Custard Factory Flea Market Q & A:
Where is the Custard Factory Flea Market?
At The Custard Factory! Okay, seriously it’s at Gibb Square in Birmingham, England.
Maybe I should back up. I don’t know Birmingham very well – what is The Custard Factory?
The Custard Factory is Birmingham’s revolutionary new arts and media quarter. Built 100 years ago it is now home to a hive of young creative companies, galleries, fine artists, independent shops and terrific restaurants. One of Birmingham’s biggest nightclubs and a number of renowned live music venues are located here. All are part of a vigorous working community that knows how to party too! The bohemian Custard Factory Flea Market is dedicated to bringing Birmingham shoppers truly rare, wonderful special items.
When is it held?
Every Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm
What types of items are for sale?
The Custard Factory Flea Market specializes in vintage, art and the previously unobtainable. With a fascinating range of clothes, jewellery, literature, collectables and cuisines, The Custard Factory Flea Market is a new opportunity to shop for those rare and magical items that will never be found on a High Street.
Stalls range from the bizarre to the truly wonderful. Japanese baby clothes, vintage and handmade garments, rare records, original photography and art, crepe suzettes, pottery, kitsch collectables and homemade fudge are a small taste of what’s available.
Would out of town visitors be interested in coming?
Absolutely! Area hotels such as The Best Western even offer special packages for market goers!
Sounds great! Anything else we should know?
Yes – Come! It’s a great day for the whole family! Check out this You Tube Video to get a feel for the market.
Salon d’Antiques Brocante Place de la Bastille
Daily November 6-16
Paris, Place de la Bastille
11am – 7pm
At Bastille my favorite purchase was my first armoire, discovered at the Spring show, and leading to a 7 year association with the vendor, Monsieur and Madame Nakhechkerian (The business is listed in the wife’s name – Mme Florence Mallion-Nakhechkerian – contact +31.(0)18.104.22.168.73) who became one of my personal favorites (partly because I spoke with him only in French for the first 4 years I knew him, and then discovered he spoke English! He told me my French was fine, which, in the Spring of 1998, I assure you was NOT!) In addition to being so kind and patient with me during my first purchase from him, he invited us to his home in the country to see how it was restored, all the beautiful furnishings he and his wife had found and restored (he went into antiques restoration with his father-in-law, so it was a long-term, well-established business.) He visited our home several times to help us with our purchases: he modified one armoire so that it could easily hold our TV, but then be restored to original state; another armoire he added a coat bar so that it could serve as our entry coat closet. After a guest left a wet glass on our buffet and I got a restoration quote of 900 Euro from another restorer, he came by, pulled out his handy can of wood wax, painted over the spot and voila! The spot was gone. The name of his miracle furniture wax: Pate Duqay Rustique Moyen (my preferred shade) found at the Clingancourt flea markets, 92, rue des Rosiers.
1 bottle of inexpensive, but drinkable, red wine
1 small plastic cup filled with granulated light brown sugar
1 small plastic cup filled with orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
Heat until bubbly, stirring well, serve and enjoy!
The fall session of La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambon takes place between September 26 – Oct 5, 2008. Over 800 vendors from “toute de France” come to the Parisian suburb of Chatou for 10 divalicious days, selling the best antiques and gourmet ham products in France.
Read what The Antiques Diva™ has to say about the history of this flea market in this Expatica article – Bringing Home The Bacon and Antiques Too!
If you haven’t booked your airline tickets to visit Chatou, it’s not too late to take advantage of the Air France special discount for Jambon Lovers! You’ll receive a 25-45% discount when flying to Paris until Oct 11, 2008. Mention discount code 04367AF when reserving.
Dear Ms. Antiques Diva,
I have a question I hope you can help me with. The show dates for the Chatou March Brocante are widely available. Every year, however, finding the dates for the Chatou Fall show is difficult. If you know the dates for the 2008 September/October Chatou show, I would appreciate knowing them.
I hope to hear from you!
Ms. DZ from La Crosse, Wisconsin
Dear Ms. DZ,
I am happy to oblige and I agree that the autumn dates are a tad elusive. At present, they are not even posted on the fair’s own website, but you came to the right source. I hope you’ll soon be booking an Air France flight to gaie Paris! Say what you want about “Paris in the Springtime,” but I, for one, love Paris in the fall! The Foire Nationale de la Brocante et du Jambon will be held September 26 to October 5, 2008. If you’re a professional antique dealer or decorator, don’t forget you can register to come a day early (on Sept 25) before the fair opens to the public. This allows you first dibs and to avoid the crowds whilst rubbing shoulders with other chi-chi professional shoppers on Dealer Day.
