Saint-Eustache flea market proves that bigger isn’t always better

Photo by (TBA)

There’s more trash than treasure at the province’s largest flea market.

When the weather outside isn’t yet too frightful, there are little ways more delightful to spend an afternoon than perusing for knick-knacks at a flea market. The best ones offer rows upon rows of vintage jewelry, old postcards, records in their original sleeves, first edition copies of dusty old books, artisan crafts— veritable treasure troves for those of us with hoarder tendencies. While Montreal is an incredible city in many ways, our flea market game is, as it turns out, slightly lacking.

Scattered around the city and its outskirts are several small flea markets — the St-Michel market on Crémazie Boulevard, which has tons of vintage finds, and the always quaint Finnegan’s Market in Hudson, are two worth mentioning.

Photo by Sara Baron-Goodman

Itching for a kitschy pick-me-up of greater proportions, I ventured out to the Saint-Eustache flea market last Saturday. With a drive-in theatre in the parking lot and indoor and outdoor pavilions, the Saint-Eustache flea market boasts being the biggest one of its kind in Quebec.

The first few rows of stalls, set up along the perimeter of the sprawling pavement lot, carried items that could best be described as dollar-store-gone-wrong. The smell of cheap plastic was overpowering as I made my way between the tables piled high with neon underwear (featuring a classy motif of sperm swimming in the crotch area), glittery keychains, and cheap sunglasses. At this end, the market was basically an outdoor bargain store, with stalls selling everything from plastic-wrapped mattresses to holographic posters where from one angle you see a tiger, and from the other, a pornographic print.

Moving in to the centre, the selection became more palatable, with several tables featuring consignment items like colourful bobbles and summery frocks.

Even further into the maze of do-dads and thingymijigs were the real treasures—leather albums filled with rare stamp and coin collections, beautiful antique cameras dating as far back as the 1890s, and some pretty china tea cups.

There were some great home furnishing pieces, such as handcrafted wooden cutting boards and bowls that were seductively smooth to the touch, and some antique end tables and chests for fairly reasonable prices.

Photo by Sara Baron-Goodman

The indoor component was essentially a larger scale repeat of the tacky underwear and random gadgets found at the beginning of the market. Lingerie sets (that resembled Halloween costumes more than the Victoria’s Secret variety) hung suspended from the ceilings over bins full of T-shirts and thongs. Alongside these stalls were several open-concept tattoo parlours, a hair salon that exclusively did shaved head designs, a pet supplies store, and a cruddy-looking diner.

Other food options were classic greasy-spoon kiosks located around the lot, serving all your classic fare plus draft beer for $4.

Back outside towards the exit, grocers set up their own stalls selling seasonal fruits and veggies. The produce looked fresh, though it wasn’t farmers’ market quality— rather it seemed to be overstock from the grocery store (as evidenced by the stickers on the fruit).

If you’re in the market for home decor items, the Saint-Eustache flea market is definitely worth a scope-out. However, finding these gems will take quite a bit of digging.

You can get to the Saint-Eustache flea market by taking bus number 8 towards Saint-Eustache from Montmorency metro station. Connect to bus number 91, which leads directly into the flea’s parking lot. The address of the flea market is 455, Avenue Mathers.

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