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Who doesn’t love a bargain but who does love the process of haggling?  In France there’s a time, a place and a polite approach to barter for your best price, and you need to know where to look.

Flea markets and brocantes are abundant in France and are overflowing with delicious vintage items.  If you’re moving to or living in France, or if you’re creating French shabby chic in your homeland, it’s an ideal starting point for your vintage “Escape to the Chateau” furniture and decor.  In one episode of Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau, Angel Strawbridge took us to a brocante to purchase picture frames – after a little haggling (with her signature smile) she came out with a boot full for just 40 euros.  

If you are wondering how to find flea markets in your area, or are planning a visit, we found a very handy calendar of brocantes and vide greniers (literally translated as empty attics) throughout France by region.  It’s in French but there is a handy translate button at top right and it is very easy to navigate. This is the link https://calendrier-des-brocantes.com/

So you find yourself at the flea market and you’ve identified something you simply cannot live without (carefully concealing your desire from the seller of course!), how to capture this treasure and make it yours!

  1. The French are extremely polite so greet the seller with a smile and a friendly bonjour!
  2. Ask the price, and if you don’t understand the price in French ask if they can write it down (Puis-je vous demander d’écrire le prix car je ne comprends pas).  
  3. Act a little surprised then ask if this is the best price they can offer.   If they say yes tell them you really like it but it is too expensive for you (Désolé c’est charmant mais c’est trop d’argent pour moi) then put the item down and start to walk away. 
  4. They will likely call you back and ask what price you have in mind, tell them and then remain silent – there’s an old saying “he who speaks first loses”!
  5. If you are forced to speak first and you really want this treasure, keep small change in your pocket and offer less because “this is all I have left!.

Happy brocante and flea market shopping!