Sunday, March 19, 2017

How to shop for Vintage French on tour


How to bag a French
 Vintage bargain
 AND get it home

Original paintings prepared for tapestry designs at Aubusson, too many to choose from!
Typical sign for a Brocante

Who doesn’t love shopping and who doesn’t love everything French Provincial?

The great news is that fabulous French vintage doesn’t actually cost a lot to buy you just need to be shown where to find it. 

First of all you will need to know what a Brocante is.

So what’s a Brocante? A Brocante in short is an extremely attractive shop full of gorgeous old French things where you will most likely want to buy everything and take it all home.

To the naked eye, a French Brocante can vary in appearance from looking like a shop full of French antiques, or a bric a brac shop, to looking like a second-hand shop. One thing they have in common is that they are all full of amazing and fascinating items and you are going to have to get an iron will to resist the buying temptation.

They generally turn up on the roadside or in villages or are well kept secrets only the locals seem to know about tucked away in old mill on the river, or in an industrial area. They host a range of items such as;

  • ·    fabulous oak furniture being sold for a song 
  •     Chandeliers

  • ·        vintage thick linen sheets many of them ornately monogrammed
Original Monogrammed linen sheets, 8 for 50 euros or $75 Aussie dollars

Antique linen French tea towels in as new condition ready to use

  • ·       antique porcelain from Limoges selling for a lot less than it does in the present day
  • ·       paintings by French artists, buy your own original French Impressionist painting
  • ·       items from fabulous old French houses
  • ·       rustic items from farm houses
  • ·       ornaments
  • ·       glassware
  • ·       silver
  • ·       vintage jewellery
  • ·       kitchen items
  • ·       enamelware
  • ·       tablecloths and tea towels straight from the dowry chest unused
  • ·       printed items
  • ·       French toys
  • ·       Ceramic ware
  • ·       Fine china
Pretty bowls. Dammit I should have bought them!

Boudoire ceramic jugs and bowls typically sell for between 20 and 60 euros

Visiting Brocantes is part and parcel of French Art School Tour as we tootle along on our tour and as I have visited many Brocantes in the Limousin area where we are staying, I know how to locate some great finds to maximise your time and experience. 

We are bound to visit at least two in our schedule of gardens, chateaus, painting, some art museums and more.
Here are some examples of what myself and others picked up on the last tour;

Deco plates going for a song

Detail of carving from an armoire or cupboard.
With the bed, and side table included the total was $120 Aussie

  • ·      8 thick linen sheets approximately queen size, some monogrammed for 50 euros (approximately $75 Aussie and they are the REAL DEAL and you can’t buy linen like that anymore. They are used but look ready to go again as thick and natural and wash up perfectly. Use as they are or make them into something else like bed covers, cushion covers and table clothes. You can typically find original linen in many Brocantes. Often by the box load.

  • Genuine Limoges porcelain coffee pot and cups and saucers with floral designs $30 Aussie dollars, entire set. A new Limoges coffee cup can set you back 50 euros for one cup so great bargains can be found.

  •  Original framed oil painting of Blue Hydrangeas by a 1940’s French artist $180 Aussie dollars
  • · Chandelier with crystal tear drops for $100 Aussie dollars that fit in a box and was taken on as an additional piece of baggage by one of our travellers determined to haul a significant piece of France home.
  •  Assortment of pewter goblets and cups with bas relief, very crusty rustic and stylish, approx. $35

  •  Assortment of original thick oversize pure linen tea towels with red stripe from early 1900’s never used, in original packets, $20 for a selection. I think these must have come from someone’s trousseau.
  • ·       Stunning pair of elegant brass pheasant suited for a mantel piece decoration approx. $80 for the pair

  • ·       Three late 19th century china bowls with rustic scenes in pink on cream $15 Aussie

  • ·       Farmhouse style ceramic urn well suited for kitchen implements $15 Aussie

As you can see, these purchases were not expensive. I know if I tried buying a French linen table cloth from early 20th century still in its original packaging in Australia the price may start at $300 however the one I bought was $80 Aussie, huge and embroidered ornately in stylish white. 
I’m off to find a large see through table cloth protector so I can use it indefinitely.

Great bargains abound, just take your time to sniff them out!

Jac’s tips
for French vintage shopping

Aubusson 'cartoon' or painting design fpr the tapestry on canvas now sold mounted at Aubusson

DO leave home with room in your bags to bring items back so you don’t go over baggage limits. If you aren’t sure if you’ll wear it, leave it at home! We have washing machines and a clothes dryer at the villas so you can always wash your clothes whilst on the tour and recycle.

DO bring a small fold a way back pack in case you need to take some items in your carry-on luggage to relieve the maximum weight in your main bag.

DON’T WORRY I always bring my bag scales so you can check your baggage weight on tour if uncertain.

If you are packing china, you can pack them with your socks and undies as the packaging materials!

Aubusson vintage tapestry designs- you can still buy them today

A chateau selling rustic goods 

Marie Millhouse weighs up if she can fit the armoire in her suitcase or not

If you would like to join us we have just a few places left for our group which is an absolute maximum of 10 lucky people.

For the full itinerary see the blog post below.

To reserve your place contact Karen Caba who is currently travelling but responding to your emails;

Total for land package FRENCH ART SCHOOL with Jacqueline Coates
Paris and  theCreuse , Limousin
Airfares additional. Max of 10 guests. Many inclusions see full tour itinerary.
Meet up at the Hotel booked for the itinerary in Paris.


ECM Travel management reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary as needs be. 

Karen Caba; Australia  +61 0411 603 948 or contact Karen on Email

Karen Caba
Elite Conference Management and Travel
11 Dalkeith Close
Wheelers Hill   VIC  3150

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A bientot!
See you soon!

Jacqueline Coates

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