Heading to France this summer? If you love French style, you might be tempted to pick up some beautiful vintage decor or antique furniture on your travels. After all, what is more special to have in your home than an interesting pre-loved piece of finely made furniture with a story to tell! If you are travelling by car or van you might have space to squeeze in a few small treasures to take home.
So where to go and how to haggle in French?! Louise Scott-Heatley of French Vintage Vie shares her top tips for antique shopping for your own “little piece of France” to bring back.
You will find everything from rusty buckets to fine antique furniture in a village or town brocante / flea market and they happen all over France! Look out for posters promoting local events in the area that you’re visiting or ask at the tourist information centre. If you want to be prepared in advance, check out www.vide-greniers.org
If there aren’t any markets being held during your stay, why not browse in the wealth of antique shops in many French towns and cities as well as rural brocante shops which can sometimes be large barns in the middle of nowhere packed to the beams with beautiful antiques!
Some large antique fairs are reserved for dealers only but some are also open to the public.
If you’re looking for high-end antique furniture, you won’t go wrong in Paris, which is full of antique shops. It’s also worth checking out the Marche aux Puces de St Ouen which opens every weekend throughout the year.
If you fancy a relaxing stroll in a lovely tree-lined city centre antique market, try Toulouse, the first weekend of each month.
For beautiful antique and home interiors boutiques and an outdoor brocante market, you will love L’Isle sur la Sorgue
HOW TO HAGGLE
It is expected that you will try to negotiate on the price in a market setting so practice your haggling skills and see how low they will go!
It helps if you can converse in French. Many of the French dealers speak very little English and they will be more likely to give you a better deal if you can chat to them.
Try not to be too obvious that you are a tourist!
Bring plenty of cash as many won’t accept payment by card
Browsing markets is a wonderfully relaxing past-time whilst on holiday, but if you are looking for something in particular, it can be frustrating if you don’t find what you are looking for on a short trip and if you do find a large piece of furniture, how do you get it home. French Vintage Vie owner, Louise understands the frustration and this is exactly what inspired her French interiors store in Ireland and her client sourcing service. She travels regularly to France to purchase stock for her small store in Belfast city centre whilst also offering a sourcing service with worldwide shipping. She sources everything from fine antiques to retro and industrial furniture on behalf of private and commercial clients including interior designers and the hospitality sector. Her professional “personal shopper” service means the items are picked by hand and delivered to your home or business without the worry of shipping, insurance and the expense of travel.
But she also knows for some, that part of the fun is the “find” and will be launching her new escorted brocante tours to France for those who want to search for their treasures themselves but need a little help – so you get the fun of searching for your furniture without the hassle and the haggling!