Dear Diva Readers,
ach fall and spring you hear me wax on about the famed Foire Nationale à la Brocante et au Jambon in the Parisian suburb of ile de Chatou, but I fear I’ve been neglecting my duties. While I love the National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham, I have 2 other Parisian brocantes – traveling flea markets – that also get my blood pumping with the same degree of diva fever – and you’re in luck, they’re on soon in Paris!
Top 3 Paris Brocantes:
1) Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambon (next dates 23 Sep-2 Oct 2011)
2) Antiquities Brocante at Place de Bastille (THIS WEEK May 19-29, 2011 and Nov 4-13, 2011)
3) Antiquities Brocante at St Sulpice (Next Month: June 8-19, 2011)
That’s right – one of my all time favorite markets is on RIGHT NOW in PARIS – The Antiquities Brocante at Place de Bastille is THIS WEEK May 19-29, 2011! If you’re in the city of light, you’d best get shopping!!! To find out all the diva details read my column “Ask The Antiques Diva” in the Bonjour Paris newsletter to find out what sorts of treasures you’ll find at the 480+ vendors selling at this fair!
And should you miss this event, have no fear! Mark your calendar for the fall when the fair is back again this Nov 4-13, 2011!
And speaking of marking your calendar, next month on one of the chicest squares in town – the Place St Sulpice (of Da Vinci Code fame) – there will be a smaller but oh-so-lovely flea market fair with about 110 vendors selling perfect pieces from Paris from June 8-19th. An antique dealer friend (who shall remain nameless lest I give all his secrets away) swears by this fair as his source for the best items in his store – plus, he claims that he’s rubbed shoulders on more than one occasion with the squares most famous resident, Madame Catherine Deneuve, whose penthouse apartment overlooks the fair!
Now readers, I have one question for you – Do you have any favorite Brocantes in Paris?? If so, share the details!!!
The Antiques Diva®
If you are not a serious bargain shopper, do not bother reading any further.
I like Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Loubouton as much as the rest of you, but in fact, I hate to spend money on clothes. I’d rather spend my euro on antiques and on travel, thus, I shop only a few times a year and always buy bottom-dollar on sale. I save the Hermes, Chanel and Dior purchases as presents from my husband – putting in requests years in advance on “major wants” so that I have time to drop continual hints until he picks up on it and eventually returns home with little blue sacks and the like.
In today’s blog I’m going to take you on a tour of my favorite stores in Paris – in fact, I’m going to walk you through the very route I shop twice a year at the Paris sales. Not only that, but I’m also going to fess up, showing some of my most sensational buys. I might play the diva on the internet, but I was a “recessionista before the recession was cool”. You can blame it on my CFO-husband if you like – he’s all about the numbers, budgeting and the like – but truth be told, even without his ever-present spreadsheet, I love nothing more than a bargain! I have dozens of cocktails dresses, but would you believe I’ve purchased one of those dazzling dresses for as low as 15 Euro, marked down from 300 Euro, at the Paris sales?
And of course, while I’m out shopping for bargain fashion, I always tend to find myself stumbling into antique shops, decorating stores and specialty boutiques… They don’t call me The Antiques Diva™ for nothing, after all.
So set back, fasten your seat belt and get ready to
The Antiques Diva Exclusive Bargain Shopping Paris’ Les Soldes
When: Day One – The Paris Sales
Repeat Route: Last Week Paris Sales
8.30 am Chez Paul – Corner Rue de Buci and Rue de Seine. I take a seat and order a café crème and les escargot at Chez Paul. No, I didn’t order snails for breakfast; Paul merely affectionately calls their pain au raisin “snails”. Study Paris 6eme arrondisment map. Review shopping “needs and wants list”. Verify pin codes for all credit cards. Confirm appropriate attire in place for shopping day – today it’s leggings, a tank top and long cashmere wrap that pulls off in one motion allowing me to stand in the aforementioned, trying on clothes in the middle of the store when the lines for the dressing rooms are too long. I’m ready for action.
9.00 am – Get waitress’ attention, “l’addition, s’il vous plait”.
9.30 am – Attempt repeatedly to flag down waitress. Waitress expertly ignores my pleas. Eventually lets me pay my bill and I remind myself that I’ve made my first mistake of the day: bring correct change next time. I walk out the door and across street to O & Co at #28 Rue de Buci. They often don’t do “les soldes” but I pick up some Mandarin Orange Olive Oil and soap even though they are not on sale. Second mistake of the day: only shop for sales. Time is money. And using time to shop for non-sale items isn’t maximizing my day. I’d best get better.