Should you reach exasperation at not being able to find out the exact date in the future, you’re always welcome to ask me, The Antiques Diva™. But in the meantime, I’ll let you in on a little trade secret.
One of my best resources for finding a brocante date is a French magazine called Antiquites Brocante. Ms. DZ, you didn’t say in your email if you speak French or not, but if “tu ne parle pas francais”, have no fear! Though this magazine is written in French, anyone who knows how to read a French address and is willing to learn the names of the calendar months can decipher the advertisements and market announcements for the Foires, Marchés et Brocantes. While an article would be too complicated for a beginner, the dates alone are worth their weight in gold.
You can pick up a copy of Antiquites Brocante at virtually any magazine stand in Paris. My favorite magazine vendor happens to be the one in the La Motte Picquet Metro station just before you descend the stairs to take the Line 10. They have a beautiful selection of French decorating maggy’s and tend to be conveniently located on metro treks across the city. I also have spent loads of “louis d’or” on deco magazines at Buci Presse, 4 Rue Grégoire De Tours, in the 6eme, where they sell both English and French publications.
The Antiques Diva ™
Part 1 – Q&A; – Where to Find My Favorite French Flea Markets
Part 2 – My Favorite Flea Market
Part 3 – One Minute Diva – The Foire Nationale…
As Europe is my personal playground, my specialty is recommending fab flea markets and fêtes on this side of the pond. Most often, stateside readers simply must hop a plane and come “play with me” on “the continent” and I like to think that this is what makes me so darn loveable and why you’re all clamoring to read my latest post! That said, though a diva through and through, I also happen to be shockingly pragmatic at times and even I recognize that my stateside readers can’t spend their entire life with jetlag and need someplace more practical (and a tad closer to home than the Paris flea market) to shop for their home décor. For those times when you can’t come to France, then Paris will just have to come to you – in a manner of speaking that is.
Lynn Goldfinger Abram, a San Francisco-based collector and antiques enthusiast, has amassed a wonderful assortment of items – from antique, jeweled crowns that bring out the princess in you, to a vast array of old hotel silver and a virtual treasure trove of well preserved items from the late 1800’s to the mid 20th century. These items make up her online catalogue at the Paris Hotel Boutique. Lynn has a great eye and buys what she thinks will “be in vogue” each season, stocking up on all those yummy things you see on the photo spreads of America’s best decorating magazines. Better yet, her prices seem to be shockingly reasonable. I might just order something myself and have it shipped to me in Europe.
Never fear, my dear European contingent, I haven’t forgotten you!
Bonne Shopping et Au Revoir,
The Antiques Diva ™
The village of Weesp, in the ‘t Gooi region south of Amsterdam, is a chi-chi town with great shopping where you would expect to see the actresses from the popular Dutch soap opera Gooische Vrouwen out and about shopping or dining incognito with their current lover. Last time The Antiques Diva ™ was in Weesp, I was lunching with some ladies from the IWC and I swore I’d come back to hit the shops when I wasn’t so hurried. That day, after a lovely, long, intoxicating lunch along the Vecht, I had to rush off to catch my flight to Santorini and sadly I’ve never found my way back to this charming town.
Now The Maven has given me good reason to high-tale it back to her town! She left me a voice mail this morning informing me that I must come to Weesp this Friday, November 9, 2008 for a “Rommelmarkt” inside the “Grote Kerk”. For my English-speaking comrades, this means I’m going to a rummage sale at the big church in Weesp! While she did admit that there was a bit of trash to be found, she also insisted that there was a huge queue for the assortment of antique treasures. If I know The Maven, she’ll be the first in line, having her pick and leaving the rest of us to sort through what she’s left behind! The Maven promised me that we’ll find not only excellent antiques but also some exceptional bargains!! Needless to say, I’ll be elbowing the other “gooische vrouwen” (wives from the upscale ‘t gooi region south of Amsterdam) aside and pushing my way to the front of the line so that I can gobble up The Maven’s leftovers before someone with bigger sunglasses beats me to it!!
By the way, it’s a pity the show Gooische Vrouwen is only in Dutch, because if it were in English I suspect it’d give Desperate Housewives a serious run for the money.
