Treasure hunting in French Brocante and Vide-Greniers

Whilst in France last month I spent some time visiting different brocante (antiques fairs/flea market) and ‘Vide Greniers’ (literally translates as empty attic – think house clearance meets car boot sale) in the Dordogne region.

We visited a fantastic ‘Vide Grenier’ running alongside the Vézère River.  The ‘Vide Grenier’ took over the whole village where every nook and cranny had a blanket with wares displayed, every road full of tables piled high of nick knacks and curiosities.  Where the Brocantes are often filled with provincial dealers the ‘Vide Grenier’ feels much more casual with itinerant traders, families and individuals from the village opening make shift stalls.  

The great thing I felt about the ‘Vide Grenier’ was that the whole village/town took part – all the restaurants and bars were buzzing and the atmosphere was so enjoyable and welcoming.  We also had the most fantastic 3-course lunch in the middle of our browsing!

It felt like everything under the sun was available to buy as long as it was second-hand. There was plenty of knick-knacks and even broken china but the weathered/broken-in furniture, vintage books, and antique linens were catching everyone eye.  

There really was something for everyone and plenty in-between (otherwise known as junk!).

Some tips

Get to the fairs as early as you can

Have a good rummage, as the items aren’t always displayed well

Don’t be scared to bargain/haggle

Having change really help’s – particularly when negotiating a price

Bring a bag to carry your purchases

Make sure it fits in your car – rarely is there a delivery service
Don’t assume the sellers will speak English

We thoroughly enjoyed the ambience and came home with a couple of little treasures of our own. The aluminium tins with brass name plates were in a shocking state when we found them but they cleaned up beautifully (thank you DH!)

Gorgeous glass Martini decanter – not very old but looks great


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4 Comments

  1. August 17, 2011 / 7:03 am

    Great tips here for going to a "Vide" especially about taking change with you. My hubby wanted to buy someting for 2 euros and asked the vendor if she had change for 50 euros.
    She replied "you can have the whole stall for that"!!

  2. August 17, 2011 / 7:12 am

    So true, even breaking a 10 euro note was a hassle at one stall let alone a 50! We did watch a couple trying to shoe horn a chair into their citroen which made us chuckle – the fact they had two kids in tow seemed to have slipped their mind. I imagined the kids strapped to the roof of the car

  3. November 3, 2011 / 2:46 pm

    Love the post! Can't wait to see what other treasures you find. I'm a fellow BYW student and I have subscribed in order to follow future posts!
    Best,
    Heidi

  4. November 10, 2011 / 1:44 pm

    Oh Heidi thank you for stopping by hasn't #byw been inspiring? Your site is put together so uniquely – wow – rare to find these days. Can't wait to see more of your writing

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