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Going to flea markets in France is a national hobby.

If you’re on holiday in France, going to a brocante, vide grenier of marché aux puces as they’re called, is a terrific way to experience the culture of an area and get to know the locals.

Browse, bargain and buy

Flea markets generally take place on weekends and national holidays. They might be held just in the morning, all day long, or at night. If we’re talking about the Braderie Lille in northern France - that one goes on for some 36 hours non-stop and is the biggest flea market in Europe with around 10,000 stalls.

Some flea markets are regular affairs like the famous Monday antiques market of Nice, held in the colourful Cours Saleya. Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in Provence is a whole town of antique shops that are open year-round. In Paris there are several regular flea markets such as the Marché aux Puces at Saint-Ouen where there are around 2000 shops and dealers spreading out over 10 miles.

Find a flea market

A wander round a local flea market will generally reveal the contents of a local loft or cellar and then some. Professional antique dealers might also be present (and more costly of course). You’re sure to come across plenty of tat but you might just find something that will be the perfect souvenir to take home.

Textiles, table cloths, pieces of lace, antiques, glass, tin coffee jugs, copper utensils, giant clocks, books and magazines – they’re all common sites at a flea market, plus a whole lot more. If kitchenalia is your thing, then a flea market is bound to float your boat. Old furniture, paintings, kids’ toys, hundred-year-old posters, ancient postcards – you never know what you’ll find at flea market.

Usually there will be a barbecue or street food, somewhere to rest and grab a bite or a glass of wine in the shade and watch the browsers. It’s a great way to spend a few hours and get to know a place better.

If you want to know how to find a flea market near where you’re on holiday, ask your host or check on the French website brocabrac.fr… and leave some room in the car to take home your French memento! 

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