As France reopened following the confinement I was especially excited for weekend brocantes to come back. I’ve always enjoyed antique shopping in Paris from browsing the selections at big flea markets and to finding treasures in unexpected places. Since I’ve been back from Normandy, starting and growing my French antique collection has been my mission.
My Love for Antiques
My fascination with antiques started as a child. I remember begging my parents to take me to an antique mall on the weekends. We spent summers in northern Minnesota, and a favorite activity was always a trip into one of the several towns to visit the antique shops.
I wasn’t a buyer as a child, but I could spend hours browsing and imagining the stories behind the objects. On my very first trip to Paris I went to the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen with my parents. I remember being in total awe of the selection – only slightly different than a Dallas antique mall.
Growing My French Antique Collection
Following my time in Normandy I was ready to get back to antique shopping in Paris. I loved talking to Romain’s grandmother and hearing the stories behind everything in the house from the napkins to the coffee cups. I grew up admiring my grandparents and parents’ collections and realized it was time to start my own French antique collection.
Not surprisingly, most of the items on my list revolve around the table: tablecloths, napkins, flatware, dishes, napkin rings, coffee cups, champagne coupes and flutes…I want it all. Spending time à table enjoying a meal and the company is so precious. Why not have a pretty table?
My Paris apartment is furnished, so I’ve been using the Ikea products it came with. Now I’m craving objects with more character. I have a couple of sets of gorgeous crystal stemware and linen napkins, but everything else table-related isn’t mine.
I decided that even if I’m just eating lunch at home by myself I want to use pretty flatware. And it just makes it even better if it’s French antique flatware that I found at a brocante hidden in a box of mixed silver under a table, right? In the same vein, if I’m having a margarita, why not pull out a beautiful Baccarat glass from 1937? I want to start using these objects instead of having them sit in a cabinet waiting for a special occasion.
My Antique Shopping Tactics
I like to justify things, and it’s pretty easy to justify buying beautiful antique objects. It’s not only a sustainable way to shop, but it’s also definitely less expensive than buying the same pieces new. That’s a win-win in my book.
My preferred way to shop a brocante is to take a lap and get an overview of everything before buying. This isn’t always the best technique because you run the risk of missing out. However, you might also find something in a better condition or at a better price.
The best antiquing advice I’ve ever received is “if something sings to you, buy it.” Sometimes things “sing to me” that are way out of my price range, but otherwise it’s sound advice.
After several weeks of antiquing in Paris and digging through bins under tables, negotiating, and also just being in the right place at the right time, I’ve started to amass a little collection. My new favorites are an almost complete a set of silver flatware (still working on it), a map of Brittany (that also has the La Manche area of Normandy), colored-glass whisky tumblers with painted golden ships, and a brown crocodile bag (not for the table but I couldn’t resist).
I’m already counting down the days until Saturday when it’ll be time for another weekend full of antiquing in Paris.