Thursday, December 6, 2012

French Vintage Venues

Hello!This is Marmen from French Attic Finds.  After hearing about your thrifting adventures, estate sales and yard sales, I thought I'd take a moment and tell you how vintage sales are run here in France.

Project Sarafan on Etsy
There are basically three ways to shop for vintage treasures in France:
1. The Marché aux Puces
2. The Brocante
3. The Vide-Greniers

The Marché aux Puces is a flea market.  They are fixed events which usually happen on Sundays in larger cities.  The most famous Marché aux Puces is, of course in Paris - the Saint-Ouen.  Here you can find a variety of beautiful french antiquities and quality vintage goods to decorate your french country farmhouse.  But beware the prices!  A trip to a good Marché aux Puces is a feast for the eyes, if not the wallet.  Smaller cities also host Marché aux Puces, but they are generally a mix of new goods and old, much like a bazzar.  Make sure to come early if you want to get the good deals.

Vide-grenier in the village streets.
The Brocante is a sale organized by a community or an organization.  It caters mostly to professional vendors.  Professional vendors pay income tax as well as a fixed percentage of their earnings to the french state.  Their goods are hand picked and of very good quality.  If you have a decent budget, you can find some real gems.  Everything from wrought iron garden furniture to delicate porcelain, from old linen to antique books... basically a treasured trove of goods all in one place.  Usually held in a hall or in an open outdoor space, the Brocante is sometimes a paying event, and a small fee can be asked of visitors.  Bartering is acceptable, but beware the brocanteurs legendary tongue.  They can get be quite snippy if you ask them for a discount the wrong way.

Typical wares.
And now the third and by far my favorite, the Vide-Grenier.  Ahhhh, how I love a good vide-grenier.  Almost always held on Sundays, the vide-greniers, or attic sale, is organized by a village and allows all the villagers to empty out their cupboards, garages and yes, sometimes attics.  French law allows non-professional sellers to participate in two Vide-Greniers a year.  Usually held in the town square or on the church parking lot, the Vide-Grenier can boast 50-300 vendors.  There is usually a mix of pro and amateur, and you want to get there early because the pros are usually up at the crack of dawn with their flashlights, hunting out the good deals.  There are still some really great finds to be found, even though internet has done a lot of harm by giving people a sometimes unrealistic idea of what their items are worth.  Most of my treasure hunting is done at vide-greniers, and on a good day I usually have my husband and my kids help me carry my booty to the car :)  Bargaining is the norm, and the french love telling about an item's history and background.

LeFrench Shop on Etsy
So whether you prefer to just browse and let your eyes wander over the beauty of the professional vendors tables, or whether you like getting right in there and digging through boxes of old books or linen, there is something for everyone in a french vintage sale.  Your budget is the only limiting factor.  The only down side being that these sales don't happen during the winter months, so  I now have to wait for March to get my buying fix.  So if you are planning a trip to France, chose your month wisely ;)
Cab Art Vintage on Etsy

Hope that gives you a better idea of what it is like to buy (and sell) vintage in France!

Merci, and a bientot!

Odd and Old on Etsy



Niftic Vintage said...

You have taken me away Marmen...some day I hope to visit and wonder the streets! Simply wonderful!

Miss Magpies Shoppe said...

Oh, this is simply wonderful, Marmen! I so much enjoyed this blog post, thank you for writing it! I would love to hear more sometimes :)

Soellbinderie said...

Wonderful article Marmen, thank you! I also love the vide-greniers and lucky for me my in-laws do too and keep an eye out for books and other items for me.

gazaboo said...

Marmen, thanks for making my coffee break a mini adventure. Fabulous read, beautifully written. All the more reason to visit France.

Whimzy Thyme said...

Wow --- Fantastic! I was in Paris about 8 years ago and went the the huge Paris flea market or Marché aux Puces. It was fabulous. I purchased a little dragonfly necklace which I will treasure forever.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I so appreciate you. I hope one day I get to go back to beautiful France.

odd and old said...

nostalgic pour moi!
lived in northern france near lille for 10 years
now living in spain where the sun shines brighter...
only things i miss about france: friends/cheese/marche aux puces/vide grenier/brocantes
{and depot ventes]...
bon chance mes amies bis
x ... ***
et merci beaucoup pour 'le shout'

ProjectSarafan said...

Wow Marmen, that's a whole little guide for vintge shopping in France you have here! Thank you so much for putting this together!

Egle said...

This is very special! Wonderful post! Thank you, Marmen!

Wicked Darling said...

Marmen!! This is fabulous!! Thanks so much for sharing this!! I want to hop on a plane and visit!! :)

BeeJayKay said...

Great post! I am salivating! I want to go to these sales!!

CabArtVintage said...

Oh Fantastic Marmen !! I was in Marché aux puces de Saint Ouen last week and my wallet stay in my pocket ;)) all is soooo expensive , you are right ;)
Thank you sooo much for the feature !!
PS : In south France there is vide grenier all over the year ;))
Come and visit us ;))))

Vera Vague said...

having lived in the south (and north) of france for a spell, i can say this feels like going back for a visit!
thanks for including Vera Vague here!

HilltopTimes said...

I want a ticket to France! This post is lovely! Thank you, Marmen!

Lydia McCauley said...

Marmen, I just love this! I was in Provence last year and enjoyed snooping around the markets. It was a bit intimidating as I don't speak French. Lucky, lucky you!

Shelley said...

Fantastic and informative! I would so love to go to each of these!!

Modred Vintage said...

Someday I would love to join you! Great informative post.

Andrea Holding said...

Loved reading this! I am now surrounded by a cloud of nostalgia and must plan a trip to get out of it! Thanks!

Tracy Mcdaniel said...

So interesting & informative!! Thanks for the insight to the French way of thrifting!

Story Tellers Vintage said...

Wow, sounds like there's a market for everyone in France! Someday I'll meet you there :)

Anathalia said...

What a fantastic post! Now all I want is to go to France! ;)

Jaime @ Hound Dog Digs said...

LOVE this trip through French markets! I want to go!!!

CakeNumber9 said...

Marmen, just loved to read this!
I am allways curious about how vintage is in other countries.
I wish i had the time and the budget to grab a plain and go to those amazing places, your french vintage world! :)
All the best for you, looking forward more posts like this :)

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