Foire à la Brocante des Quinconces in Bordeaux is one of France’s biggest and greatest vintage/ antique flea markets, so you can bet your ass I was going to make sure I got the opportunity to check it out. It happens twice a year, once in autumn and again in spring, and it attracts more than 200 exhibitors to set up shop for 5 days to sell their wares. The best part? It’s pretty damn affordable, but you’ll have to spend the money you save on purchases on some extra luggage allowance!
Attracting sellers from all over France, this is a great spot to pick up vintage furniture, jewellery and knick knacks from all kinds of era’s, but obviously my main interest is anything mid-century. There was a huge amount of 50’s furniture including kitchen units, tables, chairs, juke boxes and even a remarkable amount of pinball games which made me regret I didn’t come with a van. As I previously mentioned the prices here are really affordable considering the age and quality of the pieces, but note that they don’t mind a bit of a haggle if you’re really in love with something, especially if you’re looking to buy more than one piece from a seller. I recommend you brush up on your French phrases and numbers, although most of the people here do speak English. It always looks better if you’re making an effort to speak their language, even if you are struggling with the translations – nobody likes a tourist who expects everything handed to them on a plate.
The only thing lacking at this market is vintage clothing; although there were a few bits and pieces scattered about, this isn’t somewhere you should go if you’re on the hunt for a retro dress. There were a lot of antique linens etc and more victorian separates than anything else, but the prices on these were pretty high in comparison to the other goods available. Even when I ventured to some of the vintage stores I found that the pieces were mostly from the 70’s, but I’ll get to that in a second…
The market takes place in Place des Quinconces, a big square in the centre of the city. As it’s right beside the bus terminal it’s really easy to get to if you’re not staying locally, but beware that the ground is all rocks and dust, so make sure you’re wearing sensible shoes for your visit because you will get dirty, fast! There is some street food vans set up right beside all the stalls which is handy for snacks, but also note the only toilet near by is the public one at the bus station which you have to pay to use and is pretty darn grim; please note desperate times call for desperate measures!
Another market worth checking out is the St Michael flea market at Place Duburg. This is a more of a car boot sale / yard sale extravaganza, meaning the things on sale are cheaper (!), but it also means there is a lot more junk to trawl through. There is a combination of locals trying to declutter and dealers trying to earn a living, meaning there is a lot more variation on sale, but again, not much in the way of vintage clothing when I wandered around. Keep an eye out for thrifty re-sellers here; I saw a couple of people buying stock from the competition and then selling it on there stall’s with a hefty mark up. If you see something you love, buy it before you get caught out by one of these tricksters! This market is every day except Saturday’s and Monday’s, from around 7am till 4pm. There is also plenty of lovely cafes around the square with outdoor seating to rest at in between purchases.
On a quick sidenote, vintage shops in Bordeaux are called friperies, and most of them are open Tuesday’s – Saturday’s. Although I only had time to visit a couple of these on my trip, I was overall pretty disappointed with the clothing available. Most of my discoveries were from the 1970’s upwards, but they were generally in really good condition and available at around 20€ per dress, which I can’t really argue with. These little stores tend to have a lot of home stuff inside them too – clearly this is what the French are more interested in. Although my wardrobe efforts were fruitless, I still came back with some really lovely pieces from this adventure, all of which fitted really well in my hand luggage which is an added bonus!
For all those away on an epic Bordeaux vintage adventure, you may be interested in reading my previous post sharing my favourite places to see and stay in the city… And for those of you interested in discovering more awesome locations for vintage shopping, be sure to read my earlier blog posts on Malaga, Spain and in the UK, Manchester, Aberdeen and the Scottish Borders. Coming soon: Cardiff, and no doubt some great finds from my upcoming trip to California!
Happy Hunting xox