A good portion of the reason I love having my shop is the search for items. A chance to shop ‘til I drop, but also not keep. Like many people, I love to visit garage sales / car boot sales, except here, they are called ‘vide grenier’. It literally translates as ’empty attic’. And what is really different is the whole town or village participates.
The village determines a date, usually in early summer. Now and then there is a rogue vide grenier in early spring or even autumn. Most of the village participates, and sometimes there are professional sellers too . Often 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. If you ever find yourself travelling through a village in France, look down, you will probably see the remnants of lines on the road designating vide grenier spaces.
There will be food tents (with long snaking queues) 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.
If you are coming to France and would like to visit a Vide Grenier, there are a couple of very good sites to find when and where they happen. The also have helpful maps so you can see what is near where you are staying.