April Showers Bring May…. Brocantes!

Antiques Diva Paris Brocante and Paris Flea Market Tours

Tips for Shopping at Paris Brocantes 

Antiques Diva guide Jennifer BalmadierToday’s post is by Jennifer Balmadier, one of our Paris Diva Guides. She is a native to Boston, however she traveled to France most of her life helping her parents shop for their antique store. On one trip while attending a French friend’s wedding, the fates aligned and she met the Frenchman she would marry… You’ll have to have her tell you how if it weren’t for her mother-in-law, she might have married a French Duke instead! Utterly smitten, Jennifer gave up her career in insurance in Boston and moved to Paris for love. Her life story is romance on a plate. Once living in Paris she returned to her roots, sniffing through flea markets finding trinkets and treasures helping to buy for her parents, doing personal shopping which led to her becoming a Diva Guide. Her particular passion is vintage fashion (she got her first Hermès when she was 13 years old!) and she knows every vintage Chanel shop in town! She’s also wonderfully down to earth and has a dry humor that will have you laughing before you even hit the shops. She loves nothing more than sharing with Diva clients the ins & outs of Paris, teaching them the metro, telling them where to go to shop, wine or dine (or not) and letting clients know inside details on life in Paris… Details you can only learn from a local!

Café aut lait bowls and French fabric, frills and buttons found at Paris brocantes.

April Showers Bring May… Brocantes!

Warmer temperatures bring all sorts of nice things to Paris: blooming window boxes, crowded terraces and our favorite at AD&Co Headquarters, brocante season! A brocante is a one-day or short-term flea market that pops up in neighborhoods around Paris (and the rest of France). Longer days and sunny skies are the perfect combination to start the day with a walk around a weekend brocante. Whether you are just browsing or want to do some serious damage, you will find the Parisians out in force. If early mornings aren’t your thing, most of the brocantes stay open until 7:00 pm making the perfect segue into apéritif hour at your favorite local terrace.

Check out https://vide-greniers.org/75-Paris and http://brocabrac.fr/Vide-greniers-75 for a comprehensive list. In French, but you can search by date and district. Just keep in mind that a vide-grenier is more like a garage sale, and a brocante will have mostly professional dealers. The city also has a clear website with some brocante information:  http://quefaire.paris.fr/brocantes.

Check out https://vide-greniers.org/75-Paris and http://brocabrac.fr/Vide-greniers-75 for a comprehensive list. In French, but you can search by date and district. Just keep in mind that a vide grenier is more like a garage sale, and a brocante will have mostly professional dealers. The city also has a clear website with some brocante information:  http://quefaire.paris.fr/brocantes.

 

Paris brocantes, flea markets, and vide greniers                              Bric a brac and books at Paris brocantes.

Tips for Shopping Paris Flea Markets and the Local Brocantes

  • It is easy to forget the exact size of that space you need to fill, bring photos and measurements of anything specific that you have in mind. If you’re booking a tour – sending photos to your Diva Guide in advance of items that you like or are looking for is very helpful on a tour.
  • It is easy to forget the exact size of that space you need to fill, bring photos and measurements of anything specific that you have in mind. If you’re booking a tour – sending photos to your Diva Guide in advance of items that you like or are looking for is very helpful on a tour. 
  • Dress comfortably and don’t advertise that you are a (wealthy) tourist. It can rain on and off, even with a sunny sky, so always have your sunglasses and a travel umbrella handy. 
  • As logic dictates, arriving at a brocante at the start of the show will get you the best selection but dealers might be more willing to bargain if you go as they are packing up. 
  • Cash is king and brings you greater negotiating power, but occasionally vendors will take credit cards. Considering splitting a purchase between cash and credit for a better deal on larger items.  
  • Most things aren’t marked so it is always okay to ask the price. Just don’t start to negotiate if you aren’t sure you want the item as it is considered bad form. 
  • Always ask before taking pictures, whether to show your spouse for approval or for your scrapbook. It is a sign of respect to the dealer. 
  • If you are shipping things home (and don’t forget about our new Antiques Diva In-House Shipping ) you can arrange for the shipper to pay the dealers so no money changes hands when you are shopping. This old-fashioned custom also means that you “own” the item, even though no money has changed hands.
  • Buying an extra suitcase and paying extra to send it on the plane with you can be a decent way to get purchases home.
  • You might think you will remember the exact location of that vendor you wanted to go back to, but after awhile things start to look the same. Ask the dealer for their carte de visite. Usually they will offer to write a description of the item for you on this business card. 
  • If you want to remember the history and details of your purchase, ask the dealer to write it down.  This can also come in handy at customs. 
  • Reproduction is not always a nasty word. Many French reproductions date back to Napoleon III based on styles from earlier periods, still making them true antiques. 
  • Last but not least, buy what you love. For many things the value is how much you love it

Paris brocantes, flea markets, and vide greniersBonne Shopping! 

Toma – The Antiques Diva® 

SignUp for Antiques Diva Blogs
Never miss the latest Diva post!
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
We respect your privacy, and never SPAM! Read our Privacy Policy here.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

3 thoughts on “April Showers Bring May…. Brocantes!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.