Ta Ta For Now,
The Antiques Diva™
Roving Reporter La Reine is at it again, asking me to remind all you Chicago Chickies (or simply the Chicago bound) to mark your calendars for Oct 27 – 28, 2007 for the last Chicago Antiques Market of the season! Operating the last Sunday of the month from May – Oct, the CAM is an utterly diva-worthy attraction! Their motto, “New York has Chelsea, London has Portobello and Paris has Clingnancourt, finally Chicago has The Chicago Antiques Market”, has The Antiques Diva ™ considering hopping the next flight to O’hare simply so I can see in person how the CAM compares with these other “Big Boys of the Flea Marketing World”! I want to see why Travel and Leisure magazine calls The Chicago Antiques Market, “one of the top 3 urban flea markets in America.”
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva ™
Roving Reporter La Reine
Your high school French isn’t as rusty as you think it is…. The name of my favorite flea market is indeed “The National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham!” It’s held for 10 days starting next weekend Sept. 28 – Oct. 7 in the Parisian suburb of L’ile de Chatou!
Over 800 vendors from “toute de France” come to Chatou, bringing with them the best assortment of antiques I have ever seen in one locale. Held twice a year – in September and March – this market, like almost all French events, is a Parisian tradition dating back centuries! While I’ve always thought the odd combo of selling pork products and antiques was a great marketing ploy to get reluctant husbands to go “brocanting” with their wives, the origins of this market date back to the “Moyen Age”. During Holy Week, pork butchers from all over France came to Paris to sell their products. One enterprising butcher decided that he wanted to “bring home more bacon”. So he started selling not only smoked ham, but the equipment for making it as well, offering his clients “the taste of Chatou year round!” The other vendors caught on to the idea and each started bringing with them more and more items, focusing on specialties from their region, namely furniture, pottery and antiques. Before they knew it, “a festival celebrating both the flea market and ham was born.”
Now, I’m still not certain how this pre-Easter celebration became a twice annual event. But I have an un-substantiated personal theory. In August, “tout de Paris” departs for their month long vacation. This is another tradition started in the Middle Ages when the stench from the annual cleaning of the Louvre’s moat (which has since been filled in) forced the citizens to flee until the gag reflex-inducing cleaning was over. This is where my part of the theory comes in to play. I believe that when the Parisians fled to the country, they found they enjoyed the country life so much that they didn’t want to return. Paris had to do something to lure them back! So I think they used the “Foire aux Lards” (or Fair of the Fats) – as the festival was then called – as an olfactory pied piper to lure them, salivating, back to the city. While this might smell a little fishy, “that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it”.
What ever reason the festival is now celebrated in the Fall as well as the Spring, The Antiques Diva ™ couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to shop two times a year – and my purse needs the rest time in between to recover from the inevitable damage I do each time I visit the brocante. If you don’t have time to go to Chatou in the next few weeks, you must definitely plan a trip to Paris in March for their next event! As soon as the dates come available, you’ll be the first to know. And once you’ve visited Chatou, you’ll come back and fall at my feet, thanking me for the introduction to what will soon be called “your favorite flea market”.
So, TTFN from me,
The Antiques Diva and Greetings from Lady Lotus!
(seen right, with she and I flanking the table in the garden of the Paris Ritz. La Reine sits to my right and The Colorado and Tampa Girls are in the center)
Dear Antiques Diva –
I almost started crying when I received the invitation to “Chatou” that had been forwarded from our address in France to our new home stateside (sent to me because of my frequent purchases at the fair). What was my husband thinking moving me so far away from the best brocante in the world??? I’m not a huge antique shopper, but for the six years we lived in Paris, I would drop everything when Le Foire Nationale a la Brocante et au Jambon rolled into town.
My home IS Chatou … from the desk I’m sitting at writing this letter (a gorgeous Napoleon III bureau en noyer with black leather top) to the round, marble-topped coffee table where I sat my coffee cup this morning!
I still remember my first time. My friend Roxanne and I took the RER A train 10 miles from Paris Charles de Gaulle station to Chatou-Roissy. We followed the signs to the entrance arriving at a field (3.5 hectares to be exact) of green market tents. I remember thinking that the 40 francs (probably $6 at the time) charged was quite a sum to pay just to go spend more money on stuff I probably wouldn’t like. Well, I’m not sure if it was the smell of smoked ham in the air or the many vendors who answered my poorly-worded novice questions with kindness and smiles, but I fell in love with a 19th century buffet made from cherry wood and walked out feeling richer. Of course, my economist husband pointed out that spending 7,500 francs on it made us poorer, but luckily I couldn’t hear him over the sounds of the piece being delivered into our 16eme arrondissement apartment!
