Shopping for vintage furniture

Start with these venues in your quest for the best retro chairs and cupboards

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An industrial lamp perched on a bedside table, a giant metal cupboard by the entrance... No doubt about it – vintage furniture is the way to go if you're looking to spice up a drab interior. Though it tends toward the expensive side, there's no need to break the bank; a few old-school touches here and there should do the job. Below are a few shops to get you started on your retro odyssey.

Robert M. Smith

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

You wouldn’t guess it from the outside – through the front window, you can’t see much other than neon lights and a few hung clothes – but this vintage boutique has enough in store to keep you coming back for more. The first room, which doubles up as an artisanal workshop, sets the tone: trinkets crowd the shelves, while second-hand bikes and garments of obscure origin fill the floor space. Bargain-hunters will be kept busy – we found an old wicker-framed mirror for €10, and a formica chair for €12. Carry on thence into the salon, decked out in the kind of retro furniture that you’d find in a street market for twice the price...

  1. 25 rue de Sambre-et-Meuse, 10e
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Carouche

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Carouche isn’t an ordinary furniture store, but a singular second hand showroom. Here, objects are interpreted rather than merely sold – they are hunted down, tidied up, and if necessary turned into something completely different. Owner Caroline Giraud has been painting and polishing to give found items new life for ten years – she’s travelled the world, particularly the US, to collect furniture from offices, factories, architects and farms. In her attractive boutique near the Charonne metro, huge pieces – school desks, dentist’s chairs, industrial shelving – are placed next to smaller but no less elegant objects (metal teapots, vintage mirrors)...

  1. 18 rue Jean Macé, 11e
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L'Autre Sens

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

There’s no ‘Made in China’ at L’Autre Sens. Rather, you’ll find ethical and responsibly sourced objets, the majority from local French businesses (both provincial and Ile-de-France) that make use of natural and recycled materials. This boutique is constantly reinventing itself, with new products often being tested alongside the wide and original selection of design pieces. Prices are affordable, if not exactly competitive compared to the internet (shipping included): from €1 for some small trinkets up to €400 for a Syrian artisanal lamp or €880 for a desk. Christophe Guillot, the owner and a cabinet-maker who works with iron...

  1. 141 avenue Emile Zola, 15e
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Bric-à-Brac Riquet

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

A fabulous bric-a-brac store with low prices and excellent taste, this place was a gamble by the Emmaüs Défi anti-poverty charity that is really paying off. Nearly a hundred previously unemployed people work the huge site, which is only open on Saturdays. The former market space has lost none of its character, now encompassing an area for furniture, a corner for games and books and changing rooms made out of butcher’s fridges. The prices are adapted to the clientele, with day-to-day items and basic furniture at giveaway rates for local families and high quality vintage furniture and clothing sometimes...

  1. 40 rue Riquet, 19e
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Les Années Scooter

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Philippe Devant honed his taste for second-hand treasures as a compulsive collector since the age of 15, and a regular rummager at the Vanves Flea Market for more than 20 years. The passion comes through at his chaotic dépôt-vente on the Rue Faidherbe: he has a particular taste for vintage Vespas (from €1500 to €5000), as well a whole slew of other atypical knick-knacks (jukeboxes, Moon rocket shoes and old advertising signs). A set of traffic lights hang on the wall, a pretty 1920s chest (€120) sits in the entrance, industrial lamps are perched here and there: Les Années Scooter offers a large range of furniture from the 50s and 60s...

  1. 23 rue Faidherbe, 11e
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