With sunny weather and warm tempertures, I’m getting serious about hitting up the local flea markets for a few little things to take home. I’m on the hunt for: 1- The perfect old mirror, gilded or simple, that will add some French elegance to a corner of my home, 2- Beautiful copper wares (which are far to expensive for me to buy new), I’m keep in my eyes open for the perfect cooking set or molds for my future kitchen, 3- gorgeous old plates inspired by the plates over at Manger, and I won’t pass up some beautiful silverware either 4- French linens, for tea towels or tablecloths, a little red detail or “D” monogram would be the cherry on top.
There are a few options to find the second-hand treasures you’re looking for in France:
- The first, and easiest for a tourist to find, is the traditional Flea Market (Marche des Puces) In Paris there are a few famous ones, and in smaller towns, like Dijon, there are always the vendors out with their goods on market days. You can find old dishes, sliver, jewelry and antique postcards and stamps here on a consistent, weekly basis.
- Another easy option for a tourist are Brocantes. They can be big markets, or simple shops selling antiques in town. Take a peek inside to find beautiful antiques sold by knowledgeable vendors.
- If you have a car keep your eyes open for a Vide Grenier, literally empty attic sale. Like a garage sale, the vendors at the vide grenier are average people out to sell their stuff – clothes, bags, kitchen ware, jewelry, antique books. The prices are usually really low, but it is a toss-up if you’ll find anything good.
- If you have a car it is also worth it to find the closest Emmaus. A charitable organization that gives proceeds to help people in need, the Emmaus is the place big and little pieces. You can find beautiful old wood furniture for less than 50 euros, old books and comics for pennies, traditional baskets, glassware and dishes. The emmaus will be packed on the weekend, but is full of treasures for the finding.
- Finally, if you have an internet connection check out Le Bon Coin, and online second-hand market where you can find anything you are looking for (or furnish your apartment if you are moving to France!) for really good prices. The only thing is you will need a car or someway to pick up your goods from the vendor.
Happy treasure hunting! I’ve got my fingers crossed I find everything on my list, stay tuned to instagram for updates!
Happy Spring! Here’s a little peek at the amazing, unusually warm, spring colors that have been enjoying here in France for the last two weeks. Aside from amazing bread and cheese, another little luxury of life in France is an abundance of affordable, fresh flowers. There’s at lease one florist in every quartier whose bright bouquets are daily displayed on the sidewalk and whose doors are open even longer then the bakery for the last-minute date or hostess gift. You can get a bunch of roses for about five euros or a bunch of tulips for three; take them as they are or choose a few different bunches to create a unique bouquet. When you take them into the shop the first thing they ask is “Pour offrir?”, and with a simple oui and at no extra charge they arrange even a three euro bunch of tulips into a pretty package ready to take as any kind of gift. I’ve made it a habit to stop by the florist for a fresh bunch every few weeks, and even if it is only three euros it makes the house feel a little more luxurious. One of the little perks of the French joie de vivre.
Flowers may be pretty inexpensive around here, but I’ve learned few little tricks to keep my flowers fresher longer:
- Change the water every few days, it keeps the flowers happy and keeps any swampy stink away.
- When you notice a few blossoms are starting to get limp, downsize your bouquet. Instead of throwing all the flowers away, separate the blooms that are still strong. Find some smaller vases, glasses, or old jars, cut the stems down and make a few little mini bouquets to for around the house to make the colors last even longer.
When you live abroad having a Christmas tree becomes a little more difficult. Here in France finding a tree is no problem, markets and flower shops have adorable little fresh trees for sale and bouquets of branches and holly are easily available. Since we’re usually off to Spain for the holidays though buying a tree is out of the question. Living as an ex-pat I’ve also started to live more minimally, meaning packing up lights and decorations from suitcase to suitcase isn’t going to happen. But living abroad doesn’t mean you can’t add some Christmas cheer to your place, so I’ve put together a few non-traditional tree ideas that are expat, minimalist and travel friendly while still bringing lots of Christmas cheer! Which do you like best?
If you can get your hands on some pine branches these old bottles filled with branches and a few colorful ornaments are the perfect solution. I did this the first year we were in France, and not only was it pretty but it filled the house with the delicious smell of pine! (image via Enjoy your home)
These Oragami ornaments from How About Orange are budget friendly and would look adorable on the branches or a mini tree.
If you can’t find a tree why not make a light tree, so simple but the perfect festive glow for a small space. (from Apartment Therapy)
Another space saver from Apartment Therapy, make a washi tape tree on the wall. I’d fill it pics of the people you love who are far away. (from Brit and Co.)
Or why not make a paper tree? This tissue paper tree from Curbly is elegant and fun.
Finally, on a smaller scale a paper Christmas tree forest to fill up a window sill or put on the table would be lovely too. Add some glitter and tea candles to make it sparkle. (DIY at Julep)
Ex-pats, do you have a tree or do you have another non-traditional solution?
(Title photo from Le Petite Cuisine)