Flea markets in France are a way of life, they are not just about bagging a bargain…
A trip to a brocante, vide grenier, braderie or marché de puces as they are called in France delivers more than just a deal, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the French culture, meet people and join in a social tradition that is one of the most popular in France…
On weekends from February to November flea markets will be held in the streets of cities, towns and tiny villages the length and breadth of France. Some feature stalls from professional dealers like the annual Bastille Day Antiques brocante at Montreuil-sur-Mer in Pas de Calais, but the majority are people who empty out their attics and cellars and offer their unwanted household items up for sale to be reloved all over again in a new home.
Some of the top items you’ll find at brocantes everywhere include old French linen, monogrammed table cloths and sheets, crocheted bedspreads, toile throws and lace items. You’ll generally find a great range of glass bottles, wrought ironwork artefacts, old windows, mirrors, catering goods from old cafés and hotels – in fact the choice of items is vast at the French flea markets.
Lively and vibrant, many of the best flea markets in France are colourful affairs. Sometimes there will be a band or display of talent from local youngsters and groups. You will find there is nearly always street food of some sort from the ubiquitous chicken rotisserie to hamburgers, chips (with everything in France!) and paella.
Popular with interior designers, the items that can be found at flea markets can add authenticity, individuality and a touch of je ne sais quoi to a room’s look… Paris has several famous flea markets and it isn’t unusual to spot celebrities and famous designers rolling up their sleeves to have a good rummage for that special piece.
More unusual items can be found too, like this rather realistic head in a box below! One of the best and certainly the biggest flea market in Europe is held in the north of France in Lille. The famous Braderie de Lille features around 10,000 stalls and runs for the first weekend in September from the Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon – all through the night!
If you want to try your hand at finding something unique at a flea market in France check out this article on how to find out what’s on and where all over France: How to find a flea market anywhere in France
Amiens in Picardy holds two major flea market a year, called a “rederie“, they are held in April and October, with thousands of stalls, they are great for a spot of antiquing in France (More about Amiens Flea Markets)
If you’ve ever wondered what the French do with all those flea market finds – here’s a kitchen filled with fabulous bric-a-brac from brocantes:
More on flea markets of France
How to find a flea market in France
Useful vocabulary for going to a flea market in France