What are Provence's bric-a-brac fairs and car boot sales like? And what can you find there?
If you're an exhibitor, it's time to get out your sales banter and play shop while chatting with your neighbouring stand holder, swapping stories with visitors or simply enjoying watching the people go by and lapping up the atmosphere.
If you're a buyer, it's a great opportunity to enjoy a family outing (or not) and savour the friendly atmosphere of a village, quarter or town; it's also a great chance to explore the pretty roads of Provence and discover its streets and inhabitants – although they may be hard to bargain with!
You'll truly love bargain-hunting at our vintage markets, even if it means getting up with the roosters!
Bric-a-brac fairs (brocantes) and car boot sales (vide-greniers): let's get the definitions right (so you're not disappointed and, especially, so you don't get up early for nothing!). The word bric-a-brac generally refers to professional second-hand fairs, whereas car boot sales are for private exhibitors.
As not everyone agrees on the semantics, most announcers are asked to stipulate what you can exhibit. In this article, we'll be referring to bric-a-brac for professional fairs and car boot sales or flea markets for private markets.
The word "bric-a-brac" generally refers to professional second-hand fairs, whereas car boot sales are for private exhibitors.
Get to know the locals around a coffee grinder, garlic crusher and trinkets in every shape and form!
If you love rummaging, heading off on adventures and hunting down bric-a-brac treasures, two villages in the Pays d’Aix area await you.
The Eguilles car boot sale is a must! The action starts at 5.30 in the morning, or maybe a bit later for some (but keep in mind that the best treasures are found early). Eguilles is set on a ledge at an altitude of 300 metres and has maintained its authentic character throughout the ages. The car boot sale is located at the foot of the village, so once the stalls have been emptied and put away, take the opportunity to climb up to the 17th-century castle or visit an artist's garden.
The second stop is Lambesc, which hosts a car boot sale every second Sunday of the month just a stone's throw from the town centre under the shelter of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church and its splendid dome. If you want to discover the heart of Provence and Pays d’Aix area, Lambesc is an excellent starting point. Just follow our travel guide.
So although we can't guarantee the morning will be fruitful and you'll find that special something, you can always enjoy the scenery...
Antique furniture, bric-a-brac, decorative objects, paintings
Although car boot sales have an undeniable charm, let's not fool ourselves, they are often something of a merry mess. If you'd like to roam alleyways overflowing with ravishing testimonials to Provence's heritage, we recommend the Dimanches des Antiquaires. Every first Sunday of the month from March to November, on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, around 50 professional bric-a-brac and antiques dealers set up shop in the shade of the plane trees lining the town's most famous avenue.
The Aubagne antique fair takes place on the last Sunday of every month at Espace des Libertés. This event welcomes over 120 exhibitors throughout the year. Professionals and the general public alike even benefit from advice from an expert - and it's free of charge (although no estimates are given)!
For lovers of old books, stamp collectors and card collectors
If you're one of them, Cours Julien in Marseille is definitely the place to be and the place to go. An antique and second-hand book fair takes place there on one Saturday a month, together with a stamp market every Sunday - a great opportunity to discover this trendy quarter, overflowing with designer boutiques, book shops (you'll also find them in our Cours Julien Shopping Tours), bars and cafes, where community spirit and innovative ideas have pride of place.
The Holy Grail for some of you! You'll be able to hunt down some treasures in Marseille's Quartier des Antiquaires antiques quarter at the quarterly Bric-a-brac and Antiques Day: 70 exhibitors, second-hand merchants and antiques dealers have been getting together here for over 20 years to sell their wares. The quarter is entirely pedestrian and the ancient shop windows offer a genuine voyage back in time! And if you don't want to take our word for it, you'll find most of the antiques dealers on our tour entitled Marseille Préfecture, in the footsteps of Marseille's locals.
Shop my closet!
If you're a recycled fashion addict or simply looking for some designer clothes, shoes and accessories at friendly prices, Paris isn't the only place you'll find shop my closet sales! Le Paulette Market is a giant, top-notch second-hand clothing sale attracting huge crowds in Marseille! The next one will be taking place on Saturday December 9th at the Mama Shelter. And if you're selling, you can sign up directly on the website.
Time to eat outside
Picnics are a great way to escape from routine and spend some quality time with friends, family or your partner. Whether you opt for the seaside, a park or vineyard, they are an ode to simple pleasures and sharing.
Time to row
Fancy grabbing your paddle and swishing off to the translucent waters of En-Vau fjord? Test your biceps with a kayak tour of the myriad of fjords dotted along the coast between Cassis and Marseille.