When it comes to style, we all know the French have it and, what’s more, they’ve always had it. Nothing epitomises that unique French style in quite the same way as their homes and gardens. Whether you are a true connoisseur of French antiques or simply a devotee of the classic French “shabby chic” style, France, with its cornucopia of exterior and interior designs, will quickly fill your senses and empty your pockets like no other.
Giving yourself the opportunity to browse and appreciate French antiquities can be the absolute highlight of a trip to France.
It can plunge you into a lively encounter with everyday French culture, it can offer an exciting way to spend a few hours and it can give you the chance to pick up a unique item for your home or add to your collection.
Whatever your motives: browsing or buying, no trip to France would be complete without this unique opportunity to get to the very heart of French life.
Whether you are an antique lover, a bric-a-brac seeker or a bargain hunter, you will find hundreds of barns, small shops, fairs and village sales full of antiques, offering everything you could possibly want to find.
France is bursting with opportunities to browse and buy throughout the year and both our properties are situated in areas awash with them.
There are so many outlets selling French items that it can be quite confusing. Here is a list of the main types you will come across:
This is akin to the “garage sale”, many villages hold them, especially from May to September, for locals to empty their attics, cellars and barns. Items range from tiny pieces of delicate china to large pieces of oak furniture. These are the places to find the really great bargains as professionals are generally not allowed to sell here.
This is essentially a shop where people leave objects and fix a selling price. Once the item is sold, the owner of the Dépôt takes a commission.
This is a mélange of antiques fair and flea market, generally held on Sundays throughout France. From May to September you will have the choice of a dozen different brocantes within easy driving distance.
If you want to grab the best bargains and have the widest choice, get an early night, bring flasks of coffee and get there at 6am when the brocanteurs are setting up!
FOIRE AUX PUCES
This is the traditional French flea market. You have a very good chance of finding absolute bargains here.
SALON DES ANTIQUITAIRES
This is an antiques fair organised by professional dealers. They are set up in advance on fair grounds and take place a few times a year. An entrance fee is often charged. Although prices are not competitive compared with the other types of venue, the quality is often superior and the dealers generally talk with authority on the pieces they are offering.
SALLE DE VENTE
This is an auction house. The auction will be set up a few days before the event so that interested parties can view the lots. Just make sure you have a good grasp of French numbers before you bid!
This is a French charity, similar to the Salvation Army, created by Abbé Pierre to help homeless people find shelter and work. The charity has depots all over France where they collect everything that people no longer want and sell them. You can find everything here and, although you may have to wade through a lot of kitsch, the treasure you are seeking may be waiting for you.
Whichever type of outlet you prefer, it’s possible to find everything under the sun. Some venues tend to feature certain items but there will be plenty of other categories on sale nonetheless. You will always find an abundance of items for your home and garden, including furniture, soft furnishings, kitchenalia, books, wall hangings, glassware, ceramics and collectors’ items.
Most items will be priced but you may have to enquire with the vendor on occasions. The one thing to bear in mind is that the prices advertised are invitations to treat. That means you are free (and indeed encouraged) to bargain.
Don’t insult the vendor by offering a paltry sum but, at the same time, don’t be afraid to make a reasonable offer – that’s what the vendors expect.
One point worth bearing in mind is that if the discount isn’t offered quickly, there probably isn’t one to be had and further pushing will be fruitless.
It isn’t hard to find any of these venues nearby. Driving around the local countryside will reveal plenty makeshift signs advertising events – most villages hold them during the summer months. Do remember though – the best antiques are sold quickly so get there early if you want the best pieces.
The bi-monthly magazine campagne décoration is the bible of French style.
It is a beautifully produced magazine with sumptuous photographs of French-inspired interiors and exteriors.
You will find a myriad of ideas that will help you transform your home.
You will find past editions of the magazine at both La Poste des Gardes and Longère Louise.
You will also find books on antiques, furnishings and classic French style to whet your appetites before you venture out.
There are several websites that will help you locate sales at different types of venues throughout the region and they are well worth researching before your buying spree:
These will give you all the current information on what can be found in our area and are well worth checking out.
DO VISIT THEIR SITES FOR UP TO DATE INFORMATION ON ALL TYPES OF SALES THROUGHOUT OUR REGION AND A SNEAK PEEK THROUGH THE PAGES OF THIS BEAUTIFUL MAGAZINE