grain-sacksThe weather is fine and spring cleaning is under way. Time to purge with a vide grenier (empty the attic), a kind of communal garage sale.

While some purge, others acquire. One man’s junk is another’s gold.

I know a few people who would love that dog.

Antique shops and brocantes (lower-end antique shops) are fun to visit, but the real bargains are to be had at the vide grenier, where gems are truffled among masses of consumer mistakes, but prices for the two are about the same.


Guess that didn’t work out

Cast-iron plaque for the back of a fireplace. Weighs a ton.

We scored a pair of bronze candlesticks that had been converted into lamps…and must be rewired completely. But the holes have been drilled, which is the hardest part.

A lace-making kit, a horn, a can opener. Of course.
A sweet dessert plate
And a racier version

Did you know that a wooden shoe is a sabot, worn by the working class, probably because they are nearly indestructible? And that saboter at first meant to bungle or be clumsy or noisy, because it’s hard to be elegant in wooden clogs. Then sabotage, or the act of saboter, came to mean deliberately introducing errors in one’s work or destroying industrial machinery. According to my Larousse dictionary.


More than antiques are on offer.

The sign is for rabbits for sale
Cute hats

But old stuff rules. Maybe because it was built to last.

A collection of copper
WHO IS THIS GUY? It looks a little like Charles de Gaulle, but not quite.

History can be cruel. One is great enough to be commemorated in a bust, only to end up in a red plastic bin at a mass yard sale.

The clock is called a comtoise, usually found in kitchens.


Old books, including many plays.

There’s entertainment.

You could call it rhythm and blues

But the best part is the attention paid to lunch. While numerous stands hawk grilled sausage sandwiches, crêpes and churros, most vendors come well-equipped.

Lunch is served at a table, with a tablecloth, real dishes and silverware, wine served in wine glasses, everybody seated on real chairs. Just because it’s a picnic doesn’t mean one must be uncomfortable.

Lunch break

We saw one table–a sturdy round one, covered by a neatly ironed tablecloth–that seated eight, and they were enjoying their lunch fully. It was fine to inquire about prices of their wares, but wait a minute while the seller swallows.

Note the proper wine glasses filled with red.

This joie de vivre is irrepressible in the French. Being reminded of it, at stall after stall, was the best gem I took away from the vide grenier.

37 thoughts on “Treasure Hunt

  1. We have a Sabotier in our village … I had not made the connection to sabotage! I love the fire back – all in good time, I remind myself …. we still have much to do at Maison Catastrophe before we can indulge in pretty things ….

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Interesting …. yes, I know a sabot is a clog – the fellow who makes them is quite a character. I can’t imagine anything more uncomfortable but he assures me I should try them!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m one of the many who would love that dog!
    Why is it that there is a Law of Vide Greniers that states the items that you would actually consider buying are always at events that you are not visiting?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, the odds of finding what you want are better if you can hit multiple vide greniers. And it’s odd–sometimes the big ones have so many great things for sale, and other times, it’s the little ones, where villagers are really emptying grandma’s attic.


  3. My beau-père had a pair of those wooden sabots for gardening that he left with us. They gather dust in our basement while I try and think of what to do with them. Decoration? Firewood? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love a vide grenier! I’m hoping to get to a few this year. My best purchase was a Ricard bottle for 50 centimes, two days previously I had passed one over in a brocante because they were asking €16.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hurray for the vide grenier season – this year I’ll take a stall at one, and get shot of some of the accumulated “treasures” 🙂 You’re absolutely right, a vide grenier is all about liquidating, and recycling.

    Liked by 1 person

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