Shopping, Eating and Exploring

Come along with me and discover some off-the beaten paths in Southwest France

Monday, June 29, 2009

Antiques, Brocante, Bibelots, Bric-a-brac.....

One of the major reasons I was drawn to make France my home, at least part time, is the antiques, brocante, bibelots and bric-a-brac. Not to mention the vide greniers. Let me explain....I think everyone knows what an antique is, but brocante translates to "used household goods", bibelot is a trinket or curio, bric-a-brac is, well bric-a-brac, bits and pieces. Vide grenier is the French equivalent of a garage sale, literally, "empty the attic". I shop all of these venues, and occasionally the vente aux encheres, or auctions. Where is the best place to shop? That depends on your stamina, and time.

France has magizines that can be purchased at any "presse" that will list all of the sales taking place over the next 30 days. They also list those sales that occur every week, and monthly. Is it necessary to get to the show at the crack of dawn? My husband thinks so, and we have arrived BEFORE the vendors on many occasions. My advice, if you go when it is still dark, bring a flashlight. Bring a bag, wear comfortable shoes, a hat (for rain or sun) hand wipes, measuring tape. If your French isn't good, a pencil and paper is helpful for writing prices when you are bargining. Don't insult vendors. Admire a piece, but you can say "tres cher pour moi", if it's too expensive. Or offer what you think it is worth. I have found, when I ask for their best price, they often come up with a price below what I was willing to pay.

Other, obvious pieces of advice. Save the nice clothes and jewlry for the Ritz. Try a little French, people always appreciate the effort, and you might make a new friend. Over the years we have developed some nice friendships with brocanters. They love "client habitul" just like I do, here at home.

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