Hilda StearnInspireShopping & Gifts

Garden Furniture Impulse buy or 3 year search

Perhaps it is the weather or the hunt for a bargain that drives literally thousands of people to visit a brocante (second-hand markets) especially in the summer. Well-known places such as Isle-sur-la Sorgue seamlessly blend antiques with second hand goods. I have never known what is a bargain and what is an over-priced purchase! As a result I have ‘looked’ but never ‘bought’. All that changed this summer at the brocante which takes place 3 or 4 times a year at the Marche Gare just outside Carpentras. This was my third visit in as many years and whilst on previous occasions I did actually have a particular purchase in mind I came away empty-handed. This year this was a browsing expedition quite late in the day. The real bargains disappear well before lunchtime!

Marche Gare #Carpentras #Markets #Brocante @HildaSt

Or so I thought.

This brocante is massive and draws huge crowds. The sheer range of items defies belief and as the saying goes in the UK ‘where there is muck there is brass!’ Another way of looking at it would be to say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder!’ Either way it is a great way to spend an afternoon trying to figure out why someone would have bought these things in the first place to imagining how you might re-design your home to make that piece of furniture fit! And every thought in between.

Marche Gare #Carpentras #Markets #Brocante @HildaSt

As we entered the Marche Gare I spotted what I had (genuinely!) been looking for: a garden bench and chairs. Finally my bargain had appeared! Counseled to look around I chatted to the seller and handed over my deposit. I am not given to impulse buying (very often!) however on this occasion I could not resist! I had been searching for 3 years so, I reasoned it was hardly a speedy purchase! We agreed the price – a bargain at 100E – and exchanged contact details. Now pretty much penniless I happily mooched around the brocante feeling very pleased with myself!

Marche Gare #Carpentras #Markets #Brocante @HildaSt

Now Caromb is not a tiny village nor is it huge and in the days of satnav – not mention my brilliantly drawn map (!) delivery should have been a breeze. Naturally this was not the case and the seller called me from about 100 metres from my road wondering if he had gone too far! I am used to loitering at the top of the road and so I duly wandered up and directed him to the gate at the back of our garden which you reach via the next Impasse. It would have been too complicated to have explained this in advance, trust me! I hurried back through the house to open the back gate. Opening the gate was the easy bit: a neighbour had parked their van right up to the gate. And when I say ‘right up’ I am not exaggerating as the picture shows. Despite having their own drive and plenty of space either side of our gate this was the chosen spot! My seller and his wife did not seem surprised at this. He simply put each chair in turn on his head and squeezed through the gap! It was a team effort to get the bench over the van yet we did it. And, we now have a lovely set of garden furniture that looks just right.

Now all I need are a couple of small tables to match. Another 3 years in the searching? Do hope not!

Marche Gare #Carpentras #Markets #Brocante @HildaSt

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Hilda Stearn

Hilda Stearn

Hilda is a co-founder of a Kent-based business development consultancy Ministry for Growth and manages the Thames Valley office. Working with a diverse range of clients from start-ups to established businesses provides a truly varied working week. She is passionate about supporting ambitious companies to be successful and is recognized for her collaborative approach. Hilda is renowned locally for her skill in bringing potential business partners together. She is currently a volunteer business adviser for Young Enterprise and participating in this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week by mentoring a new business based in Buckinghamshire.

Hilda is fortunate to be able to balance work with regular trips to Provence where she continues to find new hidden gems that she readily shares with friends and her followers on Twitter.


  1. blank
    May 4, 2016 at 10:01 am — Reply

    Must go!!

    • blank
      May 5, 2016 at 1:54 am — Reply

      Yes you will need to add Marche Gare near Carpentras to your long list of “must dos” this summer.

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