For the vintage lover there’s nothing better than strolling through through a summer brocante, stalls spilling out onto the streets with every imaginable item. Some are bargains, some are not, but the pleasure is definitely in the seeking.
There are no rules about what the discerning buyer should look for, the only rule is to buy for yourself. Chose something that you love and want to live with, and that you can easily get home.
Shopping French Flea Markets Style
If you’re on a buying mission to find something definitively French remember that just because it’s for sale in a brocante it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily French. As a dealer specialising in French items I’ve been approached on several occasions by people hoping to sell items to me, who have made this mistake. “But I bought it in France!” they exclaim. I have to point out that there are generations of expats living in France and when they relocate they tend to take their possessions with them. Eventually some of those items will end up in the hands of dealers.
If you want to create a true French vintage vibe there are certain things that you can make a point of looking for. It’s best to enhance your home with a few choice items and French chalkware is a great purchase. Prices range greatly, so it’s easy to pick up a bargain. Don’t worry about wear and damage, it all adds to the charm.
Religious chalkware figures are very sought after and some of the larger pieces can be incredibly beautiful. Religious iconography is very fashionable at the moment and France is great place to find individual and striking pieces.
Another great purchase is antique lighting. With different wiring, most French chandeliers and wall lights won’t work in the UK. You can pay to have your items re-wired professionally when you get home or simply use candles in place of bulbs. Wall sconces make terrific candle holders and newer vintage, rather than antique pieces, can be found at bargain prices.
Other items to look for include soupieres (great for storing keys etc as well as serving food!), copperware pans are hugely decorative and look terrific hanging in a kitchen, small mirrors – large may be difficult to get home in one piece
Finally, vintage luggage, particularly anything with original travel labels is often great value. Not perhaps that practical for today’s traveller, vintage French suitcases do however make for eye catching storage.
More on Brocantes in France
How to find an antique shop or flea market where ever you are in France
The biggest flea market in Europe!