One of the questions that’s asked all the time is “how do I find a brocante, antique shop, flea market or auction in ‘somewhere’ in France”?
It seems that the French national love of browsing the second hand markets (French: brocantes), flea markets- called marché au puces, braderie, rederie or vide grenier – second hand and antique shops is shared by lots of visitors to France too!
Vintiquing in France
France is the No. 1 tourist destination in the world with more than 70 million visitors per annum. There is much to love and to keep people coming back, gastronomy, landscape, architecture, history, culture, heritage, beaches, the weather. We could go on and on but one thing that is growing ever more popular with visitors is seeking out the second hand markets in France. Every region holds them, usually on a weekend, or perhaps a national holiday. Some are all year round but the majority are held in the spring to autumn months and going to the second hand street markets is a way of life for the French.
It is an opportunity to wander in the fresh air, to meet friends, to enjoy a meal – many of the street markets will lay on food, have a glass of wine or coffee and watch the world go by. Of course there is the lure of finding something beautiful to take home and re-love.
Market sizes range from the tiny with just a few stalls to the enormous such as the Lille Braderie in the north of France with more than 10,000 stall holders!
You’ll find professionals and amateurs at the street markets and you may need to rummage through goods to find something you like – from clothes to china, from furniture to glass ware, from jewellery to paintings.
Essential guide to finding a brocante or flea market where you are living or visiting in France:
1. L’Agenda des Brocantes www.agendadesbrocantes.fr
This little yellow book is one of the most popular calendar of events that everyone in the know refers to. There is a book for each region and it lists by date and village/town name all the second hand markets that will take place in a calendar year. There is lots of helpful information such as a guideline for how many exhibitors there will be and if it is a specialist market such as books, stamps, clothes etc. You can buy them in some supermarkets and tabacs, book shops or order via the internet.
They also have an online guide but it is definitely not as good.
2. www.brocabrac.fr is an excellent site for finding out what’s on in every part of France. It is in French but open it in Google translate to help you (just remember the town names are also translated and that can make for some very odd reading). Key in the postal code for your area and choose the date range to search for local brocantes.
3. Local newspapers will have details of brocantes and some town halls will advertise them, ask your neighbours and hosts too for details of the best ones in the area.
4. Check the website for the local tourist office. Some are great and have all the information clearly presented – others not so – it’s a bit hit and miss but a good starting point.
More on Brocantes and flea markets in France
How to find Antiques and second hand markets in Paris all year round
Vintage Couture in Paris
Best flea markets in France
Lille Braderie – the biggest flea market in Europe