Like many people, I love to visit garage sales (in USA), car boot sales (in UK) or flea markets. Here in France they are called a ‘vide grenier’. It literally translates as ’empty attic’. But what makes them different then the American or UK counterpart is that the whole town or village participates.
When and Where
The village determines a date, usually in late spring or early summer. Now and then there is a rogue vide grenier in early spring or even autumn. Sundays are the typical day, but don’t rule out Saturdays, or holidays. There are even some villages that have a regular monthly vide grenier.
Usually the entire village centre is shut down and everyone sets up their unwanted stuff outside their house. Or, if they do not live in the village centre, they are given a marked space within. If you ever find yourself travelling through a village in France, look down and you will probably see the remnants of lines on the road designating old selling spaces.
Where we live, the vide grenier is part of its village fete. Marching band parades, marksmanship competitions, tasty treats, merry go rounds as well as the stalls of sellers give a truly fun atmosphere to the day.
Who is There
Most of the village participates, and sometimes there are professional sellers too . The stall lined streets are shut down to all but pedestrians. There will be food tents and sometimes games or rides for the kids. It becomes very much like a carnival atmosphere.
Often a vide grenier can have over 100 participants, which translates into many hours of happy shopping. A good portion of the reason I love having my shop is having an excuse to go to these events and search for vintage and antique items. Each visit always promises the possibility to find something truly unique and/or especially French.
Shop ’til You Drop
I adore that a vide grenier gives me a ready excuse to shop ‘til I drop. As well though, there is the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of a little village, possibly never seen before, and a chance to talk with locals.
If you are coming to France and would like to visit a Vide Grenier, there are a couple of very good websites, listed and linked below, to find when and where they happen. The also have helpful maps so you can see what is near where you are staying. And note – check up on the weather. Rain can cancel a vide grenier at a moment’s notice.
Some Finds at Pumpjack & Piddlewick
And here is a taste of some vide grenier finds, now found in our Pumpjack & Piddlewick shop.