This is my little blog about all the wonderful and quirky stuff I see while hanging out at different flea markets and thrift stores in France.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Le Vésinet is one of the wealthiest towns in all of France! So how could I miss this street sale? There were booths set up all around the church and radiating out into the streets surrounding it. There were a lot of professional dealers, and the "regular folks" selling their crap adjusted their prices in keeping with the local real estate, i.e. ever upwards. All this under the probing eye of the gargoyles carved into many of the building on the main square.
I met a woman seller with fantastic prices who I'd bought a vast amount of kids clothes from last year. Sadly, most of her high-end boutique stuff was gone by the time I found her. However, she remembered me and I remembered her, and we exchanged phone numbers so that she could sell me her clothes directly next year, instead of selling them on the street. I'm very happy about that. Go me!
I like the blue guitar. You don't see blue ones very often, do you?
And this is a bakery window display. I think the theme might be Tour de France, as it's that time of year again, but then there are motorcycles and vintage cars in the display too, so it's anybody's guess. It is very pretty though.
This is a vintage ad for egg cognac, so cognac presumably made with eggs. Eew.
On my way from the parking lot I crossed paths with a Yorkshire Terrier named Shit. It's pronounced "sheet" and is the local pronunciation of the English word shit, and is also slang for marijuana. Don't say I never taught you any vocabulary. I don't know which meaning precisely Shit was named after, but from my conversation with his mistress it's definitely one or the other. This is a picture of Shit the Dog, who happily rides in a steel cage on wheels, and probably has a perfect doggy life, gets to sleep a lot and never needs to worry about a thing, ever.
I'm an American mother of 3. I've been living in the suburbs of Paris for 15 years. Visiting thrift stores and flea markets is my passion!
French antiques are beautiful, but they're not my thing. I can't afford them anyway! What I'm interested in are the weird or offbeat items you can only find at an open air market or in a thrift store. If there's an item you're interested in looking for, let me know!
Where can you get vintage and other secondhand items in France?
First, there are flea markets (marché aux puces), which are similar in nature to their US equivalents; professional sellers have a stand on a regular basis and sell their wares there.
There are no individual garage sales in France, but it is very common for towns to hold a once-yearly brocante - a huge group garage sale where people get a yard or two of selling space and sell whatever they want. You can find professional sellers at these events, and also lots of everyday people getting rid of their stuff. There are usually 100 to 500 stands at a brocante. When the overwhelming majority of sellers are non-professionals emptying the contents of their attics and basements, this is called a "vide-greniers" (literally, attic emptying!). There are treasures to be found at all of these!
Brocantes often take place in small towns and villages. Usually the town blocks off a few of the main streets and sellers set up their tables there. Often the setting is superbly picturesque, along centuries-old winding streets. They start at the crack of dawn, so be prepared to get up early! But all is not lost. Towards the end of the day prices drop dramatically and there are still some great bargains to be had.
Thrift stores are not as numerous in France as they are in the US. They are dusty and the customer buying experience, shall we say, is not a priority. But you can find clothes, sometimes gorgeous vintage ones, for a euro or two, and some great vintage and antique glassware, porcelain and decorative items. Some thrift stores are expensive, some are not.