The Rastro Market in Madrid

The centuries old Rastro Market in Madrid is Spain’s most famous outdoor market. Whatever it is you are looking for you can find amongst the numerous stalls, the hustle and bustle of the hawkers and visitors and the numerous antique shops surrounding the area.

The origin of the name of the Rastro Market  is an interesting one. Centuries ago the area  was occupied by various tanneries close to the abbatoir, when the dead animals were dragged to from the abbatoir to the tanneries they left a trail of blood or a rastro, hence the name.

Rastro in MadridThe Rastro occurs every Sunday and public holiday in the Embajadores neighbourhood between the Cascorro Square and Ribera de Curtidors. From early in the morning until three in the afternoon the 3.500 stall holders set out their wares inviting visitors to buy or find that elusive bargain. The Rastro has often been compared with famous markets like the Encants Market in Barcelona or Portobello in London, but to tell the truth it has its own special character.

Rastro Market in Madrid At the Rastro Market in Madrid you can find a number of new and second hand articles, among them antique watches, perfumes, hand made jewellery, oil paintings, ceramics, comics, pet food, hammocks, plants, books both new and used, vintage clothing, musical instruments and many more things.

The best time to go is early in the morning, avoiding the crowds and getting in first on some great deals. After spending the morning wandering the market the best option is to stay in the neighbourhood enjoying some great tapas and beers and soaking up the atmosphere of Madrid.

Where: Calle Ribera de Curtidors and surrounds.

When: Sunday’s and Public Holidays 9am-3pm

Getting There: Metro L5, La Latina Station. L1 Embajadores Station 

Barcelona’s Flea Market “Els Encants Vells”

Touted as being one of the oldest markets in Europe “Els Encants Vells” is15,000 square metres of organised chaos, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday stall holders begin to occupy the carefully marked out parcels and put their wares out for display.

And what an assortment of wares there are, you can find everything you need and everything you might never need. Do you need a cowbell, bicycle pump or an old couch well if you do then “Els Encants”, is the place to go?

The origin of many of the stall holders goods is somewhat suspect, some found in the rubbish, , it maybe the estate of a deceased person without heirs, some of it may even be stolen. Wherever it comes from there is something for everyone. Popular amongst students looking to furnish their house with a comfortable old couch or fill that ugly space on the wall with an even uglier painting “Els Encants” attracts a crowd as eclectic as the wares on sale.

It is the perfect place to spend a Saturday moring rummaging through the piles of videos, clothes, electrical goods looking for a bargain. Whilst quality antiques are difficult to find at “Els Encants” sometimes there is a bargain just waiting to be found amongst the plethora of goods on offer.

The best thing about wandering around this sprawling market is observing the other shoppers, elderly ladies clutching their bags tightly to their sides so as to dissuade pickpockets, hipsters sorting through piles of clothes and bric-a-brac looking for their latest model dress, 80’s sunglasses or ridiculous hat, the person of dubious character who sidles up to you trying to offload some “genuine” perfume or jewellery and  the cries of the gypsy women as they tout their wares “mantas pa sofares”, “2×1” and “muy bonito muy bonito” all adding to the atmosphere of the market.

Soon the market will be moving to a new site and it is sure to lose some of its charm in the move. Get down to “Els Encants” before the move to see a different side of Barcelona, who knows you may even come away with a unique souvenir.

Where: Plaça de les Glories Catalanes, Barcelona

Metro: L1 Glories and L2 encants

When: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 9am-6pm

Fairs and markets in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires’ markets are not just about shopping. As well as being able to trade in almost every type of good, the markets of Buenos Aires are a vibrant, vital source of entertainment in this whirlwind city; a place where you can interact with different types of people, watch the human landscape and even see a tango performance. Here’s our guide.

san-telmo-market San Telmo’s Antiques Fair is possibly the country’s best-known market. This charmingly decadent trading place contains all kinds of curiosity, including original Argentinean art, old heirlooms and food. You’ll find a lot of treasure mixed in with the inevitable trash. Tango performances are very popular here, and go on until late at night. The more permanent Mercado San Telmo in the same district (Defensa, 961) is open all week long, until 7 pm. Plaza Dorrego. Open until 5 pm on Sundays.

feria-recoleta-buenos-aires The Recoleta Fair (“Feria Artesanal”) is open until 6 pm on weekends. This is a great place to find high-quality, artisanal produce, including ceramics, silver and leather goods. The price-quality ratio is good, and this is another excellent place to see some live street performances and even live music. Plaza Francia. Weekends from 11 am to 8 pm.

feria-plaza-serrano The Plaza Serrano Fair (“Plazaleto Jorge Cortazar”) is a great find for hand-made goods with an alternative look. Many of the area’s restaurants pack up their tables to make space for clothes rails, which fill this small fair with modern produce. It’s also close to the Palermo Viejo Fair, which sells various oddities. Plaza Serrano. Weekends, open until early afternoon.

market-buenos-aires-mataderos The Mataderos Fair is a real cultural experience. As well as various craftworks and food stalls, this market is frequented by competing gauchos on horseback and performances by people in traditional dress. Relatively far out into a slightly dodgy suburb of Buenos Aires, this is an unlikely tourist destination but nevertheless a popular one. Av. Lisandro de la Torre and Av. De los Corrales. Sundays from March to December, from 11 am to 8 pm.

There’s many more interesting fairs and markets in Buenos Aires, including the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Fair, the Artesanal Parque Centenario Fair and the La Boca Fair. These are some of the most popular, though – you’ll have to come back again to find out more about the other markets in Buenos Aires.

