Antiques & flea markets

From spring to autumn, weekends in Provence are a time to hunt for antiques and bric-a-brac at the brocantes and vide greniers. These are outdoor markets selling everything from valuable antiques to whatever was found up in the attic when spring cleaning.

Every weekend one or more of the villages will have organised a brocante or vide grenier. On a bigger scale are the ones in towns like Avignon and Orange. At l'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which is second only to Paris in number of antique dealers, there is a brocante every weekend and on Sunday morning there is a big market too.

Some definitions: a brocante tends to be more antiques, sold by professional dealers. Vide grenier means 'empty the attic', and is basically anything that is no longer wanted in the house, so this is a collection of stalls manned by individuals selling their own stuff. As such this ranges from electrical fuses, to clothing, to toys outgrown by children, to the occasional delightful find you absolutely have to have, at very cheap prices.

When to go - go early to get ahead of the dealers, but at a vide grenier there is something to be said for going late, the prices will come tumbling down because stall-holders can't face taking items back to the attic for another year.

To be fair, most of the things we have bought at vide greniers are now collecting dust in the shed, but it was fun looking, sifting through the vast jetsam of unwanted everyday objects to unearth the occasional gleaming jewel.

For listings of brocantes and vide greniers in the Vaucluse department, go here: