Before the fleas, the Saint-Ouen ragpickers
After the war of 1870, the ragpickers, driven out of Paris, built the first merchant villages in Saint-Ouen. They are nicknamed "thieves", "chiftires", "biffins" or more poetically "moon fishermen" since they roamed the city at night in search of old objects thrown into the garbage that they later sold in the markets.
Official birth in 1885
But it was 1885 that marked the official birth of the flea market. The city of Saint-Ouen is mobilizing to clean up and secure the district. Puciers must pay a parking fee to carry out their activity. The press produced several picturesque reports between 1905 and 1914. More and more Parisians go there on Sundays, in keeping with the tradition of off-wall walks.
The interwar period and the formation of the first markets
After the First World War, the "Puces" were so crowded that businessmen bought land around the rue des Rosiers. They set up streets and bring water and electricity to stands that they rent very expensively. The first four markets were created between 1920 and 1938: Vernaison, Malik, Biron and Jules Vallès.
The atmosphere of the flea market: a trendy place to stroll and the cradle of "Jazz-Manouche".
From then on, the place became fashionable, the crowd sought the atmosphere of the flea market renowned for its cafés, bistros, restaurants and recreational activities. At the time, the new working class population of Saint-Ouen frequented the many bistros in the district. This population has been joined by another one, that of the gypsies who also stay in the area with their caravans and animate the district of their music: the "Jazz-Manouche". Django Reinhardt played in the area but also in many dance halls in the area as far as Montmartre.
The world's leading antiques marketplace
Between 1946 and 1991, 12 other markets opened their doors. The world's largest antique market, the flea market (more commonly known as the Puces de Clignancourt flea market) is one of the largest tourist sites in Ile-de-France.
History tells us that an unknown hunter once cried out as he contemplated the displays of scrap metal and old rags from the top of the fortifications: "my word is the flea market", just meaning that the merchandise sold here was questionable, to say the least, and that these old clothes sold by the ragpickers were probably sold "including fleas". But it is mainly the postcard merchants who will allow this name to go down in history. Indeed, we see this name "flea market" written in the legend of several postcards.