9.45 am – Meander back towards Paul, past the line out the front door, and past the flower market and café where my mom sat next to Karl Lagerfeld. I walk towards end of Rue de Buci to Allison at # 3.
9.55 am – I wait at the door for the store to unlock at 10am. Store clerk sees me and 4 other ladies lingering and she takes pity on us, opening the door early. My favorite brands are all on sale at Allison – Antiek Batik, Maje, See by Chloé and Paul & Joe. For the sales they mark clothes down with dots, everything with green dot 50E, blue dot 75E, red dot 100E, black dot 150E etc… I walk past all these dots at the front of the tiny store and work my way to the back of the store. Along the far wall they usually post their serious sales here.
Would you believe I bought this dress below for only 15E at Allison? Marked down from 300E – granted the price was majorly inflated to begin with, but at 15E I would have been stupid not to have bought it. In fact, my friend The Swiss Miss bought the same dress at the same time!
And this one for only 30E? Marked down from 150E
Both dresses were purchased at Allison several summers apart! Don’t I look young in this last picture? I was in my late 20’s! My how time flies!
10.30 am – Cross the street (Rue de Buci) to Taschen Book Store and check out the sale table sitting outside for calendars as well as travel, decorating and art books. I stock up on hosting presents.
10.45 am – Turn right from Rue de Buci onto Rue de l’Ancienne Comedie (but before doing so, I jog back to the left on Rue Mazarine to peek into some art gallery windows). To relieve guilt of any further spending which is about to commence, I go to # 3 Café Coton and pick up a f
ew French-cuff dress shirts for my husband. He looks dazzling in French blue.
11.05 am – Duty fulfilled, I walk down a few doors to # 7 and hit Rene Derhy for casual prêt a porter and brightly colored summer dresses. Another bargain scored! I picked this sweet casual summer sundress ½ price for 35E.
Of course, an even better Rene Derhy purchase was this cocktail dress down from 130E to 40E.
11.20 am – From Rue de l’Ancienne Comedie, I cross Boulevard St. Germain to Rue de Conde and turn right onto Rue St. Sulpice. First stop, # 23 Marie Mercie, a husband and wife hat-making team that sells off-the-rack and haute couture hats that are simply to die for. Women’s hats (not on sale) will set you back a hefty 180E, while men’s hats run 100E. Even if I’m not in the market to buy a new hat, I go inside and dream, wishing I had more occasions when I could wear a hat.
This hat I didn’t buy at Marie Mercie, but instead picked up almost 7 years ago in Provence. I paid 30E at the time and it’s served me well.
Noon – “Les Soldes” are too serious and time is too precious to stop for lunch. The breakfast escargots have long since been burned up by the power shopping and now I’m looking for a vendor selling “hot dog on baguette with horseradish”. I chuckle to myself over how it sounds like I said “oat dog” instead of hot dog when I pronounce the word in French.
I continue back to St Sulpice – Resume Tour.
Whilst eating my hot dog lunch, I pause in the square in front of Eglise Saint Sulpice to admire church now of DaVinci Code fame. I search the crowds for Catherine Deneuve exiting her apartment overlooking the square.
She, like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, is one of my style icons. Sexy, glamorous, and classic!
From the Place St Sulpice I follow Vieux Colombier towards Rue de Sevres, turn left passing bizarre statue of man-horse at Carrefour de Croix Rouge. I’ve always meant to stop and read the plaque, but there is no time for that today.
12.30 pm I window shop my way down Rue de Sevre towards Le Bon Marche, stopping at # 22, Furla offers excellent handbag sales.
13.00 hours – I hit Le Bon Marche. It’s my favorite Paris department store, this store built by Gustave Eiffel of Tower fame. While Galleries Lafayette and Printemps are larger, I’m a Left Bank Girl. Admittedly, the sales aren’t as good at Bon Marche as at the aforementioned, but over the years, I’ve scored some excellent purchases. Take, for example, this pink linen dress originally 180E bought for 75% off – a mere 45E. Another 20-something picture of me!
14.00 hours – Exit Le Bon Marche onto the Rue de Bac, crossing the street to enter Le Grand Epicerie (Le Bon Marche’s grocery store) to pick up a few picnic essentials to eat under the trees in a small park overlooking the Eiffel Tower. WG and I love sneaking picnics of foie gras and chocolate, champagne and strawberries when we’re in Paris.
14.30 hours – I begin walking from Bon Marche down the Rue de Bac towards Boulevard St Germain, zigzagging across the street to hit # 101 Magna Carta and on corner of Rue de Varene an excellent linen store Diners en Ville. On the opposite side of road, I watch for # 122 Farman Aviation Antiques to seek out a present for my husband who is hobby pilot. Then off to #116 Le Grand Comptoir, picking up cute accessories for my home at bargain-bin prices and to #108 A La Mine d’Argent for all my silver needs. Then it’s time for the gorgeous home decorating store at #104 Blanc d’Ivoire and at # 100 Du Bout du Monde with its eclectic finds.
