champagneSunday was the grand déballage–the big unwrapping, a term used in connection with antiques–in Pézenas.

Pézenas is a beautiful town in the hills of the Herault department, a bit beyond Béziers. We have been numerous times to visit its bounty of 50-some antique shops. Many are open on Sunday and offer a rare something to do for those of us who don’t have the usual obligations with extended family on that day. Twice a year, Pézenas holds a big brocante faire, with about 150 antiques dealers, who set up stalls along about a mile around the ring of the historic old city center.

shop cafe
Vintage shop in front, café-restaurant in back.
courtyard shop 2
A gate leads to a lush courtyard serving several shops, including this one and the one below.

courtyard shop 1It was a lot of fun, on many levels. We had specific things in mind to buy and tried to ignore everything else, no matter how enticing. (It is very hard to stop looking at furniture when you’ve been hunting for so long, but now there’s no more room!) Still, we couldn’t help but be distracted by pretty or quirky things from time to time.

pharma tool
A tool used by pharmacists to seal caps on bottles.
lettuce baskets
Lettuce baskets, which I recognized thanks to Corey Amaro’s blog.
A sharpening tool with its wooden holder that would hang on a wall.
Detail of a bed frame.

The top photo shows a crystal egg, called a cave à champagne. A glass or mirrored tray inside holds the champagne flutes around a hole for the bottle, which descends into ice below. The whole thing looks like it requires nerves of steel and no partaking of the champagne by the server to ensure a steady hand. We saw several, including in dark blue. Très cher.


fountainWe heard English (of both the British and North American varieties), Spanish, German, Dutch, Flemish and Italian, as well as plenty of French–with different regional accents.


scalesWe didn’t find what we wanted and came away with just a framed picture. However, we completely enjoyed browsing. There were many objects, and many collections of such objects, that we rarely see at the vide-greniers, which are often the first stop on an antique’s journey to a second life.


Plumbing with panache.

That’s what makes antiques a challenge and so satisfying–you can’t just walk into someplace or order online and get just what you want, the first try. You have to look and look, and wait and keep looking some more. You have to play a long game. Here, where vines take six years to produce grapes worthy of turning into wine but then produce for 40 or 70 years, the long game is in the DNA. Rushing to buy almost-good-enough is throwing money away. Patience and persistence make the find all the sweeter.

Along the route, all kinds of music, from jazz to classical.


40 thoughts on “Antique Mania in Pézenas

      1. I think we will be there a bit later. It probably is a good thing. Visiting Sorgue is gut wrenching enough…..with prices to match. It would be fun to go to some with you though.


        Liked by 1 person

        1. In fairness, it’s probably better that you didn’t – if it was a good price it may have ended in tears before bedtime with Gill and I coming to blows over it!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Once I sampled the market in Aix en Provence. What joy. Would that we had more of these markets in the U.S. I will need to content myself with exploring and seeking out new ones when in Italy. It is always the thrill of the hunt.

    Thanks for all the photos. Delightful!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, drool. Also, sigh.
    What is the oblong of little carved men (saints?), just below the ferocious stuffed heads? Makes me think of a cathedral’s exterior writ small.
    And all those old telephones, so much more elegant than talking into a plastic square.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was beautiful, with birds singing even though hordes of people were passing by just outside the walls (admittedly it was a well-behaved crowd). Like a hidden oasis, one with four antique shops–really heaven!


  3. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And you certainly did not overdo with the photographs! I would be utterly unable to leave without bringing some little treasure home with me. That pharmacist tool is fascinating. And treen always seduces…

    More please!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There certainly will be more. We enjoy antiquing and are among an embarrassment of riches. But there are so many stories to share here, I try to alternate a little.


  4. Great to see that you made it to Pezenas! I gave it a miss this year, had my own stall at our local vide grenier this past Saturday, and decided that I did not need to look at anything else!! 🙂 It’s amazing what you can find though, and sometimes you’ll come across the thing you’ve always dreamed of…

    Liked by 1 person

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