Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Bastille brocante

Gorgeous antique bird cages complete with little porcelain birds

 By definition, a brocante means the sale of used goods whatever its age. It doesn't distinguish between antique dealers with an actual shop and those without and who go around the various brocante fairs organized in the city or outside.  One distinction it does make is that antique dealers sell objects which are at least 50 years old while non-antique dealers can sell those of a more recent vintage.

In my line of work, I frequent brocantes quite often and while there are times when I come away empty handed, there is one brocante where I am sure to find a wealth of objects that are worth carting home with me. I'm talking about the Bastille brocante. Its a huge affair that takes place twice a year in the Place de la Bastille. Over 350 stalls chock full of exquisite and gorgeous objets d'art, furniture, bibelots, jewelry, linens and even paintings.  In this brocante, you have both kinds of sellers, the antique dealers with their gorgeous furniture and paintings and the requisite antique prices and the brocanteurs, let's call them for lack of better word. Though I have to say, that it doesn't stop the brocanteurs from having equally old pieces, just that they also carry a lot of schlock and kitsch.  

There is an awful lot to see and it takes me at least two visits before I can narrow down my focus. (Tip: if ever you find yourself there, you must be sure to ask for some nice stallholders for an invite so that you don't pay the entrance fee twice!)

This time was no exception. Imagine how I felt when I found one stall carrying the most gorgeous fans I've ever seen in my life.

Delicate, airy and made of such materials as marabou feathers...

and lace edged in gold with a mother of pearl base. And these were but two examples!

Someone's collection of late 19th century glass vases.

Early 20th century children's furniture. I love its rustic look and the fact that someone's child once sat here to do lessons.

 I loved this piece. Wonderful Venetian Renaissance cabinet with gold leaf finish. Just beautiful.

 This one wasn't too shabby either...

The most fun I had though was rummaging through one stall's heaps and piles of crafts kits. In the 19th century, stores sold craft kits composed of different beads, needle and thread, buttons and trimmings, all of which could be used to create either a piece of jewelry or artwork.  I loved the idea. DIY kit, 19th style.

 Finally, I found myself a strand of old french glass beads. They're this unusual wine color and when you hold them up in the light, they twinkle and shine with a golden light. Its going to go nicely with some projects I have in mind!


  1. Ooh, just divine. I am loving the antique markets in England - I can't wait to visit a few in France :) Thank you for joining Post Of The Month Club! XOL

  2. FYI - trying to become a follower but it button is not working. I will try again later ;) XOL

  3. Oh i'd love to have a rummage through those craft kits too! Scarlett x

  4. Oh lovely. I'd love a job like yours! Do you need an assistant?!

    Madison xxx

  5. love that the antique cages have little porcelain birds inside! :) everything's fab!

  6. Hi! Thanks so much for stopping by yesterday, and for sweet comment. LOVE the Bastille brocante. I went when i was last in Paris, and came away with an amazing vintage couture Lanvin fur coat. What a find. Glad you had a successful outing! Wish I was there...

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