CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

7 of the best brocantes in France

PUBLISHED: 10:30 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 08 March 2018

French brocantes are havens for second-hand treasures  © JASCKAL / Fotolia

French brocantes are havens for second-hand treasures © JASCKAL / Fotolia

Archant

Rooting and rummaging around a French brocante is one of the best ways to spend a weekend morning. Here are 7 flea markets you won’t want to miss...

Braderie de Lille is one of the biggest flea markets in the world © OT Lille / M Dufour photographiesBraderie de Lille is one of the biggest flea markets in the world © OT Lille / M Dufour photographies

Lille Braderie

The legendary braderie in the capital of Hauts-de-France is the granddaddy of them all. Rather than limited itself to a decorative town square or not-so-decorative car park, Europe’s largest flea market takes over the whole town centre on the first weekend of September, attracting more than two million bargain-hunters. The old town’s narrow cobbled streets are closed to traffic while almost every inch of pavement on streets and squares heave with everything from old TVs to chinaware, furniture of every description, books, paintings, vintage vinyl and pretty much everything in between. I once saw a stunning, bubble-shaped 1970s chrome and white space-age hi-fi unit. Sadly, in those novice days, I lacked the means to get it home. So popular is the braderie that the streets often become jammed with punters shuffling along, elbowing each other to get a glimpse of the wares, while wannabe Juliette Grécos strum away. Restaurateurs get into the spirit, too; with record quantities of moules-frites being consumed, they hold a competition to see which restaurant can build the highest tower of mussel shells. If you want to bag a bargain, get there as early as you can on the Saturday. Don’t try to bring your car or van anywhere near the town centre once the braderie is in full swing. You’ll have a nightmare retrieving it.

You can't get a grander setting than Chambord's brocante (c) Wikimedia commonsYou can't get a grander setting than Chambord's brocante (c) Wikimedia commons

Grande Brocante de Chambord, Loire Valley

This expansive brocante is held every May Day in the shadow of the Loire Valley’s grandest château. With more than 500 sellers from all over France taking over the grounds and spilling out on to the village’s winding 16th-century lanes, this is a major event in the flea-market calendar. Nevertheless, you can still find some gems without breaking the bank. My favourite finds include a swirling, wrought-iron garden swing, a circular 1920s typewriter and gorgeous Cézanne-style landscapes. It is worth looking out for decorative faience tin-glazed chinaware, if you like that kind of thing. Sellers start setting up around 5am so it is worth heading out early if you want to nail that deal before anyone else.

_____________________________________________________________

Don’t miss...

Finders keepers – French vintage style

An interior designer’s home in Languedoc

____________________________________________________________

Annecy's brocante is one of the most picturesque © JASCKAL / FotoliaAnnecy's brocante is one of the most picturesque © JASCKAL / Fotolia

Marché aux Puces, Annecy, Haute-Savoie

While the best bargains do not necessarily turn up in the most picturesque places, it never hurts to have a chocolate-box setting. And they don’t come much lovelier than Annecy in Haute-Savoie, nicknamed ‘the Venice of the Alps’ thanks to its combination of crystal-clear canals and pastel-coloured townhouses, all set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and a gorgeous lake. On the last Saturday of the month, the Old Town hosts a wonderfully laid-back flea market with up to 200 sellers laying out their wares on trestle tables in the narrow arcaded streets. As well as the usual random selection of wares, you will find many local specialities including Savoyard ceramics and cheese-making gear, skiing kit as well as the occasional armoire, dolls and paintings, all amid tantalising wafts of Reblochon cheese and tartiflette from the food stalls. Prices are not rock bottom, due to the number of tourists who come mainly for the scenery, but nor are they as high as at larger, better-known markets. Opening hours are 8am to 6pm, so for the best deals get there early, or leave it late when sellers keen to get home are more amenable to a haggle.

The Vide-Grenier in Côte-d'Or © CC BY-SA 3.0The Vide-Grenier in Côte-d'Or © CC BY-SA 3.0

Vide-Grenier, Époisses, Burgundy

The delightful village of Époisses, midway between Dijon and Auxerre, is best known for its round cheeses and 16th- and 17th-century buildings, so this is the kind of slightly off-the-beaten-track area that often has a great vide-grenier. There is usually one around here on a Sunday morning in early May, when the atmosphere is part mini flea market, part village fête. Antique dealers and locals sell everything from art nouveau lamps to embroidered tablecloths and gardenware while a local dignitary or two turns up to say a few words on a makeshift PA system. Things wind down around lunchtime, when there is a chance grab a fried andouillette sausage baguette and a glass of beer. Do check local listings here as these events move around like quicksilver and the venue for last week’s sale could be this week’s empty car park.

