Whether you live in France or are on holiday, if there's a brocante going on in the village it's worth a visit. You'll either find you a bargain très charmant or laugh at the absurd items for sale but either way it will give you a slice of real French life.
As a rule of thumb a brocante is normally for the sale of second hand furniture or antiques. A Vide Grenier (empty attic) is like a British boot sale. A Bric-a-Brac Sale will be for knick-knacks of lower value. Increasingly, however, the line is becoming blurred with both brocantes and vide greniers selling all manner of furniture, antiques, jewellery, ceramics, linen, lace, records and tools. A good place to find one of these events is on brocabrac.fr or vide-greniers.org. and follow the links for your area. Unlike British boot sales the French ones will go on for most of the day and there are always bargains to be had. It’s a wonderful way to treasure hunt. To see what it’s like from the other side of the table read on.
"It’s still dark…..my mouth is like the bottom of a budgie’s cage. Why oh why do we do this?
5:45 am and we’re on our way to a brocante/vide grenier in South Charante. My wife’s head is bent
double in the car, as if in prayer, but in truth it’s to avoid being decapitated with the 2 metre long
board above her head that will be our table for the next 10 hours or so.
"We arrive at the site to be greeted by the normal field of chaos. The organisers have laid a line of
string along the field to indicate where we should park (several people have already tripped base
over apex on the string. Hey Ho, no health and safety here!
"And then out comes the organisers tape measure. 'Cinq mètres monsieur?' 'Oui,' I respond (entre nous,
when he has left this expands to six metres as do all of the other exposants. Like blossoming flowers
spreading there petals.
"By 7:00am our table is groaning with goodies for sale. Then come the traders: 'Have you got any
jewellery, records, silver, 60's, key rings or life size scale model of the Titanic?'
"Time now for a café and pain au chocolat. The budgie's cage tongue is now placated and I can greet
the day with enthusiasm.
Just a few rules:
1. Always take plenty of plastic bags
2. Have plenty of change ( your first sale will be 50 cents and you will be presented
with 50 euros!)
3. There will always be a foot spa for sale at every Brocante/ VideGrenier.
"The Sun is now in it’s zenith and we’ve done well. Time for lunch (usual 2hr affair). If your Brocante
has ‘Restauration sur place’ don’t forget to get a ticket first and expect culinary chaos.
Après déjeuner business remains brisk and the wine seems to have loosened the buyers’ wallets.
As the day wears on it slows to a trickle of potential buyers, so out comes the packing material to be
ready for a fast exit. This is when those in the know pounce on you expecting you to sell the Louis
15 th Armoire for 1 Euro (Well you don’t want to take it home with you? Do you?..... yes.)
And that’s it. A successful day.
Till next time…..bonne chance et à la prochaine fois."