7 tips to shop like a pro at French flea markets.

Brocante, Vide-grenier, Marché aux puces … In France, every weekend is a great opportunity to wander amongst exciting vintage markets. I’m giving you my seven tips here to shop like a pro during your next trip to France!

1- BE THERE EARLY: This should be obvious but first arrived, first served! I know it’s Sunday morning and you probably want to enjoy your coffee and croissants in bed but the best pieces always fly out in the very early morning.

2- BE THERE LATE: No doubt the choice will be reduced and all the little gems will be gone but there is no better time for a real bargain. Let me tell you that when you get closer to ‘packing the car’ o’clock even the tougher dealer become more opened to negotiation!

3- BRING SOME COINS: Bring a lot of 1 and 2 euros coins. Most dealers don’t have much change and even if they do, they don’t like to let it go! If you want to bargain, it’s always much better to have the exact amount. For example if you want to negotiate a lovely café au lait bowl priced at 18euros, try to just count your coins, smile and add “Oh, 14 euros is all I have left.” Big chances the bowl will be yours for 14 euros. Obviously it won’t work if you then take your 50 euros note out of your pocket!

4- DRESS FOR THE OCCASION: You probably packed your suitcase like if France was a permanent fashion week but today it’s time to swap your Louboutin for your comfy worn sneakers and swap your Chanel for a good large shopping bag! First of all because nobody ever managed to fit an enamel coffee pot in the Chanel Boy bag and secondly because it won’t be so easy to negotiate a couple of euros when a 3000 euros bag is hanging on your shoulder!

5- STAY CALM: I know French flea market can be overwhelming sometimes. But clearly to jostle an old lady to rush toward that beautiful bread board yelling “OMG, I’ve been looking for one of these for sooooo long! ” is not going to help at all! No doubt you just loose any chance of negotiation and the dealer has even probably just doubled the price especially for you!

6- BRING A FRIEND: Ask someone to come with you, someone who will be happy to play the killjoy friend! This is a proven successful method when it comes to bargain so let me explain! For example, you like a lovely rusty utensil rack and want to buy it? Well, ask your friend to throw a couple of “But what are you going to do with this old rusty thing?” or “Where are you going to put this old stuff?” Done! The dealer knows he will have to make an extra effort to sell it to you. I usually bring my husband with me, he is such a natural at this game!

7- HAVE SOME FUN: Just have a good time and enjoy! Even if you don’t make any real bargain, brocantes are always a great occasion to immerse yourself in the French way of life.

Happy hunting! Bonne brocante!

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