Monday, February 21, 2011

On the other side of the river

Going to brocantes is starting to be a real habit (dear friends, do you think it should be a weekly feature of the blog?).  It doesn’t help that there seems to be one every weekend.   Case in point, it was a rainy weekend but there were at least 2 or 3 in the city.  I thus decided to visit one that I’ve never been too. Boulevard Grenelle where this week’s brocante was held is all the way in the 15th arrondissement, across the river.  The fifteenth is mostly residential and is full of young families.  It is a quiet area with no major sites except for a few museums here and there so perhaps it is less interesting to tourists. But it is full of restaurants and cafes that can be quite good.  I was thus unsure whether the brocante would be worth the trek it took to get there. It didn’t help that there was a constant drip of water from the unrelenting rain. 

Surprisingly enough, there were a number of interesting things to see at the brocante.  For starters there were two big stands carrying secondhand books that ranged from hard bound art books to 1 euro pocketbooks and their selection was pretty good.  

A number of stands featured beautiful paintings and furniture and while it is supposed to be a brocante, the prices were comparable to those in some antique stores I’ve been to.  I lucked out when I found this great stand carrying all sorts of pretty things.  Their selection included gorgeous hand embroidered linens from Auvergne, mother of pearl buttons, hats and bags but by far the most interesting was the lady’s collection of hat pins. She has over 700 in her collection and she had started to sell them.  There were real beauties in her collection including some fairly old ones from the turn of the century.   Thanks to her, I learned that traditional hat pins with their long and dangerous pointy end were banned sometime in the 40s because of they were considered weapons (some of them looked deadly despite their pretty appearance) and that ladies continued to wear hat pins until well into the 60s albeit in much shorter, less deadly form.

An impressive collection right?
A closer look

Old fashioned patterns for children's clothes
Pretty knobs to use for doors and drawers
One stand had this very interesting set..I was very tempted to buy but then I found out what it was for and changed my mind. Its actually a gentleman's smoking set, complete with ashtray, a place to put matches, tobacco and cigarettes.  It was really pretty.

 And here it is, my find from the brocante......a gorgeous mother of pearl covered opera glasses from the turn of the century.  Aren't they gorgeous? Now I have to find the perfect moment to use them...


  1. great find! love the books! gorgeous covers. and wow what a collection of hat pins. yes, a weekly feature of brocantes would be fab!

  2. p.s. i've also always wanted to hang nice necklaces on beautiful knobs like that. they'd look great above a dresser or in a walk-in closet...

  3. Oh my those knobs!!!! I love them! And your opera glasses look really precious! Nice find :-) Please do posts on ALL the brocantes you visit!

  4. @full measure and Teacup Moments: thank you for liking my brocante posts, sometimes I worry that its too much of the same thing! And yes the knobs are really pretty! I should show you both the window handles that I saved and turned into a coat rack!