Vintage shops in London

vintageVintage is in fashion and the crazy fashion cat that is the city of London arguably has something to do with it. The British capital contains a large amount of vintage shops, where you can buy second-hand clothes and accessories and retro style at prices that fit all pockets. There’s loads of different vintage shops in London, but here are a few of them:

Best vintage shops

vintage-shoes Rock Candy – For a slightly more modern type of vintage, a shop where atricles of clothing from the 50s to the beginnings of the 90s are sold. You can find women’s clothes of all kinds here: skirts, blouses, trousers… as well as scarves, bags, belts and other accessories. Last year, this was chosen as the Best New Vintage Shop in the “Vintage Guide to London” prizes. Address: 716 Holloway Road.

Thea Vintage – Located in the ubertrendy are anear Camden market, Thea Vintage has a range of clothing, including both genuine vintage (and designer) pieces and modern retro-look-inspired clothes, too. Thea Vintage aims to be vintage-shopsdifferent and original, but you’ll find some excellent classics here, too. Address: 65 Chatsworth Road.

Vintage Emporium Café – In the fashion hotspot of Brick Lane, you’ll find clothes and accessories that date from the Victorian age to the 50s, but the best bit is the elegant clothing from the 20s. On the top floor, there’s tables and a wide variety of different teas, making this a great way to spend an afternoon in London. Address: 14 Bacon Street, Brick Lane.

Berlin Bread and Butter July 2012

bread-and-butter-fashion For the organisers of the summer Bread and Butter 2012, fashion really is the basic sustenance of their daily existence. Mixing art and business, this cutting-edge fashion trade fair has been held in Berlin, Cologne, Barcelona and finally back in Berlin again, this summer from the 4th to 6th of July.

Highly contemporary, Bread and Butter (also known as “B&B”) represents street and urbanwear styles. Avant-garde but not too weird (or at least, not in a bad way), the clothes you’ll find here have, in previous years, been highly wearable.

The event is designed to give fashion traders and emerging designers a platform to do what they do best: go shopping!

Bread and Butter July 2012 will feature ten different areas:

  • Sport and Street Dock – sports and urban clothing
  • Street fashion – fresh attire for young trendy things
  • Fashion now – feminine fashion
  • Style society – more sophisticated, upmarket styles
  • Denim base – as it says on the tin, denim clothing
  • Treasury – accessories
  • Urban Superior – casualwear with a sporty twist. Men and women’s sections.
  • LOCK Fire Dept. – high-quality, artisanal goods
  • Tempel of denim – more denim deals

Practical information

b&b-2012 Not just anyone is allowed into the B&B trade show. To participate, you must be able to prove you’re related to the industry in some way (for details, click here). It’ll be held in the Airport Berlin-Tempelhof, from the 4th to the 6th of July 2012, from 10am to 7pm (6pm on the Friday).

Just one question remains to be answered: what should I wear?

Guide to shopping in the Marais district, Paris

Paris is famed for its French chic. This year, fashionable Parisians have mostly been wearing trench coats paired with skinny jeans, the eponymous scarf and oodles of je ne sais quoi.

The most obvious places to go shopping in Paris are les Grands Magasins – big department stores featuring well-known names such as the Galeries Lafayette. If you’re looking to mix up your classic French style with something more original, however, there can be no better place to go than the lively district of the Marais. Here, we provide a guide to some of the best shops we’ve found here:

Vintage: Pretty Box

Containing a wide variety of second-hand finds from the 40s to the 80s, Pretty Box is a real Aladdin’s treasure trove of retro finds. Scarfs, luscious prints, paris-shopping-maraisleather jackets, hats and swathes of colour – everything is crammed into this vintage den. Prices aren’t bad either – although possibly more expensive than other vintage shops, goods are often sold at a fraction of their original price. Comprises both women and men’s clothing ranges. 46 Rue de Saintonge.

Designer: Simonne & Lisa B

designer-shop-france On the more reasonable end of the designer scale, Simonne & Lisa B features unique pieces from up-and-coming designers from all over the world. You’ll find one-of-a-kind women’s clothing here made to an impeccable standard, and for more reasonable prices than you’d get from more established designers. 19 Rue de Poitou.

Concept: Merci

paris-concept-store Built in a former wallpaper factory warehouse, you could easily believe you were at a friend’s house. A very sophisticated friend. And one who also ran a fashion, home and flower shop and café/second-hand book outfit. Even better, all profits gained from running the business are sent to a children’s charity in Madagascar, giving you all the more reason to say ‘thanks’ when you collect your purchases from the till. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais.

El Rastro flea market in Madrid


El Rastro, dating back almost five centuries, comprises the most famous open-air flea market in Madrid. Held every Sunday and public holiday throughout the year, visitors and locals alike will find anything and everything they need on the many stalls there and the various antique shops that surround the area.

El Rastro is located in the Barrio de Embajadores, along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores, and the some 3,500 stalls start setting up in the early hours of the morning to open at 9pm for the hardcore bargain hunters amongst you. It has been compared with other famous European markets including Portobello in London and Els Encants in Barcelona.


A wide variety of new and used products can be found including antique watches, perfume, costume jewellery, watercolour/oil paintings, pottery, plants, old utensils, lamps, antiques, plumbing parts, books, used and new clothes, blankets, natural stones, craftwork items, musical instruments, incense, fans, candles, cosmetics, vinyl records, bags, IT accessories, comics, car parts and pet food, amongst many other items.

In addition, the stall vendors come from all over the world to offer you a wide variety of international goods. So, now you know. Whatever you’re looking for you’ll find it at El Rastro fleamarket in Madrid. Where: C/Ribera de Curtidores. (Between Plaza de Cascorro & Ronda de Toledo). When: 9am to 2pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Transport: Metro La Latina. Price: Free.