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         ||   P.O. Box 356  ~  Browns Valley, CA 95918  ~  Tel: (530) 743-1339   ||   

Bead Shopping in Paris

A lot of people go to Europe to hunt for glass beads, and think that they have to go to the centers of bead production to find beads, such as Jablonecs nad Nisou in Czech Republic, or Neu Gablonz in Germany, or Venice, Italy. And while you can find beads at these locations, usually it means buying directly from the factories at enormous quantities and requires large amounts of money. Leave that to the importers who specialize in doing just that. Instead, head to the city that most of Europe goes to when they need to buy beads in wholesale quantities, or even just retail quantities, but need variety of many styles and types: Paris, France.

Paris has two main ways of shopping for beads – the bead district and the flea market.

The bead district is located in the heart of Paris, in the region of Les Halles, in the eastern side of the city, arrondisiment 3. It is about four blocks of streets situated within the garment district, so you will find bead stores both retail and wholesale sprinkled around clothing stores that have storefronts filled with maybe only one style of dress or jacket, but boxes and boxes filled with them, and workers pushing carts and dollies loaded down with boxes going from street corner to trucks, loading and unloading. Within the bead district is also the sex district, and you will also see sex shops and video arcades, strip joints and prostitutes everywhere.

Although I have not listed every wholesale business, these are some of the bead businesses within this area. Most have both a retail shop and a wholesale section for larger purchases.

Bead Stores:

  • Perles Box: 1 Rue de Clairvoux, also Turbigo St
  • Tout a Loisirs: 50 Rue des Archives
  • Matiere Premiere: 12 Rue de Sevigne
  • La Boite a Perles: 194 Rue Saint Denis
  • Fried Freres: 13 Rue de Cairo
  • Le Detail Quitue: 43 Rue Bobillot
  • Gudule: 52 Rue de Richelieu
  • Creez et Decorez: 31 Rue Victor Duruy
  • La Drougerie: Rue de Temple.
  • Vernot wire: 145 Street of the Temple
  • Montplaisir Creation: 15 Street of the Fountains of the Temple, Blgd C, 3rd floor.

These shops and warehouses will carry an assortment of glass and stone beads, pearls, findings, buttons and trimmings. Some you might find boring, but some you will find very exciting. Fried Freres on Cairo St is a very exciting shop. The Fried brothers started off in Vienna, Austria in 1894 as young 20 year olds, and soon moved to Paris to be in the heart of the fashion industry. They had offices in London and Gablonz during the height of their business, but today there is only the Paris location.
Their main focus is German and Czech glass beads, but we found an enormous section of old steel cuts and French seed beads, including charlotte cuts. They have a nice museum of beautiful steel cut tapestries and purses on display, and is worth visiting.
To visit their website, go to

Another shop that could be exciting but we found very frustrating was La Drougerie on the Rue de Temple. This was a small shop with a U shape of glass counters inside, and all the bead samples are on sample cards under the counters. You have to be able to communicate with the sales people(in French) and look at the sample cards, then choose the beads to have pulled down from shelves in the back. The store was crowded, we didn’t feel confident about trying to speak to a sales clerk and maybe just waste their time, it just seemed such a complicated way of buying beads. But they had a huge selection of what looked like great old German glass beads.

The Flea market that most people think of when they do think Paris flea markets is the Le Marche aux puces de Saint Ouen, or more commonly Le Puces. There are three main flea markets in Paris; Porte de Vanves, Porte de Montreuil and Le Puces in Saint Ouen.

Le Puces was inaugurated in 1885, and currently has over 2000 shops selling everything imaginable.

Le Puces is easy to get to – by metro take line 4- exit Porte de Clingnoncourt, and walk 2 blocks north past very busy shops and small flea markets, until you reach the Marche Vernaison market.
Another choice is line 13 – exit Garibaldi station.

Marche Vernaison Flea Market:

There you will find row after row of small narrow alleys with roll up door storage shed like buildings. These are the shops of the flea market- and you are about to enter a wonderworld of antiques and stuff!

The bead store is on alley 1, stand 3. When you stumble upon it, you will see tables filled with wonderful vintage Lucite beads made in France, and tables of vintage German glass beads, and tables of vintage French and Belgium seed beads and steel cuts. When finally you look up from the array of beads to catch your breath, you will meet the owners of the bead shop, a lovely old couple in their 80’s who don’t speak a word of English. But don’t despair, because all their neighbors in the surrounding booths were more than willing to come and help them when we shut down the place to buy almost half the inventory on display. The beads are loose in small bins on the tables, and you buy by the scoop. Under the tables are boxes filled with beads. Overhead were hanks and strands of beads. This is an amazingly wonderful bead store.

Also within the le Puces flea market, in the Malassis market, is another bead shop – Les Perles d’ Anton – on 142 Rue des Rosiers, stand 30. They have a phone # 01 40 10 95 49 and email:

Within the flea market you will find not only beads but antique beaded items – steel cut purses, dresses, trim, lace, you name it. Plan on spending the weekend there, you will need all the time you can spare to see even a small section of it.

The flea market is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 7am to 7pm.


Wild Things Beads  ~  P.O. Box 356  ~  Browns Valley, CA 95918  ~  Tel: (530) 743-1339

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