Living in Normandy #9: What Not To Do Brocanting!

Looking for a quick introduction, check out my previous brocanting post here!


Now that the vide grenier season is calming down, I’d like to share some observations of what not to do on your brocanting trips, from my own experience as well as observing others.

Vide Grenier? Brocanting? What’s that?

Vide Grenier is what would be referred to as a car boot sale or a fleamarket, and brocanting is antiquing. The french version of these are usually full of exciting and interesting items!

The best discoveries often take time to find, which makes searching for them all the more fun. Now that it is getting cooler, the “thrill of the chase” so to speak on finding exciting, interesting, and aesthetic items to spruce up your home, is getting a little more difficult to leave the cosy interior for.

With the changing of the seasons, there is a changing in aesthetics and trends. Autumn/Fall vintage trends for 2022 are heading to be earthy and more muted natural tones, some fun oaty whites and beiges, as well as the warmth of dark orange and green. Along with natural colours, natural forms are also coming into fashion with raw wood furniture, wicker, bamboo and natural wood decoration, and hints of copper and gold embellishments.

To help you on your little French brocanting adventures, here are some handy tips on what NOT to do out and about…

Inside a depot-vente

Do not come Empty-Handed

I am sure this one is a given, but you would be surprised how many people I’ve seen not bring bags or boxes to put their wares in. Vendors are highly unlikely to have bags, so bringing your own is a must! Usually, for more fragile items they will offer to wrap them up in newspaper, but I have found bringing a scarf or using a cardigan also works as a last-minute buffer better for fragile breakables and heavier solid objects. This one does apply to brocantes and depot ventes too, as they may only have cardboard crates for carrying your wares.

Larger objects or more awkward objects can be put on hold until you can bring your car closer, or have assistance for moving it.

Bring Small Change

There is nothing worse than paying big bills. The item is under 10 euros and your wallet is stuffed with 50 euro notes. Not a good look and is sure to annoy the people around you! Especially if you have bartered a price down to a couple of euros.

But also know that offering a handful of 1, 2, and 5 cents is equally not a good look!

Learn the Appropriate French

Here’s today’s little french lesson, on phrases that will help you out at a sale:

FrenchEnglish
Combien?How Much?
Faire une bonne/mauvaise affaireMake a good/bad deal
C’est VenduIt’s Sold
Je regardI am looking
Discuter les prixDiscuss the price
Payer en liquide/espèce To pay in cash
Payer en chequeTo pay by check
Quel est votre prix?What is your best price?
Combine pour les deux, trois…?How much for the two, three…
C’est de quelle période?How old is it?

Talk to the Vendor

The vendor is probably the most knowledgeable of his wares and probably bored from sitting at a table all day. If you feel like a challenge, use the opportunity to practise your French with a bit of conversation, or say hello!

One thing I have noticed in my walk around several flea markets is people arguing with the vendors, saying that they know better than the vendor and that they can get it cheaper elsewhere, or cheaper in the UK. This goes down like a lead balloon for sure in terms of price negotiation!

Remember Your Manners

Politesse, formalities and etiquette, are highly regarded in French culture and go a very long way. Don’t be just another foreigner in France, and remember to say Bonjour et Au Revoir, and maybe even through in a Bonne Journée! If you are really going for the full politesse, make sure you use vous instead of tu!

antique shop window display

That’s all I have for now and hope to share with you more hauls showing off the excting items I have found… but until then, happy hunting!!


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Published by Briony-Molly

Reader, artist and Politics lover.

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