Emily Gaudichon can take you on a tour to the best brocante spots in Paris!
Guest: Emily Gaudichon
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I’m not exactly sure of the origins of all the differing types of brocante markets in France, but it seems that most regions have little antique markets or at least a brocante stall on weekends in the summer. Some brocante fairs are huge whereas others are mostly like a small car-boot sale, but gorgeous antique finds can be found regardless.
I chatted recently with the wonderful Emily Gaudichon about one of her topics of expertise which is brocante in Paris. Emily actually hosts tours to the two main brocante markets she recommends in Paris: Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt and also Foire de Chatou. Emily also took me through the various types of brocante as well as her top tips for brocante searching and purchasing in France:
Types of brocante markets
1. Vide-Grenier – this term means literally “empty attic”. Here you will find people’s stuff they want to clear out. Sometimes there will be bargains as the seller may just want to be rid of the item or not know what it is worth. There is a Vide-Grenier website to see what is happening for the upcoming weekend.
2. Brocante marché – established such as Clignancourt
3. Brocante marché – temporary but on every weekend such as Vanves.
4. Brocante fair – once or twice annually such as Foire de Chatou.
Emily’s top tips
**Get in early to the temporary style markets if you want the best items and possible bargains.
**If you want to haggle, carry cash. It’s very difficult to haggle when using a credit card!
**If you really want an item, do not put it down. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! If it’s not for you, returning it to the shelf if fine before departing, but once your precious brocante piece is picked up by someone else, it is off limits!
Brocante in country France
If you’re considering travelling to regional France specifically for a brocante market experience, I suggest doing a search for what brocante is available for the region you’re heading to. If the geographical area is flexible, do a web search for the best brocante places in country France for sites such as “Flea Market Insiders“. It is important also to check with the local tourist bureau even if you’ve done a web search as post COVID, there may be changes to the arrangements in previous years. You don’t want to make plans to go to a particular village and stay there specifically for a brocante market only to find that it is no longer there! Or the dates have changed!
I know there are some places in France that have brocante as the focus of the village all year round like L’Isle Sur La Sorgue in Provence near Avignon which has amazing antique and bric-a-brac stores. When I visited there I found that there are not necessarily bargains in such a town but you will definitely find something to take home to remind you of your time in France.
One market I haven’t been to but is definitely on my list to visit is the Braderie de Lille which is enormous, ranked as the largest in Europe. On the first weekend of September in the centre of Lille in northern France, around 10,000 sellers fill the streets covering around 100kms.
The origins of this massive marché de la brocante in Lille go back to 1127 when the original market was founded. In the middle ages servants of the rich were allowed to sell their owner’s old clothes and their general stuff that wasn’t wanted anymore. In 1523 the fair was given fixed dates: 2 days at the end of August/beginning of September. Now literally millions of people descend on the city for both the moules frites it is famous for as well as the antiques!
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