Over the years, I got quite adept at negotiating delivery in the purchase price. That came in handy when I bought a huge cherry wood armoire from the Restauration époque. I know that era isn’t very popular in the antique world, but I absolutely love the simple lines, light colored wood and tiny bronze empire cuffs. The currency had changed by then, so it cost 2,000 euros. Last month, I saw a similar one here in the USA priced at a whopping $10,000.
Of course, I haven’t always bought big stuff. One year I came away with only a silver champagne bucket that was about 50 euros. I hate polishing it, but the decorative lion heads on the side just look superb as they guard my tasty bottles! I also remember another purchase, a small bedside table from the Directoire period that cost 250 euros. As my husband carried it up the escalator at Charles de Gaulle-Paris, the drawer fell out and bounced all the way down the moving staircase. Luckily no one was hurt (other than my husband’s ears as I yelled at him) and the additional dents just made it look even more authentic!
The last time I went to Chatou, I knew we were getting ready to move back to the USA . So, I scouted out four items I liked – two commodes, a round coffee table and rectangular side board. All four items were topped with black and gray St. Anne marble from the 19th and 20th centuries. I returned with my husband so that he could make the final selection, but instead of narrowing it down to one as anticipated, he negotiated with the vendor to sell us all four pieces for roughly 3,000 euros. I think I laughed for three straight days, but I guess that is proof I won’t be the only one of us that is going to miss shopping at Chatou.
Happy hunting to those of you lucky enough to attend this year! I envy you.
Lady Lotus (seen here visiting me in Amsterdam and shopping for vintage fur at Lady Days).
If you have a Chatou Shopping Success Story you’d like to share, please email (and include photos and prices if possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org
With the blog only one week old, The Antiques Diva ™ is already ready to respond to a reader and friend who has posed one of the blog’s first questions. The Sensational Sandy, a British Chicky who divides her life between residences in Holland and Spain, writes:
“I have a question and I am sure you can answer it having lived in France. Is there a French antiques market close enough for us to drive to from Amsterdam for a weekend perusal sometime in September or October when we are back from Spain? We have completed decorating 3 bedrooms in the house in Spain and now the top bedroom and en suite are the last to do. As the room is in the eves of the house and will have a lot of character I want to furnish it with a French theme with bed, bedside cabinet and a small dressing unit either painted white or something ornate and fancy. This will be my girlie-style bedroom, more feminine than the others. Our aim is to get all the house finished before we have the house warming party”.
“Bien sur” Sandy, The Antiques Diva is the right person to answer this question! After 5 years living in Paris I’m quite partial to French antiques and have a pocket full of resources. The most natural response depends upon how far you’re willing to drive and then we need to consider that time is of the essence to make your second home party-ready. One stop shopping would be ideal! Amsterdam to Paris is a 5 hour drive – and it is doable in a long weekend, although admittedly a 5 hour drive is not for the faint of heart. For the best selection of French antiques outside of Provence’s Isle Sur la Sorgue (which even for a die-hard antiquer like myself is simply too far away for a weekend jaunt), you must go to my favorite one-stop antique shopping spot — Marche Aux Puce de St Ouen, commonly called “Clignancourt”. I can almost give you a “Diva Guarantee” that you’ll find everything you’re looking for. Parisian vendors have rounded up an amazing selection of French antiques and presented them in one locale making it possible to furnish an entire house in one weekend of hard-core shopping. The convenience might come with a slightly higher Parisian price tag, but I’ve always had exceptional luck getting the vendors to bargain down into my price range. Should this be your first time to “les puces” then consider hiring a professional guide to get you where you want to go. Parisian friend Rebecca Magniant (and her trusty band of tour guides) at Chic Shopping Paris offer an “Arts and Antique” custom-made tour that is certain to help you maximize your time and find the best bargains! Et, bien sur, tous leurs guides parlent francais et anglais!
