Antiquing in France, where the brocantes (antique markets) are as plentiful as the stars in the sky, it is not difficult to be a collector. One can collect an array of antiques, big and small, furniture, porcelain, rustic art, books, textiles, silver and ephemera in lightening speed. If you like antiques do not come to France because you will go crazy the moment your feet touch the brocante ground.
At the French flea markets where history lays out before you as easy as any major chain store does in the USA, it is not a question of what will you find? The real question is: What do you want to find? If it is something classic, traditional... common you will. Though if you want to find a certain shade of silk, or maybe a gilded mirror from the 1700s, or a rock crystal chandelier than you might have to look a little harder and not become distracted with all the other wonderful things you will find.
Great Listing of antique markets in France check out these links:
When is the best time to go antiquing in France?
Anytime. Antique markets are year round. When in France ask at the local Tourist Office for the nearest: Brocante (antique market), Marche aux Puces (Flea Market), or Vides des Grenier (garage sale like market).
Though I find May and September to be very good months for antiquing.
What should you bring?
Cash, since credit cards and foreign checks are not accepted. A large backpack or push cart to carry your purchases. A small notebook to write down what you bought, newspaper or bubble wrap to protect the items that you find and hand sanitizer because your hands will get dirty.
How do I ship my goods back home?
1) Post your purchases from the post office. You can purchase a pre paid box that holds 14 pound. It costs approx. $70. Or you can box your goods yourself in a box up to (but it can be smaller) three feet by three feet, not weighing more than 60 pounds. Cost approx $350.
2) If you are a passenger going or coming from France to the USA, or the USA to France. You can cargo frieght your goods home. You need to package your own goods and take them to the airport. Size and weight are unlimited. Though all items must be boxed and ready for shipping. Your purchases will be sent by cargo freight, door to door. Check out Bagages du Monde on the internet.The cost is per pound. You must be flying overseas.
3) Or you can pack your purchases in your suitcases. Check your airlines for size and weight limitations. Usually an extra suitcase cost around $80 for 50 pounds.
4) Contact Fed EX and have your items picked up wherever you are staying.
5) LTC or "Less Than Container" you can use an international transporter (most antique shops can lead you to one) a cubic meter can cost up to $1000. Delivery is up to eight weeks and often your will have a custom entry charge. If you buy items at a local antique/brocante fair you will need to take your goods to an international transporter. If you buy your goods at an international fair or at an Antique shop, the international transporters will pick up directly for you. International transporters can be found on the internet, or at most French antique shops.
A good source to finding antique fairs in France:
Five Golden Rules about Antiquing in France:
1) Say Hello before you ask, "How Much?"
2) Look inside of boxes, behind the table, antique hunting is about "hunting" looking beyond what is in front of you. Ask the dealer if he has another shop, warehouse, box...?
3) Never be afraid to ask the price, or think "Oh it will be too expensive."
4) Go as early as you can, the best deals often go first.
5) Always ask for a better price and be polite when doing so.
If you cannot come to France, or even if you can,
look at brocantes and antiques online.
are some good starting points.
If i can find something for you let me know.
If you have any questions, and or want to add your advice to antiquing in France please do so in the comment section below.