French Flea Markets

Europe doesn’t do Garage Sales, preferring neighborhood flea markets called Vide-Greniers (‘Car Boot Sales’ for you Brits).  Vide-Grenier literally means “empty your attic”… and empty their attics they do!   Each village usually does one or two a year, spring and fall, and each family fills a table with all manor of fascinating finds. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so you can find everything from the most hilarious junk to the most interesting antiques.

The prices at these bric-a-brac free-for-alls are a fraction of the weekly antique markets, and bargaining is the way to go… if you don’t speak French, start with a ‘bonjour madame/monsieur‘ and a smile, then just point and use the calculator on your smart phone to make your offer!

Bring some sacks and lots of coins and small bills.

Here is  the current list of upcoming  vide-greniers:  Just look for ‘Vide Grenier’ or Frippery (mostly clothes); the word ‘Brocante’ means professional antique dealers, which while interesting, are usually not cheap.

But the best in French Riviera second hand shopping is found at Monaco’s charity bazars, the literal holy grails of flea markets, where Monagasque shopaholics empty their fabulous closets for charity to make room for this year’s new styles.

  • Monaco’s annual Kermesse de Soeur Marie is a hotly anticipated giant charity flea market held under the giant circus tent in Monaco’s Fontvieille district, usually the first weekend in April.
  • The same big top tent hosts Monaco’s annual winter Kermesse  usually the 1st Saturday in December.
  • Monaco’s Grande Braderie de la Croix-Rouge is at the end of October, in the Espace Leo Ferre Concert Center adjacent to the Fontvieille Shopping Center.

Happy hunting!

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