.com.
MADRID: Located along Plaza de Cascorro, Madrid's popular El Rastro market hosts a vast selection of antique shops as well as more modern vendors each Sunday. Score old-fashioned furniture pieces or scoop up a hand full of funky Spanish tchotchkes before ducking into one of the nearby bars for an afternoon cocktail. 21 Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores, Madrid; esmadrid.com.
TEL AVIV: Plan to get to the Old Jaffa flea market early on Sunday—according to tradition, if you're the vendor's first customer of the new week, he'll strike a bargain to bring good luck. And chances are, there will be plenty to catch your eye, from old copper trinkets and Persian tiles to wild, glitzy baubles. telavivguide.com.
BEIJING: Travelers tough enough to brave the crowds at Beijing's bustling Panjiayuan Antique Market will be rewarded for their efforts. The sprawling market offers everything from amber and jade jewelry to traditional Chinese furniture and elegant, hand-painted pottery. 18 Huaweili, Panjiayuan Road, Beijing; thechinaguide.com.
PARIS: The City of Light's Marché aux Puces—which translates to "Market of the Fleas"—is thought to be the original "flea" market. Located on the northernmost fringes of the city, this market has an old world feel, and is teeming with unusual treasures like old French cooking pots, vintage clothes and threadbare tapestries. Avenue de la Porte de Clignancourt, Paris; marchesauxpuces.fr.
LONDON: Flanked by candy-colored houses, the narrow, winding Portobello Road Market is one of the world's most iconic fleas. Given its notoriety, weekends tend to get overwhelmingly crowded, so come prepared to push your way in physically to the best bargains. Friday is when the insiders shop. portobelloroad.co.uk.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: Comprised of more than 2,000 booths and 40 acres, The San Jose Flea is one of the most extensive in the world, with long corridors stuffed with arts and crafts, comic books, tools and furniture. It's definitely a flea market that you can make a day of thanks to food carts, snack bars and even a few carnival rides. sfjm.com.
LOS ANGELES: The massive Rose Bowl Flea Market boasts terrific vintage shopping (its a favorite of Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant) with a uniquely Californian twist. Shoppers can expect to find cool old surf boards, extensive record collections and tasty homemade food. 1001 Rose Bowl Dr., Pasadena; rgcshows.com.