Brocantes are the perfect place to while away a lazy weekend morning © Madzia71 / ThinkstockphotosBrocantes are the perfect place to while away a lazy weekend morning © Madzia71 / Thinkstockphotos

Les Puces de Canal, Villeurbanne, Lyon

Held on an industrial patch of wasteland next to a canal on the outskirts of Lyon, this brocante may not win any prizes for its Instagram potential but is nonetheless one of France’s major flea markets with more than 400 sellers. Every Sunday morning, sellers arrive in the early hours to set up their pitches on makeshift trestle tables, on blankets on the ground or in a corrugated-roofed hangar. There is an amazing variety for sale, from rustic garden furniture, vintage leather luggage, books, Bakelite radios and Bergère chairs, to paintings, knick-knacks and old clothes, monogrammed tablecloths, wine-making gear and marble-topped bedside tables. With so many stalls, it can be dizzying, so unless you want to end up wandering in circles, you will need to be organised and methodical, working out your planned route on arrival. On the plus-side, there is secure parking in the main car park.

____________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Running a vintage furniture business in Annecy

These are the reasons why we love France

____________________________________________________________

You can find almost anything at a French brocante © AlexKozlov / ThinkstockphotosYou can find almost anything at a French brocante © AlexKozlov / Thinkstockphotos

Grandes Foires à la Brocante et Antiquités, Pézenas, Hérault

The small town of Pézenas, between Montpellier and Béziers is a major name in the antiques trade, thanks to its unusually high concentration of antique dealers and superb flea market. Twice a year on the first Sunday in May and the second Sunday in October, more than 150 sellers fill pavements and roadsides in Pézenas with everything from iron garden furniture to Art Deco crystalware, cast-iron radiators, ornate rococo mirrors, vintage toile de jouy linens, paintings and the occasional Sèvres coffee set. Savour the sweet smell of fresh crêpes and candy floss, the sounds of the local organ-grinder but be prepared to hone your haggling skills as the tough-nut, puffer-jacketed dealers know how to drive a hard bargain.

The brocante at Isle sur Sorgue is one of France's best known © legabatch / FotoliaThe brocante at Isle sur Sorgue is one of France's best known © legabatch / Fotolia

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Vaucluse

After the Lille Braderie, this is probably France’s best-known brocante. About half an hour’s drive east of Avignon, this gorgeous Provençal town with its watermills and canals may be small but with more than 350 antiques and second-hand shops, it draws collectors and buyers from around the world. The biannual antiques fairs, over the Easter weekend and on 15 August, are major dates on the international antiques calendar. Less hectic is the weekly Sunday market held on the edge of the river bank on the Avenue des Quatre Otages. This combination of food market, flea market and antiques fair offers everything from silverware, Provençal pots and ceramics to Bergère suites, cameras and old boules sets. This, however, is a cut above some of France’s lesser-known flea markets and vide-greniers. Many professional sellers display their items with panache, tying decorative ribbons around neatly piled-up linens, and as you might expect, prices are similarly inflated. But it is still possible to unearth a rare treasure or just something you love. Vendors start setting up around 9am, but get there before that to snap up the best pieces and secure a parking space nearby.

Other articles you might like:

10 reasons why Paris is the perfect place to live

These are the reasons why we love France

Underrated travel experiences in France you have to try

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Friday, December 7, 2018

These welcoming and wonderful Christmas markets are just a short trip across the Channel away, so what are you waiting for?

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

When it’s cold outside, indulge your love of French food and drink at one of these stylish pop-ups and events closer to home

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discover the Christmas delights of northern France with our top five Christmas markets in the region

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From lakeside jazz festivals to chestnut fairs, get stuck in with these events taking place across France in December 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 22, 2018

You can ditch the airport queues and long drives, and hit the rails instead, says Daniel Elkan. The French Alps has an abundance of ski resorts that suit families, easily accessed by train.

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Budget travellers can pay nothing to stay at bed and breakfasts around the world during Barter Week in exchange for manual, creative or teaching activities

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Find out when your favourite French ski resort opens and closes this year and start planning your ski trip to France

Read more
Winter trips
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Find out what events are taking place in France to commemorate the Armistice centenary.

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

The full route of the 2019 Tour de France was announced in Paris on 25 October

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

From hot air balloon gatherings to scallop festivals, there’s always something fun and unique going on in France in November

Read more
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now