Monday, October 14, 2013

September 7 Saturday Morning Paris Flea Market/ Brocante

Sept 7, 2013

 If you're not interested in flea markets, antique hunting, this post may not interest you, and it will be long because it's what I love to do.
One of the many things on my wish list for this trip was to find some antique shops or flea markets (called brocantes in France) and see what kind of things they collect here. So we started out this morning by going to a flea market on the outskirts of Paris. We had been recommended of one by our tour guide yesterday but two different people said it was mainly furniture and told us to go to another one, which they claimed was the largest and oldest one in France. However they didn't recommend using the Metro as it drops you off in a bad part of town you have to walk through first. Our Hotel Concierge found the address of one business for a taxi to take us to and drop us off. It was only 15 minutes away and not that expensive. 
I had described what I was looking for to the Concierge and we both said accessories, he in the French pronounciation, but apparently their definition means decorations, not ribbons and trims like I was thinking. It turns out this was also mainly furniture and décor. Most of the furniture was very sleek, stylistic, vintagey, with some antique thrown in. The décor pieces were oversized. There were rows upon rows of small shops that looked like storage units that they pulled down sliding doors to close them. 
The "antique mall" where we were dropped off was a large warehouse type with dividing walls and narrow stalls with things for sell. Most weren't open yet. We walked down the street farther and found the other large mall which turned into little streets of small buildings and storage units. Rows and rows of them. And most weren't open yet. Their roll down doors were still rolled down. We just strolled up and down them, and checking out what was inside the ones that were open. Many were set up like little living rooms and very modern. Some were cluttered with art objects. An interesting one had stacks and stacks of etched glass mirrors, small 8x10 sizes up to ones the size of a dining table. The prices shocked me! The small ones were running 450Euros (or $700). I saw a few really cool looking decorations like the giant clock on the left side of the photo above next to the greenery. It was taller than most people. Probably from one of those giant clock towers but now its a wall decoration. They had lots of big stuff. But nothing really small enough to bring home in a suitcase. 

I started taking more photos of some of the store fronts and hoped to take some of the insides but after taking a couple we noticed the majority of them had signs that said No Photos. :( Bummer!   I took this one just before I saw the signs, so its a stealth photo. Inside were gowns, purses, and shoes from really famous makers from the 30s, 40s and 50s, at really famous prices! Did I say Chanel? *cough*  There was nothing under $200 that I could see. This is not the flea market I was expecting. 

This one was a gem though. 
This shop had just opened up at 9:30am, and things were set up outside that seemed the answer to my hopes of ribbon and lace and millinery flowers. There were buttons and laces, and I immediately started digging through them. The buttons were a little too modern but among some ribbons I found an ornate little buckle that still had a scrap of silk on it and picked that up. I walked inside to look around more and saw some antique bonnets, a pretty purple 1940s dress, a couple 1850s dresses hanging in the back, some jaw-dropping lengths of lace and collars, and turned in avid anticipation to the clerk. He didn't speak English but we were able to translate that the owner was due shortly and he couldn't sell anything. And we had to wait outside. So I handed him the buckle and said I was interested in it. We wandered around a bit, trying to decide how far to go away, and maybe not find our way back. It was that complicated. The clerk got a call 10 minutes later that she would be there in about 10 minutes. 20 minutes later she showed up, invited us in, and started bringing more things out. Boxes of lace, boxes of millinery flowers, mostly from 50s & 60s. I showed her the belt buckle and she asked for 10Euros ($13). Not too bad. But she wanted to sell the whole box of millinery flowers for 200E ($271) and I only wanted one flower from it. She had some beautiful cotton lace and collars but the cheapest was 150E. An 1863 straw spoon bonnet was 650E. I was surprised when everything there was extremely expensive. A pretty hat pin, while not really special, was 80E ($108). So all I walked away with was the buckle, which I plan to use on an 1830s dress.
We went back to the previous "mall" which turned out to be more little streets with cubicles and stalls with nothing I was interested in, until we came across one with tons of fans. It had glass cabinets with displays of them, along with jewelry. *sadly No Photos*  I asked the gentleman if he had any mourning fans and he pulled out some very ornate French ones. I thought they were a bit fancy for mourning but he said no they were. He has made his whole life a study of fans and really enjoyed pulling ones out to show me. I really wished I could have photographed him, and recorded everything he said, because it was so fast, I can't remember anything. So the images will have to remain in my poor little memory. But I loved talking to someone that was so educated on them. 

We kept walking and walking and sometimes turned into some unsavory streets and immediately turned around. One street was kind of a dead end, no shops but three men hanging about. The grafitti sent up some red flags, and my instinct said don't go that way, so even though hubby wanted to take the shortcut, I refused and we walked all the way back where we first came in. But along that way we found some more alleys that were booths divided by corrugated steel walls filled with smaller things, and I found two ladies in a booth that had some very pretty antique gowns. 

They had some passamentarie, feathers, buttons, some hat pins, and hats, and I explained what I was looking for. One lady spoke no English, and the other did. I finally brought out my costume photos to show them what I wanted to use trims for. They were very excited over seeing my photos and began pulling sequins, and heavy trims like I would compare to upholstery trims, so I had to do my own digging. They had some very aged & dry looking trims, none that I could use but had a few boxes of vintage feathers. I pulled out a long wired curly brown one, a short tufted black one with little circular curls and a maroon bird. All that came to 40E. I really liked one hat pin she had, kind of an Art Deco pattern on a disk, but at 80E it was just too much. Overall everything I saw was very expensive, mainly over 100-200E. And the majority of it I would never use for my costuming, or my home. 

Now it makes me wonder what that other flea market might have been like. 

We caught a cab back to the hotel then walked around the block to Mariage Freres Tearoom so I could buy some tea from there. 
They had some small tables outside, as most cafes here do, and about 4 inside. I would have loved to have tea but oh well. They had a huge wall of tea canisters and I began sniffing the samples until I found two I liked by smell, The' L'Opera, and Framboise. I would have loved to spend more time maybe getting to sample some but we had to get back to the hotel and get ready to take the Metro over to the Eiffel Tower for our tour. 

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