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Vide Greniers the Real World's e-Bay

vide grenier France
A Vide-Grenier - Summer Lifeblood for Towns and Villages
Throughout France

Vide Greniers & Brocantes the Lifeblood of a French Summer
Long before the internet and e-bay's electronic alternatives, flea markets, car boot, jumble and bric-a-brac sales were and remain, a source of pin money for students and pensioners, a career for some and enduring entertainment for holidaymakers and visitors.

Witness the haggling at Braderie de Lille, Europe's biggest flea market, where, over the first weekend in September each year, two million stallholders set up a market that dates from medieval times when servants were allowed just one day a year to sell off their master’s unwanted goods.

While some reports suggest the street market is dying under the onslaught of electronic trading, many others defend the tradition. They say the ability to see and touch the goods, to have face-to-face contact with the owner and to barter are all reasons why the virtual marketplace will never replace the real world street stalls.

Indeed one popular French website Le Bon Coin has challenged e-Bay and now dominates in France. Its success in beating the Americans is because it is an on-line imitation of the Vide-grenier. It offers visitors an interactive map allowing users to select the corner of France that is closest to them and do their online buying and selling from people in the neighbourhood.

A PriceMinister report in March this year claimed the Internet has now replaced vide-greniers as the best place to sell attic trash and treasure, taking 36% of all second hand sales in 2009, up from 29% in 2008 while Vide-greniers account for just 27% of such sales. PriceMinister, bills itself as the largest guaranteed Vide-grenier in France

Not only are Vide-grenier's a great source for treasure large and small, but they can also be life changers as Danielle and Robert Girard a pair of entrepreneurs from Apt in the Vaucluse département (84400) attest.

Danielle and Robert Girard - Falbala Luminaires
Danielle and Robert Girard - Falbala Luminaires

Falbala Luminaires
Danielle and Robert set up an artisan's atelier -- Falbala Luminaires in Apt --eight years ago, designing and hand making artisan lamps, lighting and lampshades. They confess to drawing much inspiration from the treasure troves they found visiting Vide-greniers around the country. "Our raw material stock for our first year's production was collected in the region and from then on we have never looked back", they said.

"We started out with no clear idea of where we were going collecting odds and ends from vide greniers and then started by restoring some crystal chandeliers. We moved on to design and craft handmade lampshades, taking bespoke orders and by word of mouth and some good contacts began selling to wealthy visitors and residents in the region. We also retailed some of the famous designer names-- Béatrice Desrousseaux, Jieldé, Charlot & Cie, and so on in the early days. But today we restrict ourselves to our own designs as these have earned a good reputation," said Robert.

Now clients come to the little atelier from all over Europe and the United States and they ship their unique hand made pieces around the world.

As their website says... "We create unique lighting from battered or new relics, some made of nickel, or coated in zinc, or copper or even badly rusted. We assemble all the elements harmoniously and above all in a style that we ourselves like. We offer new life to damaged, old or dear lamps and we restore ramshackle crystal chandeliers to their former glory. We custom make and create our own models of lampshades, preferably using recycled materials, but also using new fabrics."

To visit their website, Falbala Luminaires- click here

Read more and leave a comment on this Feature in the Newsroom here

More Information/Links
For more information about where to find brocantes and Vide greniers around the country, you can click the following links to open a new window to these websites...


Cité de la Dentelle Lace City
Cité de la Dentelle - Lace City exhibition
until 7 November 2010 Calais

Calais celebrating its famous Lace traditions
Among other materials that they find at Vide-greniers, the Girard's (above) use old French-made lace in refurbishing lamps and creating lampshades. Calais is the centre of the family-run French lace industry and among the best known of all French lace makers is Noyon Dentelles which styles itself the world leader in Calais lace making.   

Through to November 7, 2010 Calais, branded as the International City of Lace and Fashion, is hosting "Spirit Lingerie" the second major exhibition of its kind in the Cité de la Dentelle (or City of Lace as Calais now daintily calls itself). The exhibition offers a montage of cult movies - especially from the 1950s - which are a living advertisement for lace. Contemporary artistic creations making use of this material are also on display.

Calais lace is globally renowned  and its famous Leavers looms , virtually unique in the world, are the heart of the Calais and Caudry industry which sells its white frills under the "Calais Lace ®" trademark. The 15, mostly family-run companies, which continue the lace making tradition, have survived the onslaught of synthetics and mass produced fabrics by adapting and modernising.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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