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French Flea Markets: A Sea of Stories

10.08.2012









Vide Greniers are a marvelous breed of brocantes (flea markets) in France. Generally, they're held annually and fall on a Saturday or Sunday during the summer months, one village at a time (to prevent competition).

Looking out into the sea of stalls at a vide grenier is like swimming through history, wading through the memories weaved into every article of clothing and household item. Each worn marble and chipped porcelain plate was once collected individually and prized for a moment in time. The stories that fill your mind are what make vide greniers so enchanting...

Though at last summer's vide grenier in Châtillon-Coligny, among weathered leather-bound books, oxidized watering cans and greying embroidered linens, I overheard a woman disdainfully say that everything looked like it had come from her grandmother's basement. My mother-in-law isn't a big fan of brocantes herself. She grew up around all those (beautiful) objects that today she merely finds old, blasé and dull. In fact, I spotted the exact same red teapot on sale as the one she offered to give me, the one she used as a teenager many many years ago that sat lonely in her garage until I gratefully accepted to take it back to the States. I wonder if one day we'll feel the same way about the things we use everyday... 

15 comments

  1. Beautiful shots! I'd love to spend all day at these markets - though I guess it's true one person's trash is another person's treasure:) I'll take these treasures anyday - oh, to think of all those who've sat, ate, lived, cried, breathed, planned, dreamed amidst these objects...

    (I love that red teapot, by the way, glad you could 'rescue' it!)



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    1. Thank you Lulu! You're right, going to a vide grenier should be scheduled as an all day event :) My husband has threatened to leave me there (and pick me up much later ;) as I spend too much time at each table. It's difficult not to want to bring home almost everything you see, but alas I only bought a few things (that could comfortably fit in my suitcase ;)

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  2. The plates alone make me swoon! I wish I was there with you! I could peruse these flea markets all day, every day. :)

    xo,
    j

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    1. Agreed Jamie! Those plates are magnificent indeed, I drool over those too!... At the next vide grenier, won't you join me ;)

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  3. What a great post! I love flea markets and can't get enough of them. I love the plates and tea towels you have in the photos. Thanks for sharing & for the blog-visit!

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    1. Thanks so much Elizabeth! It seems like we ladies are big fans of flea markets ;) I managed to buy a few of those lovely tea towels (though my mother-in-law laughed at me for doing so!)... the plates are local to the region, an elegantly beautiful earthenware called the same name as the region they're from - Gien. I hope to write a post about them soon. Thanks again for stopping by!

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  4. You know that I'm loving those tea towels, Catherine. How did you not buy everything on those tables? :) Simply yummy eye candy. Your colors always just pop! Thanks for sharing your vide grenier day--and for teaching your French! I always learn something new from your posts:)

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    1. Charmaine, you said it! When I look over all the photos I took at the vide grenier (like the ones above), I have huge regrets! Too busy dreaming/drooling and photographing (instead of bargaining and buying ;) I did manage to scoop up a couple of those tea towels though!

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  5. Your post has changed the way I feel about vide greniers :) thank you for that!

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    1. I hope this post has changed your feeling in a *good* way Daydreamer :) As a French native, do you go to your local vide grenier annually, does it ever get old and boring?? ... I'll have to look out for that answer on your blog ;)

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  6. Wish I was there... Wonderful photos. Found your blog via flickr and it´s great, beautiful photos and interesting posts, will follow you

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    1. Thank you so much Zena! You have such a lovely blog and flickr stream, so happy we found each other :)

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  7. Beautiful photos, as usual! I'm loving the towels! So amazing, flea markets. I totally wish I was there! The colors are flashing!

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    1. Aww thank you Alexa!! Your visits and comments always make me smile :) We must go to a flea market together one day...

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