A origin of the term "Flea Market" is a mystery that has never been solved. Probably because there's never been a serious investigation into the origins. While little or no official records exist concerning this incredible phenomenon known as the "flea market," there are two conflicting stories about a location in Paris, France in the 1860's known as the marche aux puces, translation, "Flea Market".
Albert LaFarge wrote in an article entitled: "What is a Flea Market?" in the 1998 winter edition of Today's Flea Market magazine. LaFarge says, "There is a general agreement that the term "Flea Market" is a literal translation of the French marche aux puces, an outdoor bazaar in Paris, France, named after those pesky little parasites of the order Siphonaptera (or "wingless bloodsucker") that infested the upholstery of old furniture brought out for sale."
Story number two is printed in the book "Flea Markets in Europe" published by Chartwell Books. The author writes in the introduction, "In the time of Emperor Napoleon III, the imperial architect Haussmann made plans for the broad, straight boulevards with rows of square houses in the center of Paris, along which army divisions could march with much pompous noise. The plans forced many dealers in second-hand goods to flee their old dwellings; the alleys and slums were demolished. These dislodged merchants were, however, allowed to continue selling their wares undisturbed right in the north of Paris, just outside of the former fort, in front of the gate Porte de Clignancourt. The first stalls were erected in about 1860. The gathering together of all these exiles from the slums of Paris was soon given the name "Marche aux Puces", meaning "flee market", later translation."
Whichever story you choose, one thing is true for everyone... we ALL love a good FLEA MARKET!