The clocks have gone forward, blossom is appearing on the trees and all over France, the season of Brocantes, Vide-Greniers and Bric-a-Brac starts.
So what exactly are they? As a general rule, a Brocante is sale of second-hand items of furniture or antiques; a Vide-Grenier literally means ‘attic clearance’ – very much like the UK car boot sale; a Bric-a-Brac is a sale of knick-knacks – things that aren’t worth very much. However, the differences between them have become more blurred, so whichever one you choose, you’ll find everything from furniture to china, from books to ancient farm machinery, as well as the usual array of glassware, second-hand clothes and toys.
Easter Sunday Vide-Grenier
Back in the UK, my partner and I were avid car-booters, looking forward to our weekly bargains, rummaging through countless stalls. Since moving to France, we have been counting the days until the start of the Brocantes, Vide-Greniers and Bric-a-Brac. So, on Easter Sunday, we excitedly set off with pockets full of small change, for our first taste of a Vide-Grenier. They start early – stall holders set up from 6am and visitors arrive from 8am, with dealers bartering for a bargain. We arrived at a much more civilised 10am, and were surprised at how many stalls there were, on the main road and sprawling into side streets.
Familiar to unusual
There is something for everyone; as well as the familiar, there is also the unusual – we came across a gigantic pair of bellows – they were taller than me…and I’m 5 feet, 10! My partner thought they were probably from an old foundry. Although lots of things caught our eyes, we ended up buying some bread and some old military braid, which we’re going to use to display my Dad’s beloved WWII dress swords. Definitely a great way to spend a few hours, strolling in the sunshine.
Run a stall
If you want to find out where there’s a Brocante, Vide-Grenier or Bric-a-Brac near you, you can buy a little pocket guide in your local Tabac, Post Office or at the supermarket.
As a seller, it’s a great way to get rid of all your unwanted stuff and make a little bit of money – pitches only cost a couple of Euros. To set up a stall, information can be found at your local Mairie’s office, in free magazines, tourist offices or from the pocket guide. Finally, choose your venue wisely because, as a private individual, you can only sell at two events per year… and there are strict laws in place which enforce this.