When I first arrived in Paris, back in the early nineties, the consignment shop concept hadn’t quite taken off. In fact, it took some persistent questioning to discover the French translation for ‘consignment’ which is ‘depot-vente’. After some forehead wrinkling and shoulder-shrugging, a friend said, ‘AHHH! Perhaps you’re talking about a ‘depot-vente’ or a ‘sales depot’. Yes, like Home Depot – but for people’s last season clothes. Les depot-vente did exist in Paris – even in the nineties, but aside from such bastions as Reciproque, consignment was more often associated with antique furniture rather than clothing. Some women might have mentioned dropping off an old auntie’s Burberry raincoat, but NEVER admitted to actually buying something from consignment. Perhaps, there still remains a tinge of tackiness in the minds of Parisians to this particular sport. However, nowadays private ‘troc parties’ at Parisian apartments are getting noticed by top fashion magazines. The English word ‘vintage’ has lodged itself in everyday Parisian conversations. Depending on your perspective – vintage can only be clothes from the 1970s backwards, but the eighties style has its followers as well. Consignment shopping is not quite the same (and for that reason, more challenging – finding recent cast-offs, that may have arrived ahead of the fashion curve).
If you’ve read my past post on consignment shopping in Paris, you’ll know that I’m can’t give high praise for the majority of Paris’s consignment shops. Reciproque is one of my least favorites. It’s huge by Paris boutique standards – brimming with cast-off Chanels and famous labels which have lingered too long in closets. That’s not to say you won’t find your ‘bonheur’ or ‘happiness’ as salesclerks call finding ‘just the right thing’, but I wouldn’t want to place bets.
People who are tried and true consignment shoppers understand that the quest is not simply for a ‘designer outfit at a great price’. It has to be a treasure – for next to nothing.
In Paris, you’ll find that even in consignment shops, prices are almost double what one might pay stateside. If you’re looking for rock-bottom prices, your best bet is to frequent the Porte de Vanves Sunday morning flea market which is still one of the less commercialized markets in the Parisian metropolitan area. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to stumble upon treasures – like the Ines de Fressange burgundy silk ruffled blouse which I unearthed at the a Rue de Buci consignment shop – but you will still have to pay a little more than you’ve budgeted.
Consignment shopping is an adventure and a good consignment shop owner needs to be the treasure seeker’s guide and accomplice – or at least – a cheerleading bystander. Sadly, Parisian consignment shopkeepers (for the most part) haven’t caught on yet to the ‘girl-fun’ aspect. Perhaps the recent tide in private ‘troc’ parties (the word for exchange in French is ‘troc’) will wake up Parisian consignment shop owners from their apathetic doze.
In vintage shops which normally feature clothes from the 1970s backwards, you might surely rub shoulders with the Rich and Famous. Needless to say, the price tags go up when you keep such good company. If you have a favorite era and decide that your wardrobe isn’t complete without at least one 1930s bias cut frock, Paris is your city. For this sort of focused excursion, I would suggest checking out Sara de Haro’s book ‘Paris Vintage‘. De Haro lists a number of vintage clothing stores in Paris, but also the location of vintage booths at the St. Ouen flea market. If you’ve already visited the St. Ouen flea market in Paris’s northern outskirts, you’ll know that having specific addresses are absolutely necessary.
Paris Vintage is part of a slew of Paris guidebooks called ‘Paris Est a Nous’ published by Parigramme. I picked up my copy at the FNAC bookstore for all of 6 Euros. If you’ll recall, I’ve mentioned another handy book from this series for really cheap Paris restaurants – that was “Les Meilleurs Restos a Petits Prix”. As soon as you get to Paris, go to the FNAC bookstore FIRST before you start shopping.
The Parigramme book series addresses just about every topic imaginable about Paris – from Paris chocolate to the best places to kiss in Paris. Luckily for Parislogue readers, the Paris Vintage is written in French AND English. Quelle bonne idee!
In the meantime, here are my suggestions for two consignment shops that I would recommend plus a few more that may be in your neighborhood:
Maison de Fan Fan
4 Rue Mayet (same side of the street as Tea and Tattered Pages but Fan-Fan’s at the opposite end of the block)
Tel: 01 40 56 90 58
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Fan-Fan’s owners are the most polite, welcoming consignment shop owners I’ve met in Paris. This shop caters primarily to Asian customers, so you may have trouble finding clothes in larger sizes, but they also have plenty of designer handbags, belts and shoes.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Depot Vente de Buci-Bourbon
6 rue le Bourbon-le-Chateau
Metro: St. Germain-des-Pres
This is where I found my Ines de Fressange silk blouse, as well as a pair of black-patent leather Bally sandals
4 rue Mouton Duvernet 75014 PARIS
Tel.01 45 39 30 03
This shop was listed in Fodors Paris 2007: (I haven’t yet visited it):
Le Depot Vente de Passy
14 Rue de la Tour, 16eme arrond.
Tel: 01 45 20 95 21
Listed in Paris Vintage:
31 Rue Delambre
Partly vintage, partly consignment, you may be able to unearth a treasure or two here. I haven’t yet found my ‘bonheur’.
76 rue des Tournelles 3eme arrond
Tues-Sat 12 am to 7:30 pm
Sunday afternoon 3 pm to 7: 30 pm
Located in the Place des Vosges, Marais district, this is one of the few consignment shops (verging on vintage) which is open on Sundays!
Last, but not least,
88, 89, 92, 95, & 101
Rue de la Pompe
Metro: Rue de la Pompe
It’s the biggest! What more can I say?
I’ve bought several items here, but only one article that I’d really consider a good ‘find’. This is probably the most well-known consignment shop in town, but not necessarily representative of the best that Paris has to offer. If you have more than one shopping day in Paris, my suggestion is to explore some of the smaller boutiques.