Monday, February 28, 2011

Bric à brac

Things that came home with us;
A brightly colored tablecloth, two tiles with vibrant flowers, a wooden toy for Lauris, a glazed flowerpot to hold our orchid,, “The Cat in the Hat Dictionary in French.”

Things that almost came home with us;
Giant ceramic platter in the shape of a fish.

Not much is open on a Sunday in Clermont-Ferrand. The occasional bakery or café, and the marché aux puces. Yet year round, rain or shine, on Sunday mornings the Place Gambetta and Place Salins fill up with vendors. From big trailers to tiny little hatchbacks, from items laid out on the ground to large displays, there are bargains to be had and junk (or treasure) to be bought!

The variety of vendors is the draw in this flea market. There is a man selling geodes he probably found himself, and an old woman selling her jams. At least half a dozen tables are selling every cell phone, computer, GPS and other charger that has ever been made. Antique books, comic books, children’s books; all kinds of books and all in French. Accessories and clothes, jewelry for your toes, the African art and the wine push-cart; vases, bowls, perfume and trolls, tarnished silverware and shoes without a pair! On one end there are a few food vendors; potatoes and carrots possibly dug up the previous day, mussels, locally-produced honey. Hungry now? Why not buy a big plate of sausage or truffade, cooked up on the spot, in pans a meter across. On the other end you can find brand new knives, postcards from Venice, collectible John Deere tractors and old toolboxes filled with unidentifiable metal chunks.

Flea markets aren’t for everyone, but most of my family are fans. In the States garage sales are abundant in the spring, consignment sales are a newer thing and there are even online classifieds like that specialize in gently used stuff. Roberts likes the occasional garage sale where he can rifle through old fishing lures. Years ago in Georgia, he deviated from lures, buying a white tux with tails from, as his business card proclaimed, “the junk man.” And me, I keep hoping to find that perfect painting, that funky old necklace or maybe just a little comfort in something that reminds me of home.

Of course there is also plenty of junk; useless tchotchkes that are the trademark of all flea markets. But the marché is full of shoppers, sellers, treasure-seekers, tourists and families out for a stroll. And all of them – bargain hunters and negotiators.  Final verdict – thumbs up. Something for everyone, if you don’t come for the junk, come for the atmosphere!


  1. What FUN! Es arī gribu....!

  2. Man liekās, ka bricbracs ir tā kā "the cream off the top" - vismaz tā mums parasti ir...šis man atgādina bricbracu kas bija mums pie nama! Mums jaunais 'hood' patīk, bet tirdziņš gan pietrūkst!

  3. Bric à brac arī var nozīmēt šis un tas.... Bet tagad jau daudzas nozīmes, tīmeklī atradu vismaz trīs! Un jā, liels FUN! Kad bûsiet ciemos, aiziesim!

  4. I go through periods of liking bric-a-bracs and then hating them. I think actually holding a stall myself put me off for a long time. It was a long day, freezing cold and surprisingly people were amazingly rude about the ridiculously low prices we were charging. Haggling over 20 cents for a toy etc. It put me off for a long time. However I was recently a tiny weeny bit tempted at a brocante in Cannes and maybe about to enter a pro bric-a-brac period!!! Thanks for linking this up to #AllAboutFrance

  5. March #AllAboutFrance is now open if you wan to join in


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