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Brocantes, French Antiques and Vintage Shopping in Provence Tips

France is the ultimate haven for those passionate about estate sales, antiques, and French brocantes. A French brocante is similar to a giant yard sale—a game of hunting and gathering. Brocante stores are a familiar sight in the south of France. In Uzès, there are weekends devoted to brocantes. Items are displayed on sidewalks and in parking lots, transforming the town into a tapestry of china, glassware, pottery, and castaway household treasures. These market days are not just shopping venues; they are cultural experiences. Please keep reading here to learn about my long-time love of collecting antiques and vintage items that have continued to grow in France. It’s a collector’s paradise!

French Antiques and Vintage Shopping in Provence

Antique Shopping in Provence

Before you shop for antiques or vintage items in France, it’s a good idea to understand the terminology. There are several kinds of large public sales offering different quality products. Here is a list of the most common types of sales:

Antiques: After Paris, L’Isle sur la Sorgue has the most extensive collection of antique dealers in France. With over 300 storefronts selling French antiques and collectables, it is no wonder that this mid-size town features on many tour agendas. The first antique dealer’s village was established in 1978. Today, you can peruse furniture, artwork, tapestries, silverware and much more as you wind through a tangle of stores in seven (7) antique villages. The opening hours and days for dealers vary, but the doors are wide open on weekends.

On Easter weekend and during the August 15th public holiday weekend, antique lovers descend upon Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The Antiques Art and You fair has an international cache with professional buyers. Whether looking for something specific or just browsing, expect to see a wide selection of antiques and knick-knacks. Expect parking challenges in Isle-sur-la-Sorge during the weekend fairs, but that is part of the experience.

The Salon Antibes Art Fair is an annual antique sale held in Antibes for ten (10) days every April in this French Riviera city. This is a major gathering of exhibitors and over 20,000 attendees each year. The Antibes Art Fair brings together art market pieces, including modern and contemporary art, jewellery, designer and vintage furniture, antique furniture, and paintings.

French Antiques and Vintage in Provence

Vintage Shopping

Brocante: It’s an antique fair with several vendors. Some of the stalls are run by professionals and other hobbyists.

Marché aux puces is a flea market. These are typically larger gatherings offering used goods for sale in public environments, often open-air. These markets are usually frequented by professionals who are buying and selling.

Puces-brocante is a market hybrid with goods that fall between the quality of a brocante and a marché aux puces. The antiques for sale are often less valuable than at a brocante or salon des antiquaires, and there are always plenty of trinkets available.

Vintage Shopping in Provence

Vide greniers are not as sophisticated as brocantes but offer plenty of treasures. These markets are like a community garage sale where you can find anything and everything for sale. The phrase translates into “empty cellar,” a chance to rid your attic of used stuff.

Shopping French Antiques Vintage Provence

Shopping Tips for Vintage Markets

“The early bird gets the worm” applies to brocantes or any marketplace. Arriving early typically gives you a chance to see all the merchandise.

If you want something particular, arrive with a budget in mind.

Take measurements before you go shopping.

Ask permission before you take pictures. Many vendors do not want photos taken of their merchandise.

Some vendors expect you to haggle over the price, but not all.

Starting in the spring and running through late fall, there are brocantes, vide greniers and other markets throughout the region. Your best source for the schedule for local markets is the tourist office or Marie. In some villages, there may be more than one annual sale; in others, there may be several throughout the season.


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Deborah Bine

The Barefoot Blogger, aka Deborah Bine, loves to share tales of her solo life in France as an American expat who speaks no French. Retired from a career in advertising and marketing communications, and divorced after a 40-year marriage with children, Deborah left Beaufort, South Carolina and all of her belongings last year to move to the south of France. Now that she has found her "bliss," her passion is to encourage others to break away from whatever is holding them back and to go after their dreams. "We're on life's journey alone. Be certain you love where you are."

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