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.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Saint Benoit des Ondes
Today, gentle reader, I am doing field work many miles from home to bring you to bring you a constant variety of French flea market experiences. Which means, I'm on vacation! But my thrifting and flea marketing never stops.
Today we went to a seaside town in Brittany, in northwestern France, called Saint Benoît des Ondes. This flea market was beachside, and there were a lot of professional dealers but a good deal of regular people as well. A lot of the stuff was almost right on the beach. Hope a nice high tide doesn't roll in!
As usual, most of the stands were a mishmash of all sorts of stuff, like this one where Jesus and Mary statues fight for space with a big porcelain soccer-ball-weilding pig.
My exciting purchases included two blankets, because it's chilly here, and a bag of socks for my son. The seller of the blanket let me take a picture of his vintage vanity case, which I admired but couldn't afford.
We were a little bit hungry at the end and nothing hits the spot like some candy from the candy stand!
The weather was cloudy but the rain held off. We got hit by a downpour while driving home but the sun came out at the same time and we were treated to this gorgeous rainbow!
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.