We love a good rummage round a flea market, which is one of the reasons we set up a vintage collection on our website.
It’s one of the things we get asked about most often – where we find the best gems, and also if we have any hints or tips on buying at flea markets and second hand fairs.
With that in mind, we thought we’d do a two part blog post this week and next, on those very subjects! This week, we will share our favourite second hand shopping locations, and next week we’ll share some of our hard-learnt hints and tips for scouring the flea markets.
So, here are some of our favourite places to have a good old rummage.
This flea market is open seven days a week and sells everything from vintage furniture to lovely little oddities to quirk up your home. It’s also based in a characterful old Methodist Chapel. Our favourite find here were a set of old apothecary bottles, lots with really beautiful, aged labels still attached.
This is a covered flea market with over 200 stalls, so you’re guaranteed not to have to rummage in the rain. Held on Sundays several times a year, there are three more upcoming dates in 2015 – 19th July, 27th September and 6th December. We have had a couple of really successful trips here which is why it’s made our list, but also one disappointing one, so it’s probably luck of the draw as to what you’ll find on the day. Our favourite find here was a vintage Maasai painted shield.
No list of flea markets would be complete without this, the largest in Paris. Every time we visit we see the effect of rising rates – many dealers have had to shut up shop, and on the main drags it can feel more like a tourist attraction than a flea market, but there are still some hidden gems to be found. Our favourite area is Marché Lecuyer, where you’ll find traders that specialise in house clearances. If you get chatting to them, many also have warehouses that they might open to you if you’re looking for something specific. A couple of tips here: be careful of your wallet and barter hard.
You do have to sort through the junk here, but when you do, you can find some great vintage buys at really good prices. You’ll need to arrive early, and don’t visit on a Saturday unless you are prepared to fight the crowds! On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there are antiques auctions between 7am and 9am. Another tip with this one is not to visit in August; a lot of dealers don’t turn up for the whole month so it’s slim pickings. Our favourite find here was a set of colourful vintage wooden puppets.
In France, it’s possible to get hold of a calendar of all the second hand sales, vide-greniers (car boot sales) and brocantes taking place throughout the year – you can also find them online. We like to find an area where there are three or four decent sized events taking place within a convenient week, book a lovely gîte nearby et voila! Some of our most successful vintage shopping expeditions have been arranged this way.
Don’t forget to come back next week, where we’ll list our best hints and tips when second hand hunting.