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France’s best flea markets

Posted on 30 June 2015 by

France’s best flea markets

Browsing among the treasures on offer at the local flea market is undoubtedly one of the great pleasures of holidays in France. We asked bargain hunter ANGELA YOUNGMAN to tell us about her favourite flea markets.

Flea marketing in France

You never know just what is hidden on one of the many industrial bounce house tables that appear in market squares and streets all over the country.  From antiques to vintage clothing, delicious food to period knick-knacks – anything can be found on sale. Prices are generally low, and vendors are willing to bargain if you ask nicely.  So popular are the flea markets that even UK antiques specialists have been shown hunting for bargains in France while taking part in antiques road trip TV programmes.

Virtually every town in France has a flea market one day a week or each month.  The trick is to get there early, stroll and be prepared to bargain for desirable items.  Stall holders are very willing to talk about their wares and tell you something of their history. It is a great way of experiencing French culture and heritage, and perhaps taking home some examples.

Some of the biggest flea markets only take place once or twice a year. These are like a big car boot sale, but you have a greater chance of finding genuine antiques and period items.

Flea markets come under various names. Some are referred to as Les Marche aux Puces, others as braderies (meaning low price) or brocante while yet others are described as vide-greniers or attic sales. The common feature in all of them are the bargains on offer, and antiques to be found.

1. The Braderie de Lille in northern France is the biggest flea market to be found anywhere in Europe.  Taking place in September each year, it is massive, attracting around two million people keen to find bargains on the 10,000+ stalls which take over the streets and squares of Lille.  You can ‘window shop’ only until the stalls open at 2.00 pm.  Look for unusual, original items avoiding anything mass produced, or relatively new.

Closest siblu holiday village: Domaine de Litteau

2. When exploring the Loire Valley, don’t forget to stop off at the Flea market in Tours.  This takes place on the first Sunday of every month and has around 150 stalls.  Look for ceramics, porcelain, antique bottles and agricultural equipment.  Don’t forget to explore the wonderful architecture of Tours, and stop off at some of the vineyards to try the local wine.

Closest siblu holiday village: Domaine de Dugny

3. Over in Brittany, the 100 stall flea market in the Place Viarme at Nantes is held every Saturday. Given its location on the Brittany coast, Nantes is an ideal place to hunt for anything nautical as such items often appear. This is a great place for finding marine or vintage items, as well as pottery, porcelain and Quimper ceramics. Afterwards, the nearby rugged coast provides a hive of activity for the kids.

Closest siblu holiday village: Les Pierres Couchees

4. Rennes is another good hunting ground for antiques.  The book and antiques flea market can be found in the streets of the city every Thursday.  On the following day there is another market dealing with comics, postcards and vinyl records.  These are becoming very collectible and some can make very high prices especially early editions of Asterix and TinTin.  Postcards dating from the two world wars are very picturesque and can still be purchased for quite low prices.

Closest siblu holiday village: Domaine de Kerlann

5. Antiques hunters are spoilt for choice in Caen as there are two separate flea markets held every Sunday and Friday.  These often attract stalls from antique dealers . The Emmaus flea market on the Avenue de Rouen is a great place to hunt for bric a brac, collectables and vintage clothing.  Try out your French on the stall holders, they are very willing to negotiate and accept bids.

Closest siblu holiday village: Domaine de Litteau

6. Bayeux is well known for its incredible tapestry telling the story of the Battle of Hastings, but it is worth staying on a little longer and visiting the wonderful flea market in the Boulevard De La Republic.  Pottery, ceramics, furniture worth seeking out as well as looking for antique jewellery and silver.

Closest siblu holiday village: Domaine de Litteau

7. Although enjoying the sun in Cannes and relaxing on the beach has priority, a trip to the local flea market can reveal many hidden treasures.  All kinds of antiques can be found along the Allées  de la Liberté all weekend, together with numerous arts and crafts stalls.  This is a good hunting ground for paintings, antique jewellery, vintage clothing and collectables.  If you still have cash to spare you can continue the antiques hunt in the Marché Forville on Mondays, and travel to Cannes la Bocca on Thursdays.

Closest siblu holiday village: Le Montourey

8. And if you are passing through Paris on your way home, make a stop at one of the Parisian fleamarkets.  Marche aux Puces de Montreuil is one of the oldest flea markets in the country while Puces des Saint-Ouen near Montmartre is the largest antique market in the world.

Closest siblu holiday village: Domaine de Dugny


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