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 masters unwanted goods.
While some reports suggest the street market is dying under the
onslaught of electronic trading, many others defend the tradition.
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
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
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.
bills itself as the largest guaranteed Vide-grenier in
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 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
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."
their website, Falbala Luminaires- click here
Read more and leave a comment on this Feature in the
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
until 7 November 2010 Calais
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
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
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.
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.