Go Bargain Hunting in Paris’ Vintage Stores and Flea Markets
When boho-chic style hit the catwalks, prices in Notting Hill's second hand stores soared - and they never came back down, crippled vintage shopping and forcing those looking for that particular to look elsewhere. So, when the affordability of weekend break to the other side of the Channel you can say 'bonjour' to Paris's Le Marais district - your wallet and wardrobe's new best friend. Here taffeta cocktail dresses are in abundance, leather satchels are aplenty - and price tags are rock bottom. My first stop was between Bastille and the Chatelet, Free'P'Star (8 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie - Hotel de Ville Metro).
Drab on the outside, inside Free'P is dizzying - clothes and people are everywhere. Taking elbow blows in my stride, I scour racks of cowboy jackets and sequined tops with 80s shoulder pads, slinging a red polka-dot dress, nipped in lovingly at the waist, over my back.
Then I see it - the rickety stairway to heaven. My heaven being a balcony, where cardboard boxes of screwed-up clothes are marked 'TOUT 1 EURO', and I make my ascent.
Next is Coiffeur Vintage (32, Rue de Rosiers - it's calmer than Free'P and the rails are refreshed by deliveries regularly.
Here caramel fur coats go for £42. In a moment, I have a brown paisley neck scarf, a woollen shawl, scarlet neck tie, chocolate chiffon wrap, and polka dot neck tie in my arms. £4 for the lot? Merci beaucoup.
Hopping on the Saint Paul Metro to Cardinal Lemoine, I head for Generique (68 Rue Card Lemoine). This pink-fronted consignment store in the Latin Quarter specialises in vintage jewellery and big names are buried in the racks. So, spend some time to search you can find some gems here.
In a short time, my fines (the bags) are weighing me down, but it's barely 10am, so with a gulp I take the Metro to the end of the line (Porte de Clignancourt) to the world's largest flea market - Les Puces (open all day Sat-Mon).
As I disembark to a world of high rises, I realise this is the Paris on the news, where residents riot and fires burn. Loins girded; I stride on.
Slipping under a concrete overpass, I find stalls and shops as far as the eye can see. Learn to sift the bad stalls (those selling Happy Meal toys) from the good (shops with Paddington Bear leather trunks - £10) and the bargains are yours to barter for.
As for warnings of being mugged? What tosh, I think, gravitating towards a store with a Wild Wet front and corrugated iron entrance.
Then I round the corner fully and see that what's on display is not dynamite clothing but genuine ammunition - and what look suspiciously like AK47s.
The hooded men guarding this outpost of banditry eyeball me unwelcomingly and I decide it's time to flee Les Puces.
As I turn on my heel, clutching £60 of truly divine clothing, I declare my warfare against overpriced vintage fashion victorious.