There are an estimated 15,000 markets found across France — it can be hard to know where to begin! Whether you’re in search of rare collectibles or a special souvenir, antique fairs in France are well-stocked, full of history and offer inimitable brocante experiences.
In our Sep/Oct 2021 issue, we feature a comprehensive guide to the best antique fairs in France, selected by region, but you can find a few of our favorites below. For the full list – get your copy here!
Île-de-France: Foire de Chatou
Twice a year, the Île des Impressionnistes — accessible by metro or 10 minutes from Paris by car — welcomes some 35,000 visitors for the Foire de Chatou. One of the most important and celebrated antiques fairs in the world, 700 dealers with an impressive range of specialties gather to exhibit over 12 days, creating a nearly 10-acre stretch of treasures to be unearthed. In addition to featuring décor, the fair also offers the chance to refuel with gastronomic delights from local farmers. Think Corsican sausages, oysters from Brittany, cheese from Savoy and more. This year marks the fair’s 101st edition.
Spring & fall
Hauts-de-France: Braderie de Lille
For an antiquing experience like no other, make sure to visit the Braderie de Lille. Every first weekend of September, this northern capital becomes a mecca of antiques and bargain hunting, welcoming a whopping two to three million visitors. With thousands of vendors, it dates back to the Middle Ages and is one of the largest fairs on the continent. Known for its friendly, festive atmosphere, the massive two-day event is also a French foodie’s paradise — don’t miss trying moules frites (mussels and fries), the traditional dish of the Braderie (you’ll see the city’s restaurants go head-to-head in competitions involving piles of shells).
First weekend in September
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: Puces du Canal, Lyon
A “village within a city,” les puces of Lyon invite you to travel back in time along the Canal de Jonage. Arrive early morning to find more than 600 peddlers setting up charmingly eccentric spreads on makeshift tables and blankets, but don’t let these informal set-ups fool you — if you’re willing to dig, you’re sure to come across some valuable finds, particularly items with a connection to the region and its historic trades, such as tools for making chocolate or wine and spindles for old sewing machines. You’ll also find a variety of collectibles in the form of glass and copper kitchenware, garden essentials, artwork, books and toys.
Throughout the year
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: Brocante de Carpentras
Every Sunday, professional collectors and casual browsers alike gather in the shade of the plane trees at theBrocante De Carpentras looking for a deal. Unlike many of its counterparts, this charming market is appreciated for its manageable size and relatively uncrowded experience — the number of stalls varies throughout the year but rarely exceeds 200. The majority of goods are standard second-hand objects at bargain prices, but it’s worth a dig to uncover an overlooked diamond in the ruff. This fair is a must-visit for those who love a story along with their sale — friendly vendors are quick to engage in conversation, offering up interesting tidbits about objects’ origins.
Throughout the year
Centre-Val de Loire: Brocante de Chambord
Regarded as one of the most beautiful brocantes in France, visitors flock to Chambord each May to explore three miles of alleyways brimming with gems. The massive one-day event, which welcomes some 500 choice exhibitors and 50,000 attendees, takes place on the southern parterre of the city’s stunning Renaissance-style château — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — a truly majestic setting. The objects on offer, which range from the late 19th century until the 1990s, are diverse; find everything from oil paintings to upcycled clothing, old cameras to furniture to earthenware and more. When you’re done hunting, tour the castle and enjoy regional delicacies at the marché du terroir, held in the stables.