The established antique dealer will already know his way around Paris, the major cities and the antiques/brocante fairs. However for the small dealer or the individual who may be new to this or on a learning curve, this article endeavours to give some guidance.

There are several places to buy, similar to the UK, so before you go a study of possible routes or places you wish to visit is essential. The magazine I use to establish an itinerary is “Aladin” where you will find ” l’Agenda des Chineurs”, (a list or diary of events). Les chineurs is used rather loosely to cover antique dealer or hunter, professional or amateur. This magazine is full of useful information, their web site is You can subscribe or just extract information for the immediate future.

There are essentially two reasons for going to France 1.To buy or 2.To enjoy the ambiance of France and buy some antiques/collectables at the same time. Whatever the reason, it is still necessary to establish where you are going and for how long. Don’t forget France is a big country, albeit well served with motorways but it still takes time and money (tolls, fuel etc.) to travel.

You will need a good up to date road map of France, preferably in book form to make it easy to read in the car, a list and map of the “Departments”. France is divided into about 100 departments and these numbers are used by most people to define where their activity is located, i.e. 66 is Pyrenees – Orientales and the post code will also start with this number, just insert French departments in the search box and you can download the map. So with a good road map and the department map you can start to plan.

You must decide which part of France you wish to visit or you will have to do some research using “L’Agenda des Chineurs” to make this decision. Whatever you choose you must decide if you are visiting shops or fairs, or a combination of both. As far as shops are concerned many advertise in ‘Aladin’, others in yellow pages, “” and there is a very good website at Antique shops are similar to those in the UK, run by professional dealers often specialists: the antique centre as we know it hardly exists. To find brocante shops your search engine is a good source as well as Keep asking in hotels, information centres and dealers you meet, they are all full of information about the area.

The decision to visit markets or fairs gives you a wide choice, marches hebdomaires (weekly), marches mensuels (monthly) or any number of fairs scattered throughout France similar to UK. These are listed under ‘Calendrier des Manifestations’ by department, town and type of fair. This is why that department map is so important. Choosing which fairs to aim for depends on your goals, ‘Professionels’ are usually the classic antique fair with specialist dealers or ‘Brocante’ (bric-a-brac), these two are often combined. Vide Greniers (empty loft) like a boot fair, but usually in the street with local inhabitants selling off anything. Foire au Puce is a flea market and may be found anywhere. Deballages Marchands is a large display of merchandise aimed at the dealer and normally there are one thousand or more dealers similar to Newark in the UK. These are often reserved for dealers, but if you have a trade card you’ll get in.

The majority of fairs are at the weekend but like the UK there are some during the week which should not be ignored. The large deballages are during the week. Many fairs are held on public holidays and attract many visitors. Of course you may decide to stay in Paris and visit all the brocante outlets there – many are well advertised and famous like St.Ouen (Clignancourt) open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There are antique quarters like ‘Louvres de Antiquaires’, in the rue de Rivoli. There are many fairs in Paris advertised in the Aladin magazine. Use your search engine to find antiques, brocante and puces, there is an abundance of information. Don’t forget it is more difficult to find bargains in Paris because it is a Mecca for dealers worldwide.

Having decided your route, check the towns you will pass through and lookup antiques and brocante in, and use the internet. Don’t forget to ask at the hotel you are staying at, the tourist office and other dealers. Sometimes you will discover the odd one not on the main routes. Beware that brocante on tourist routes can mean high prices.

You can combine visits to the brocante/antique shops during the week with weekday fairs. You should be able to plan one or two weeks taking in many fairs and shops as you wish whilst still enjoying the ambiance. After all this you need to look at the costs involved, fuel for the round trip, ferry if from UK/Ireland (go for mid week deals), hotels (wide variation in cost but book if going in the tourist season, sleeping in the car is not a good idea if you are working), Tolls on motorways, (these soon mount up), car insurance for EU travel and don’t forget the contents. EU medical card (free) makes life easier at hospitals and doctors even if you have to pay. You can get reimbursed in the UK.

The economics for the small dealer are clear, if your costs are £1000.00 and you want to sell your stock at double your purchase price you need to buy £1000.00 to break even! You can do your own sums on this, but remember your travel costs are fixed and it is the profit margin that will pay for the trip, as well as giving you some clear profit. However the sums are straight forward, the more you buy, and sell at a profit the more economical the trip will be. Don’t forget you still have to sell it!

Leaving stock in the car overnight is not a good idea unless you are in secure parking (available at some hotels), but take many holdalls and boxes so you can take the stock with you at night Yes, it is worth it! Obviously with large items you must decide the risk.

There are other sources of brocante, antiques and the unusual in, Trocs and a charity called Emmaus scattered around the country. Worth popping in if passing but do not make a detour. These are essentially second hand shops but do often have the odd gem in their “smalls” department. The rules on buying are the same as always, no damage, no repairs and ask is it genuine? I have not mentioned auctions (enchères) which are similar in most countries and there is no reason why you should not go to these. They are time consuming and only you can decide if you can fit them in to your schedule. Again Aladin lists many of these. Overall buying in France is fun and the above information is based on my own experiences.

By yanam49

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