Several times a year throughout France massive international antique fairs happen. They are different from the brocantes. If ever you want to see the mother lode, find the source, the root, the beginning and the end of antique happiness then any of these international antique fairs are a must.
You do not need to be a professional antique buyer to enter, though mostly professional antique buyers go. Whatever you buy that day must be taken with you or by your transporter by the end of the fair. No credit cards are accepted.
The towns in France where the international antiques fair happen are:
Beziers, Avignon, Montpellier, Lyon, Chartres, Lemans... the international transporters are at these fairs too.
The first international antique fair I ever went to was back in 1996. When I went inside, I could not move due from overwhelming emotion, nor could I believe the amazing display of history in front of me. I stood their with my mouth dropped open starring in wonder. Twenty years later, I feel the same way but am not awestruck with emotion.
Sure the antiques have changed, not as old, not as ornate, more repurposed pieces and new kids on the block called mid century modern. But still there is plenty to be surprised about. Mind you the antiques fairs are not inexpensive, nor are they for the inexperienced buyer as the fair moves fast.
Nevertheless whether you are buying for yourself or for a shop, whether you are filling a suitcase or a container, if you love antiques you have to put this sort of antique fair on your bucket list you won't regret it.
Not a single photo that I took does these fairs justice. I did not go to take photos, instead I snapped a few on the side as I walked around with my friend Lisa, (her home is in the recent French Cottage by Victoria) as she looked for some pieces for her newest add on to her home.
If ever you want to go and need a guide, a translator, someone to negotiate for you, send me an email I love doing just that. Or if you want to give me a blank check and say, "Have at it." Well duh, I will call you my hero and lick you feet forever. Doesn't that make you want to give me a blank check, hehe.
Everything you can imagine or not is at the international fairs... well regarding antiques and decor that is.
Oversized pieces, upholstery, kitchen wares, textiles, religious, painted, wooden, steel, statuary, facades, plus every antique dealer and or personality you have ever known on TV, famous shop or show in the USA, Australia, Italy, England, Russia, China... are running around trying to buy before their competitors do. It is a sight to be seen.
And you gotta watch out for copies.
I have known a few antique dealers who have bought copies not knowing they had.
I remember going to a friend's house and seeing a table she bought for 10,000 dollars, "Isn't it incredible? A farm table from France from the 1700s!"
I did not burst her bubble. Somethings are better left unsaid. The table she bought from an American importer, located in California... what was I to say? She could not return it... there was nothing to do but say:
"You are right it is incredible."
A beautiful stand at the international antique fair each of the pieces where created using old elements. Recycling with taste, chic repurposing. And not at all inexpensive. The owners of the stand did not try to cover up the fact that the pieces are repurposed. Though most antique dealers know their trade very well, it is the decorators that might not know the difference, and the international antique fairs attract every kind of buyer: Antique dealers, artists, decorators, set designers, architects, crafters, home owners, admirers...
I loved the oversized gigantic lanterns that were created with repurposed elements.
There is nothing new under the sun, everything blooms, fades and passes away to be reborn or re-created again and again.
Antiques have many lives.
Our taste is inspired by what we see, and what brings pleasure to our senses.
The international fair in Avignon had about 1500 antique dealers. It is best to come when the three fairs in the south line up:
A cupboard full of 1600 to 1700 parchment Italian books simply haunted me.
They sold before I could utter, "Oh my God."
If you cannot come to France, try Round Top, especially Marburger, many of the antique dealers there come to these fairs in France to buy. Their prices are very fair considering the exceptional amount of time, energy and money it cost to transport antiques to the States.
Of course as I live here I know a place or two to go before the items arrive at the international antique fairs...
But with that said, why drive around France when you can do a one shop stop...
Because driving around France isn't a depressing thing to do that is why...
Unless you are in a hurry, or fall asleep at the wheel.
Dig these I do.
Oh baby baby, my baby baby.
Styles and design trends come and go.
Come and go, and stay on and on.
Over the centuries, fashionable then not.
Once for an altar, and now for a side table...
The international antique fairs start at eight in the morning. Give yourself PLENTY of time to get there, traffic can be ruthless, and parking is a beast, especially if you arrive too late.
If you go to the international antique fairs expect to pay more than you would at a brocante fair.
Even if the antique is something you see at the brocante for less. The point is the better the fair/market, the more costly it usually will be. It can be compared to buying a tee shirt at TJ Maxx or at Barney's.
My friend Lisa and her purchase.
A mid century mirror that had me in many places all at once.
There was a wow factor about this mirrored coffee table. It was already sold when I asked about it
Mid century wow.
I can say wow and not want it.
Links to antiques and fairs in France:
If you want The French Muse can be your guide, just send us an email