If you plan your long weekend getaway just right, you could be in luck. Do Clignancourt one day, then hit my favorite traveling flea market the next. From Sep 28 – Oct 7, 2007 in the Parisian suburb of L’ile de Chatou, you’ll find the Foire Nationale a la Brocante et au Jambon. I’ve made some of my best purchases at the National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham. Also, if your man likes ham as much as mine does, then he’ll be delighted with the wholesome and hearty lunches hocked in the food isle. Come with an empty stomach and a lot of cash and you certainly won’t go home hungry or empty-handed.
Closer to home you’ll find the Belgian flea market town of Tongeren which is a reasonable 2 ½ hour drive from Amsterdam. In my experience, Belgium has the best prices on French antiques in the whole of Europe. A trip to Tongeren tickles my fancy any weekend of the year. Not only do they host each Sunday what is reputedly Europe’s 2nd largest flea market, but the town itself is worth a visit as well. It is the oldest town in Belgium, complete with Roman fortifications and an imposing Gothic church. Add to this charming setting the tons of weekday antique shops which have set up business to accompany the Sunday flea market and you’ve got an antiquer’s euphoria. Since you’re planning to be in Belgium on Sunday anyway, you could come early and also hit Brussels on Saturday for the Place du Sablon Market (upscale but oh so yummy) and the antique shops surrounding the square as well as the other flea market (which occurs daily) in the Place du Jeu de Balle .
Don’t forget to look closer to home, too. While I love taking antiquing weekends away, sometimes what you’ve be
en looking for is right under your nose. A great place to catch a bargain is at the De Zwaan Veilinggebouw (The Swan Auction House) located on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht. Of course, you can always check out Amsterdam’s Antiques District “The Spiegelkwartier” as they’ve a lovely selection of French antiques. Two of my favorite shops are Ria Jong’s and Arphi Antiques & Atelier. Should you have still not found what you’re looking for, don’t lose hope. In December my favorite “secret sale” occurs at Brederode Kunst & Antiek, a private residence most of the year, whose resident twice a year throws open her doors in a fabulous sale of the French treasures she’s been sourcing all year. Get out your pen (for you certainly want to write these dates in permanent ink) and mark your calendar for these Secret Santa dates — December 7, 8 and 9. If you simply can’t wait, Annette Brederode does take appointments. Alas I must bid adieu and I haven’t even gotten around to discussing the decorating which is one of my favorite topics.
Perhaps another time… Until then,
À bientôt et Bonne Shopping!
The Antiques Diva
Marche aux Puce de Saint-Ouen- Clignancourt:
Starts on Friday morning with a small portion of the shops opening their stalls, then gets into full swing at 10am on Sat, Sun and Mon with a crush of tourists, Parisians, & antique dealers. They claim to stay open until 6pm, but I wouldn’t plan on all the stalls staying open for this long.
Directions, Parking, Metro, etc:
In my opinion, driving in Paris is best left to the certifiably insane, however as you’ll be driving from Holland and will be in your car, you can find parking in the roof top Marche Serpette (3 E per hour) with on-site parking attendant or one of the other non-attended parking garages at the end of Rue Paul Bert or a garage between Marche Malassis and Dauphine – however be warned if there is no parking attendant you must have exact change to pay!
My advice to anyone who doesn’t have to drive is to take the metro or a taxi and let the dealers make the deliveries to you! The market is reached via the Metro Line 4 – easily enough the last stop Porte de Clignancourt. When you come up from the depths of the metro and look around, you’ll realize immediately that is this not the Paris postcards are made of and I’m certain it was the inspiration for at least one of Dante’s rings of hell. This is not a good neighborhood to wander around in so hold onto your purse and walk the Avenue Michelet — skip the temptation to walk “the market side of the street” where you will see vendors in makeshift stalls and canopies set up. This is not the flea market. Skip it. It is full of trashy t-shirts, weird lurking men selling stolen cell phones, fake Rolexes, and faux Louis Vuittons.
As you walk under the peripherique on the Avenue Michelet, go straight until you see a sign that says Rue des Rosiers – cross over and enter into the flea market. Many people are surprised to realize that this is the not a flea market of temporary tables, but permanent structures and buildings which house millions of euros of precious merchandise.
Ria Jong Antiquiteiten
Phone: +31 (0)20 62 52 355
Brederode Kunst & Antiek
Phone: +31 (0) 20 6236 236
Hours: Only open 2 times a year – the next dates are Dec 7, 8 and 9th, 2007, from 11:00am – 6:00pm. And by appointment.
Email email@example.com to get on the mailing list for next year.