Finding French Antiques and Vintage Items in France
Decorating Your French Home
Decorating your house, manor or chateau in France can be fun if you know the basics of where to find antiques and vintage items. Finding vintage and antique items is a lot easier and more satisfying in France than in Australia I must honestly say. There are so many more antique and brocante stores and as there is always a market happening somewhere you’ll likely to find just the right piece you’re looking for.
Options to Finding French Antiques and Vintage items
In general the following are your options:
1. Retail antique stores
High-end antique dealers either have their own retail store or have a booth in an upmarket retail gallery.
Markets are a collection of pop up stalls, sometimes at a regular place and on regular date. Markets can specialise in silverware, books and records, furniture etc.
3. Brocante stores (second hand furniture store)
Brocante stores are of a fixed address with second hand furniture, household items, toys, clothing, gardening ornaments and books.
4. Vide Grenier (attic or garage sale)
An occasional market where individuals sell their superfluous furniture, garden equipment, household items or clothing. Can be referred to as a car boot sale also.
I have spent some time looking in high-end antique stores in Paris although I much prefer visiting markets (read our French Summer Markets article), brocante stores and vide greniers and so will cover these in more depth (and markets can be harder to find than stores). The vast array of items always surprises me and honestly it is hard not to walk away with some thing useful, beautiful and just right for our homes. Note that while the term Brocante is usually used for a store of a fixed location, in the guide books I discuss below, the term Brocante is used for markets (that is, the collection of pop-up stalls).
Resources for Finding Markets and Vide Greniers
1. Yearly guide books
Yearly guide books are available at large supermarché (supermarkets) such as Carrefour, Intermarché and E.Leclerc in the magazine section and at newsagents. The two guides I’ve used are L’agenda des Brocantes and Calendrier des Brocantes et Vide-Greniers. Each of these guides has approximately 300 pages each and this only covers the region of Brittany. All the departments within Brittany have separate listings that list in date order from mid January, through to mid January the following year, every event for every day. The new publications come out early January each year. You can see how seriously the French take their markets with these widely produced professional publications. As guides are regional, you will only be able to buy the guide appropriate for the regional you are located in.
If you are looking for a market using these guides:
- get a guide for the region you are in
- find the date you require
- find the towns or villages that have markets on that date
- find the specific markets being held (that is, books, records, post cards, antiques etc)
- then see how many stalls that’ll make up the market.
Each guide also has a website, which has updated information (as the books are printed up to a year in advance), maps and GPS co-ordinates – too easy! This is what I use in conjunction with the guide as I go online to check the information, get the street address to put into my GPS and check out the map for general directions and distances from my location. The websites for the guides are Calendrier des Brocantes et Vide-Greniers and L’agenda des Brocantes.
Local newspapers will list private sales such as a deceased estate or closing down business sales or private attic sales.
3. Posters displayed in village Tabac or general stores
Posters are attached to power poles and also displayed in Tabacs (bars) of upcoming local events including markets so keep an eye out for these.
4. Word of mouth
Sometimes word of mouth is the best way to find out about the hidden Aladdin Caves (as I call them). These are the stores that you can hardly walk around in, they are so stuffed from floor to ceiling with treasures and junk. Usually you’ll find them in a little obscure village – and only after someone’s told you about them.
The internet is best for researching Tourism Office sites. Travel and niche French blogs are a wealth of information and are regularly updated.
Many books cover the subject of markets and fêtes and whilst they are fabulous in giving details for the regular markets that are held regardless of the weather and external circumstances, I find the yearly guide books and their websites much more up to date and informative. Books are more of an inspiration, general guide and enjoyable read for me. My all time favourite market books are Markets of Paris by Dixon Long and Marjorie Williams and Markets of Provence by Marjorie Williams. Check out our resource list below for your own copies.
Useful apps are few and far between for this subject but an excellent one that provides all the information you’ll need is Vide-greniers et Brocantes by Lifestyle. I find it easy to use and intuitive.
To find a market using this App:
- download the app
- tap on the map of France (home page) in the region you require (it will show yellow)
- the upcoming market dates will automatically show for this region
- tap on the market of your choice
- a map will show location of market
- tap on ITINÉRAIRE button to get directions for drive, walk, public transport and ride.
So there you have my guide to finding French antiques and vintage items in France. We also bring back special items we find oursleves and offer them for sale on our Etsy Store AFrenchCollection so check out what we currently have available. Beautiful and authentic French linens, china and ornaments are a great idea for gifts or to add to your own home.
Have fun exploring the markets of France and if you’re planning a trip in the near future check out Hotels Combined for great accommodation prices, pack one of our recommended books and go explore!
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Wishing you fun and success on your french treasure hunts whether it be to an antique store, brocante, market or vide-grenier. I hope you find our recommendations useful and the resources below helpful. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. Please review my disclosure page for more information on my affiliate policy.