I just returned from Paris, and am happy to share my list with you of where I found postcards – aka les Cartes Postale. First off, there is a plethora of postcards to choose from, so if you are a collector or trader I suggest you narrow your list down if you don’t want to go broke. There are tourists view cards; vintage reproductions in color, sepia and tinted black & white; Nouvelles Images; cartoons / illustrations; and graphic / quote cards. There are also an abundance of antique postcards. I didn’t expect to see so many antique postcards, so I came with the intention of buying new cards to trade. Instead I spent most of my budget on antique cards for my own collection and to resell.
Click here to see the map.
Keep reading to see the list of my favorite places to shop for postcards in Paris. ↓
I am going to post my shopping recommendations as “les Cartes Postale Shopping Tour” (because that would be my dream vacation – a postcard shopping tour with other collectors, going to all the best hidden locations!). Also, some of the locations and markets are only open certain days or are best certain days. You can start at any point in the tour, just make sure if you are going to a market you go on that day (i.e. St-Ouen should be on a Monday).
Saturday – the “bouquinistes” little green wooden boxes that are attached to the walls lining either side of the Seine river. Go in the afternoon when there is more likelihood of many of them being open.
I thought la Rive Gauche (aka the left bank) had the most unique stuff – the bouquinistes run from approximately the Louvre to Notre Dame. Postcards were between 0,60€ and 1,50€ and ranged from new Nouvelles Images to antique real photo cards. I noticed on the way out of town that the bouquinistes on la Rive Droit which also start from approximately the Louvre run all the way to mid Ile St. Louis. I didn’t actually walk the whole strip, but driving by in the taxi it looked like they had a wider variety of stuff. FYI, the usual faire is antique books, but you can also find antique magazines, prints, maps, and other tchotchkes.
Sunday – Marche aux Timbres et aux Cartes Telephonique Paisian Fields Blog Post Open Thurs., Sat., Sun. 8e – 1 block north of the Champs Élysées and a few blocks east of the Arc de Triomphe in the park on the Ave. de Marigny from Ave. Gabriel to Allee Proust.
The day I was there, there were only four vendors because of the Paris Marathon. From what I understand, there are usually about 15. Three of the for vendors had “les cartes postale ancienne” (antique postcards). For the most part, they were all sorted by geographical region. Themed cards were separate and few. Prices were 1,00€ to 5,00€. I found a few Poisson d’Avril postcards, but at those prices I didn’t buy many.
Monday – Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen de Clignancourt Paris Perfect Blog Post 18e – The website above will give you directions to get there, as well as a map and a link to an iPhone app of dealers.
Open Sat., Sun., Mon. although some vendors are closed Mondays. Go early (I think the market officially opens at 11am, but most of the vendors were open when we got there at 11am – rumor has it that some dealers close early after a long weekend. This has to be the world’s largest flea market. I’ve read reports that there are over 2000 vendors. It’s a little overwhelming if you don’t know where you are going. On entering it feels a bit like a shanty town with lots of junk (not the good kind). Once you get into where the permanent shops are, you can find the good junk. I found one postcard dealer upstairs in the Marche Dauphine, on rue de Rosier, that had boxes of “les cartes postale ancienne” – I got 11 for 10,00€. He also had more expensive cards.
Tuesday – Souvenir shops 1e – Rue de Rivoli from the Louvre to the Obelisk.
Walk the covered walk and look at all the souvenir shops. Yes, most of them have the same cards, mostly touristy, but I found the prices varied from 1,00€ each to 0,20€ each. These were by far the cheapest view cards I found and they were the same quality as all the other view cards. You can also look at the Comedie Francaise gift shop (rue de Rivoli and rue de Opera) as well as the Louvre gift shop. Expect to pay at least 1,50€ per card.
Wednesday – la Marché aux Vieux Papier 12e – Saint Mande – Ave. de Paris, starts just outside the Metro stop. Open Wednesdays 9am until 6pm
This is heaven for anyone that collects antique and vintage postcards. Plan to be there most of the day. Many vendors have boxes of unsorted cards for 0,20€ to 0,50€. I found many antique Paris postcards (including Eiffel Tower) and real photo cards in these boxes. There are also loads of sorted cards – same categorization as the Marchg aux Timbres. FYI, there is a decent creperie called “le Banquett” kitty corner to the market for nice break.
Thursday – Passage des Panorama, Passage Jouffroy, Passage Verdeau, Passage Vivienne, etc. New York Times Travel section article 2e, 4e & 9e
Wander the passages. Each one is different and the stores are unique. Pain d’Epices is a wonderful toy / miniatures / craft store that has cute postcards for about 1,50€. In Passage des Panoramas there is a store that has a box of unsorted antique postcards for 1,00€ each.
Friday – Rue St. Germaine des Pres and Rue de Moufftard 7e and 5e
Rue St. Germaine des Pres has several paper and book stores. Rue de Moufftard is a charming narrow shopping street with boutiques, cafes and markets. The postcards you will find on both streets are the more popular illustrated, graphic, artistic variety as well as Nouvelles Images. You can expect to pay about 1,50€ per card.
If you still have a day left in Paris, ride the Metro up to Montmartre (Metro stop Abesses). climb up to Sacre-Couer, take some photos of the view of Paris, then wind your way back down. My family likes the view of Paris from there better than the view from the Eiffel Tower (plus if you walk along rue Norvins, I think, you can get a great shot of the Eiffel Tower in your picture).
Also, if you collect skull postcards, across the street from the exit from the Catacombs on rue Remy Dumoncel just a block north of the Alesia Metro stop there is a little gift shop that sells a good variety (you don’t have to pay admission to the catacombs).
I started collecting postcards when I was about 5 years old. My only Grandfather lived in Germany, and it was a fun way for us to correspond and have some sort of relationship. I adored the "Hilde" postcards, and he soon started sending me a different one each time he wrote. I had a special bond with my paternal Grandfather, although I only met him a few times.
A few years later my adopted Grandparents in Denver started sending me postcards from their vacations, which were mostly road-trips around the USA. My collection continued to grow and eventually filled two binders. As my collection grew, my mother, who also collected postcards when she was young, started adding postcards to my binders from her collection. I had so much fun dreaming of traveling to exotic places! I would sort and re-sort the postcards by type, location, like/dislike, etc.
It wasn't until I was in my 20's, when I sorted the postcards chronologically by sender, that I realized there were a few postcards from my maternal grandmother to my mother. One such postcard was sent to my mother as a teenager who was visiting family in Berlin. My Grandmother wrote and asked her to come home early because my Grandfather's illness had taken a turn for the worse. My Grandmother died a few months later of an unrelated disease, and my Grandfather several weeks after that.
I also found a postcard from a ship that my paternal Grandfather sailed on to immigrate to the USA. He sent it to his parents and explains that when he got seasick, the crew told him to eat rollmops and drink beer and hot cocoa (yes, pickled herring + beer + chocolate).
My current postcard collection is divided into two sets. One set is the pictures I like sorted by theme - exotic places, animals that make me smile, costumes that I dream of making. The other set is from family and pieces together our story.
I still send postcards when I travel and am an active trader.