One of my favorite Bout du Monde purchases was this star-shaped candle-holder on sale for 12E.
That was a Le Cedre Rouge (#116 Rue de Bac) half price purchase for 120E– it barely fit in the backseat of our Volvo when we drove it home from Paris to Amsterdam! Remind me to tell you later about the evolution of this bench from a seat on my roof-top terrace to front center seating in my living room! In fact, if you look at the 4th picture down in this blog of me standing in the door way of my Holland home, over my left shoulder you’ll see this find in its “before” state!
16.00 hours – Turn right from Rue de Bac onto Boulevard St. Germain, shopping in the direction of Eglise St Germain. Hit Fragonard at #196 for perfume and travel accessories, wonderful hosting presents and birthday packages and then Gerard Darel at #174 – keeping my eyes peeled for the 75% off stickers! When shopping the sales one day with Lady Lotus, I found a black silk skirt with a 150E multi-colored butterfly print skirt on sale for 38E. Sadly, though I wear it often, I can’t find a photo of myself in it.
18.00 hours – Exhausted, I stop for a glass of rosé wine at Les Deux Magots. Text my husband from my mobile. “Missing u. Join me 4 drink?” which is code for “I have too many sacks to carry on my own.” I sit, people-watching, believing if I sit here long enough, I watch all the world walk by.
Bonne Shopping and Bonne Chance scoring “les bon marches”!
The Antiques Diva™
(seen right with Le Financier of today’s shopping expedition!)
Follow The Antiques Diva on Twitter!!
When I first thought that it might be a nice idea to post a blog on “What to wear in Paris…” I thought, “Who better to deliver the message than La Parisian – La Mom?”
If you haven’t heard of “La Mom” let me first tell you…. You don’t have to be part of the “kiddy-set” to enjoy her posts. La Mom is an American expat who has been living in Paris’ 16th arrondissement for over a decade. She spends her days raising kids and her nights blogging about the French and the English-speaking expat world. Before setting down to her blog, I always pour myself a coup de champagne, kick off my high-heels and settle down for some juicy fun! Check out La Mom blog for the real deal about Parisian playdate protocol, snooty book clubs, and charming French foibles. La Mom’s your best friend in Paris minus the international phone bills!
Chic That Thing in Paris – La Mom’s 7 Tips For Parisianista Style
1. Get a Gerard Darel handbag
Don’t even think of leaving your Parisian apartment without your Darel! GD’s bags are all you need to go from day to night, from a Parc Monceau playdate to a Mom’s Night Out at L’Avenue. These bags can do double duty as diaper and evening bags. (Psst – chic Parisiennes discovered Gerard’s bags way before Eva Longoriaista did!)
2. Invest in a pair of Roger Vivier ballerina flats
If Jackie O, Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Catherine Deneuve (the essence of Parisian chic) wear them – you should too. Or get a good imitation. They’re nothing less than jewelry for your feet. Best of all, they don’t pinch, pull, or give you blisters. Perfect for hoofing it to find the real antique deals with the Antiques Diva!
3. Go to H & M for the basics
Don’t want to spend a fortune on tops that will be out of style in six months? Then stock up on several trendy and affordable styles here. Even the most snooty Parisienne knows how to mix high and low fashion. Further proof that cheap can be chic!
4. Wear an unforgettable accessory
A chunky pearl necklace, a Celine or Chloé belt, an oversized Lalique crystal cocktail ring…nothing makes a statement like something simple yet unforgettable.
5. Don’t forget the scarf
Brrr…there’s a chill in the air when it’s time for France’s best antique fairs and brocantes! Lucky for us, nothing finishes an outfit like an eye-catching scarf. Whether it’s silk, cashmere, or knit, make sure it’s long enough to casually loop around your neck for a glamorous, “I just threw this on” Parisian look.
6. Buy a great pair of jeans
Yves Saint Laurent said it best, “I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.” No matter what your budget, the Galeries Lafayette Jeans Bar has a great selection of jeans for everyone. You’ll be sure to find the pair that fit like a glove and make you feel like a million euros!
7. Go “Au Naturel”
Absolutely no perms, no fake acrylic nails, no war paint, no peroxide blond hair allowed. Parisiennes have mastered the old adage “Less is more”.
(and don’t forget: you can find out my true identity when you book a 4 day Diva tour in Paris!)