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.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Lancieux is a pretty seaside village in northern Brittany, and the Sunday before last it had a nice big annual brocante. It has an old church whose bells started ringing when I was right next to it. Boy do you ever HEAR those bells! They're big thick metal bells, and you can watch them swinging in the belfry when they're ringing.
"Welcome to Paris", the pretty sign says. Except, it's not. Paris is what I'm getting away from.
Does the distinguished-looking guy who once commissioned his portrait know that it's now hanging off the side of a truck?
Would you trust the police that drove this car to win a car chase? Would you trust the ambulance next to it?
What is this mannequin? A child with boobs? An adolescent? A miniature woman? It somewhat disturbs me and I can't quite figure out why.
This picture is here for no other reason than I think this doorway is way cool. It might be the doorway to the village cemetary, or it might be the doorway to some rich person's villa.
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.