19 June 2015

Shopping at a Vide Grenier

As I mentioned before, I try not to do too much shopping ...

Keeping an eye on the funds, and such. And of course, this is not to mention that anything purchased must find a way to get back to the States. But I tell you, sometimes it is just too hard to resist.

Brocante stores are my most favorite. They are like un-fancy antique stores. Curated, older stuff but not the expensive frou-frou business. The other fun option is a Vide Grenier, which literally translates to "Empty Attic." It's very much like our garage sales, but done as a community in a village where many people bring their wares. A lot of it is junk. A lot. But if you are lucky ...
... you'll find some real gems. The above are my purchases from this weekend's Vide Grenier visit. It was a good one. Everything pictured came in at 20 euros which is less than $25. And that print is a numbered engraving of Normandy. So fun.
Much like a community garage/yard sale in the States, you wander about and scan for items that catch your eye. In general, you usually make eye-contact with the seller and do a head-bob or "bonjour," out of respect. If you want to touch something, a quick inquiring glance and a smile will give you permission to do so. It's subtle, but again, a respect thing. Diving in and manhandling all their stuff isn't much appreciated.
I saw lots of these milk containers. It's cow country! I kind of wanted one but didn't think it would tuck easily into a carry-on. Heh, heh.

I also saw wooden butter churns and lots of brass and copper. See the little pot at the bottom of the photo? Love.

Oh! And I saw a cow that got loose from a field and was casually strolling one of the roads, like he had some shopping to do, until he veered off and went into someone's backyard. I can't tell you how much I wish I had a photo of it, but I was transfixed by the whole situation.

I don't think there is a lot of haggling going on. Maybe a smidge, but not too much. I always worry about insulting the seller, especially if it's not that much money to begin with. Somehow haggling over a 4 euro item seems weird. I remind myself that even if they might knock 50 centimes or a euro off ... it's not that much money and chances are they could probably use it. 

You may recognize the top paddle from the first photo. It came home with me. (Fun to serve cheese on, I think!) I thought it was some kind of butter paddle, but the older man explained that you would kneel in that wooden box, lean over, and work large amounts of bread dough with the paddle, kneading it up up against the exterior side of the box that you are leaning over. Fascinating.

I joked, asking if it was ever used "pour les enfants" and make a smacking motion, to which I was rewarded with an uproarious laugh and response: "Mais, non! Pour votre mari!" ... But no! For your husband! 

It was all very funny.

I find it so enjoyable to wander through these village events. The pace is slow and friendly and I always love a treasure hunt. 

And when you are done, you just meander back through the streets and find your car parked right where you left it ... on the side of the road in front of a little French cottage.

** PS - I am most excited about the little white and blue box in the top photo. I was surprised that no one in my family knew what it was right away. Any guesses??


  1. In Quebec they'd call such a box " un cabin de maringuouins" which translated means a house for mosquitos. LOL I have no idea what else it could be but noticed it right away.

    This looks like such a nice relaxing way to spend the afternoon.


    1. That's a riot! The box is actually for matches. The blue ridged spot on top is for striking them. I think it would be really fun for a kitchen !

  2. I love those type of sales! Such fun!

  3. Oh I love markets like this, we have something here called The Brooklyn Flea which is kind of similar.

    Allie of ALLIENYC

    1. I didn't know about this! We were in Brooklyn last year and really enjoyed ourselves.

  4. I have no idea. Maybe Suzanne has got it right.

    1. Hi, Lisa! I just responded to Suzanne ... ;)

  5. I wish I could stroll through that with you! SO neat!

  6. I wish I could stroll through that with you! SO neat!