Brocant markets in France
In a stunning forest setting in the Charente is the welcoming and historic country house in which Madeleine (above) and Jo have created a stunning Chambre d’hotes – Montaurand private suite. The house is a wonderful mix of Gustavian and Scandi chic and reflects the hosts unique sense of style and design. Their love of design means that they are passionate about exploring the local Brocante markets where you can wander the stalls and pick up some fabulous finds; from antique lamps to sideboards to stuffed birds (see Eric below..). In this blog Jo and Madeleine share some of their knowledge.
Tell us a bit about brocante markets
Amidst the cultural glories of France, the vineyards, the restaurants and the ever present history, visiting Brocante markets is one of the favourite pastimes.
It is a fabulous way to see the countryside and find yourself some amazing decorative antiques and furniture often if you are luckyat rock bottom prices.
Montaurand sits right on the border of the two biggest Brocanting areas – The Charente and Dordogne where every weekend in the summer there a large numbers of Brocante markets selling everything from bric-à-brac to high value antique pieces.
Nearly every village and town has at least one Brocante during the summer season as it’s a great way to draw visitors to their environs and so you can get to see stunning hill top villages, amazing countryside and cosy hamlets that you would otherwise miss.
There is always a fun buzz at Brocantes as you walk around the stalls laden with interesting pieces of history and glamour with the sound of sizzling food as the locals cook up local sausage and hams to go with the flowing beer and coffee.
It is also an incentive to try local restaurants many of whom will open specially for the Brocante, often with a special menu so great food abounds.
Are there different types of Brocante market?
There are generally two kinds of Brocante – a “vide grenier” which means “loft clearance” and a genuine Brocante.
The vide grenier is a more classy version of the car boot sale and you can, if you are patient and have the eye, find some incredible bargains and rare pieces.
The Brocante is a more specialist antiques market where you will find lots of professional dealers and Brocanteurs selling great quality antiques and design items at a range of prices – you have to be quick though as the professional antiques hunters will be there at 5am as the stalls set up to find the really special pieces.
Brocantes and vide greniers range in size from maybe 50 stalls to the huge fairs at places like Marsac just north of Angouleme which once a year hosts a huge market spread across five fields with over 500 stalls selling every possible type of antique and modern classics that you can imagine. It can be quite overwhelming to be presented with so much stuff to look at so fortunately there are pop up food tents and wine stalls to help you relax between bouts of shopping.
Where are the main markets and how can you help us find an amazing piece?
Brantome, Bergerac, Angouleme, Perigueux all host major Brocantes during the year with incredible pieces for sale and the spring Brocante in Bordeaux is stunning both in the choices it offers and the lovely setting next to the river.
At Montaurand we specialise in Brocanting and can help you plan your Brocante trips: providing a calendar of Brocantes, telling you which are the best to visit, where to eat and advising you on prices and how the haggling system works as you never, ever, accept the first price!
We have a wonderful piece – a taxidermy heron called Eric – that we first saw at a Brocante with a heavy price tag. Over two further Brocantes, the price dropped and dropped until finally we got him for a great price and he will now join you for breakfast each morning at Montaurand (below).