Monday, 3 February 2014


  A few years ago, I listed some ' savoir faire'  hints for buying antiques and bric-a-brac in France, whether on holiday,  just for fun, or for small scale dealing.   Since then I have learnt about a few extra  caveats, after hearing some sad travellers tales of losses at the big fairs.   Wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing.  There are several kilometers to cover on your feet if you do a thorough 'walk' and the big hangars can be very cold in the early morning in winter.  A torch is useful, also a measuring] tape.  If you are slipping in to the big trade fairs, take a business card with you to wave at the gate.   Arrive early to get the best bargains;  the dealers do not hang about and you may see their stickers on objects which means they are already sold!
   A friendly smile and a polite 'bonjour Msieur' or 'Madame' is always a good beginning in any country;  You can almost always get the price down a bit and explain you are from England, not a rich American!  It often helps!   Pick up the article if small or place your hand on it, if large, and then no-one can outbid you while you bargain-deal!  You will always have to pay in cash 'liquide' as it is known in France, and the ATMs are sometimes far away in another town.  Remember too that there are very adept robbers and pickpockets at all the big fairs who will slit back-pockets, cut cords and whisk away your wallet to ruin your day and holiday.  All cash should be kept in inner secure pockets or belts.  If you buy and leave goods with the seller, make a note of the stall no and position,  as the stand can look very different next time you pass by and the seller may have put his wife or friend in charge of the stand, who will not recognize you..One of those big plastic zipped bags (Hong Kong  variety) can be very useful, specially if you are buying textiles and linens.  You can hire a porter and barrow (at great cost) if you buy heavy stuff and your transport is a long way off -   Some porters are skilled, but others are rough and need watching.  There are commercial carriers at all the big fairs (Le Mans, Avignon, Bordeaux, etc.), who will deliver to your English address, but this is a major expense and you should calculate the extra cost when buying large and/or valuable lumps.The food stands sell greasy fry-ups and the coffee portions are v. small - best to buy a croissant or two from a bakery before you set out for the fair..

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I would like to attend such an event with a pro like yourself. I have never been overseas and always have dreamed of attending a large flea market show such as you are talking about. Of course I am a senior now and downsizing all my collections so need to start buying again