Monday, February 28, 2011

Over at the Opera

I learned a curious thing recently. Individuals may participate in vide-greniers/brocantes  only twice a year. Otherwise they are considered professional brocanteurs.  I always thought that participating in one was a great way to get rid of your unwanted things though my experience of brocantes have always been on the buyer side and only once on the seller side.  You rent a stand, bring your table and things then spend the whole day trying to sell them.  Most of the people will try to bargain down your already rock bottom prices, but that’s part of the fun. And for the most part, your co-brocanteurs are a friendly lot. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of a professional brocanteurs. I suppose they are the modern equivalent of the itinerant peddlars of yore.  They spend their days buying up people’s old things and then selling them at various parts of the city.  In the really major brocantes, like the Bastille and Chatou, you have brocanteurs coming from all over France, some as far as the South of France.  I don’t think that it’s an easy life, but everyone I’ve talked to seem to enjoy it and can’t imagine being tied down to a store.  That said, there are some brocanteurs who are professional and properly accredited antique dealers whose wares often carry hefty price tags.

All these musings crossed my mind as we visited a brocante at the Boulevard des Italiens near the Opera in the 2nd arrondissement.  As far as brocantes go, it wasn’t a very large affair.  But most of the stands featured an impressive array of beautiful furniture. Clearly these were more in the vein of professional antique dealers and not of the itinerant peddler type!   Furniture ranged from beautifully carved armoires and tables of the colonial style to more industrial looking pieces.  I have a soft spot for the colonial inspired styles but there was no lack of interest in the industrial pieces.  

Old fashioned trunks

The more industrial looking pieces in metal, glass and iron
And I don’t know what it was but there were a number of stands carrying those beautiful old fashioned gas lamps.  I love those lamps and for some reason, they remind me so much of the Philippines. Now lest anyone misunderstand, they are not used much in the Philippines anymore but I have this picture in my mind (a hopelessly nostalgic and romantic notion) of an old home all warm and well lit by those precious gas lamps! I sure wanted to take one of them home with me, but all of those I saw needed to be reworked to fit modern wires so I regretfully left them behind. I hope its not the last time that I'll see those lamps!

Some beautiful lamps and glass from the turn of the century
More lamps and candle holders
 One stand had memorable pieces for the garden, including what looked like a hot air balloon but fashioned out of metal and wood. It was pretty and whimsical.

I also wanted to take home this pretty swing, except I don't have the house in the country with the big garden!

 In keeping with the home theme of this brocante, the find of the week was this 2 level basket carrier that we’re going to hang in the kitchen.  I can finally keep all my pot holders in a more orderly fashion!


  1. that basket is awesome pink princess! and the best thing is it will be functional in your kitchen, too.

  2. Lovey lovely lovely! :-) I particularly like the large trunk on which two little trunks are perched. I can use that as a coffee table. That hot air balloon art is so precious!!! Is it a birdcage?