One of the things I do before any trip to France is check out the schedule for Brocante fairs. Brocante is a term for those items that are not qualified as antiques, some people call it “junk,” but it’s still one step above a vide-grenier, which is the clean out the attic kind of sale. You never know what you’ll find at a brocante, but you can usually be assured that the prices will be reasonable. Brocantes are held all over Paris (and throughout France) during the warm months, and often times it’s a great way to spend several hours in the afternoon, browsing all of the merchandise. On Monday, there was a Brocante held along the Seine, just below the beautiful bridge Alexandre III. My travel partners were still asleep, so I left for the brocante alone in the mid-morning. It was in fact the second day of the event, but on Easter Sunday we were outside of Paris with a car, so no time to stop here. This area is actually part of the “port de Paris” and is home to hundreds of houseboats. More on the port later, now we are going to shop~
Sometimes it’s great to browse for hours on end, but today, I was on a mission to check out the prices and find that diamond in the rough that usually awaits me at a brocante. And since I was by myself, I was able to zip through the stalls and assess prices and merchandise pretty fast, which is how I like to shop. I found these nice sconces, and the tie-backs or embrasses as they are called. Remember those ones I passed up at Emmaus in Beaune for 3 Euros? Shoulda bought them, because these tie-backs were 45 Euros each and no better than the ones in Beaune~
Lots of pretty jewelry, Lacroix and mostly Parisian designers~
All of this is my shopping in order of how I saw it; a pretty rabbit, a covered dish; I have one like it in Beaune, but passed on this one~
Or perhaps a pheasant?
There was crystal and glassware galore, but this does not travel well….but it was all pretty, and reasonably priced~
I really loved this collection of 1920’s female figures; some a little risque, but how about the bathing beauty in the red suit, in mid-stroke; these were really cute~
It’s hard to show in photos just how much “stuff” there is on offer at these shows; there are tables and tables laden with all kinds of quasi-antiques~
Many Parisians like to shop the brocantes to find the odd piece of porcelain to complete their collection or replace a broken serving dish~
As always, there were lots of chickens~
And lots of little treasures such as rosaries and religious medals and such, protected under glass; you have to ask to see them~
If you need to build your silverware collection for large parties, this is a great way to do it. These look excellent in a container holding a massive amount of silver flatware for a buffet. Count on about 45-60 Euros (up to about $80) for each one of these sets of 12. That’s more than I would pay in Beaune; you have to know your prices, but of course it’s easier to get to Paris than to shop the less-expensive places in the country, and you can have bragging rights every time you use them that they came from Paris~
Brocantes are also a great place to track down missing pieces like chandelier pendants. Bring a decanter that is missing a stopper and you are sure to find a table like this~
You’ll also find many other “French” things, such as these “favors” or feves, which are placed in seasonal cakes like the traditional gallete du Roi for Epiphany; whoever finds the feve gets to wear the crown. The old ones are porcelain, the new ones are plastic.
You’ll find a wide variety of subjects; here are three I picked out; a cow, a paysan, and a very old porcelain swaddled baby, there are all kinds of feves~
And speaking of porcelain, there are all kinds here, such as vintage door knobs or poignees~
And bronze and brass-looking hardware here~
There were very few linens, none for me, but I liked how the vendeuse here was dressed, in hat, fur and gloves~
And then there was yet more glassware~
My eyes start to glaze over after awhile~
I was really tempted by these six cake forks for their coral-colored handles and vermeil tines, but I passed, as six is not enough~
Yes, indeed, by then I had already found my treasure, which was so dirty that when it was washed I hardly recognized it. A 19th century soupiere, to go with the others I own. This is not as old and not as fancy as the others, but it is very pretty, has no chips or damage, and I “need” one in Laguna.
There is slight wear to one acanthus leaf handle, but it is old and marked on the bottom and has the other 19th C details that tell me its age.
The top is very pretty!! And best of all, it was only 50 Euros, or about $65, which I think is a pretty fair price. And it will forever be my Parisian Soupiere.
I love it, and will use it for soups, mussels, chocolate mousse and other dishes. Now I just have to figure out how to get it home in my carry-on without damaging it. It was given to me by the vendor in two of the flimsiest plastic bags I have ever seen, that I would hardly use to tote carrots home let alone a porcelain serving dish. It was carefully cradled on my walk home and cleaned up. It is indeed pristine and very white.
Next up, shopping on the Champs-Elysees. You’ll love that too; I sure did~