Bastille Day was also the day that Montreuil-sur-Mer, a gorgeous little gem of a town in the Pas-de-Calais region held its annual antiques brocante. Every Bastille Day the town hosts an antique fair – dealers and professional buyers converge on the town and local residents open their garages and attics to the general public.
On this day you’ll find wealthy Parisians haggling over the price of a 300 year old chaise or a fabulously ornate mantle clock for their chichi Marais apartment; antiques loving tourists from the UK and Belgium (Montreuil is less than an hour from Calais and not much more than an hour from the Belgian border) and French bargain seekers from all over the country.
The whole town is pedestrianised from early morning to late afternoon but there’s plenty of parking space available just outside the main inner area and by the train station at the bottom of the hill and if you buy a big piece you can get the stall holder to reserve it for you and return later in the day with your vehicle to collect it.
Set against the magnificent backdrop of the town squares, ancient houses and buildings, wonderful flower displays and the huge Gothic style church in the centre – this is one of my favourite brocantes in the whole of the region (and I’ve been to plenty!).
This year the wet weather that seems to have settled on the northern half of France did little to dampen the spirits and stall holders prepared for the worst with canvas and big umbrellas whilst local houses set up stall in their garages and courtyards.
There was so much that tempted me – I’d have had to hire a lorry to cart it all home if I’d had the money to buy it.
In the end I went for kitchenalia items mostly as that’s the room we’ll be doing up soon. I got a lovely huge iron ladle about a metre long for €15 and a butter pat paddle for €2 that I’ll antique up myself! I also found a nice little Peugeot made coffee grinder, some great tins (including a huge cylinder shaped coffee tin from the ‘50s), bottles and jars – all of which will eventually find their way onto shelves and nooks and crannies in the kitchen.