Archive for category: Buying antiques in France

Antiques sale Limoux

Quirky finds at the Salon Antiquites, Limoux

A sure sign of Spring is the proliferation of antique fêtes and vide greniers (literally, empty attics) in Languedoc in the south of southern France. I have blogged previously about buying antiques in France at auction; the fêtes and vide greniers are a far less formal means of sourcing quirky items or genuine French antiques at often very low prices. Limoux is a centre for salons antiquités (antiques fairs). Combined with lunch on the lovely old square, and perhaps even a visit to one of the Blanquette cellars, a fabulous, and perhaps even profitable day, is guaranteed.



Auction bounty

I didn’t come away from the Vente aux Encheres Publiques (public auction) in Pamiers with what I intended, but the car boot was fairly laden nonetheless. The bidding rose furiously on the lit de coin (corner bed) reaching 250 euros, no doubt still a bargain but more than my budget. I bid 1 euro (!) for an ostentatious soupier, 5 euros for the range of coloured glass and 15 euros for the prints in the pastiche frames.

Just right for the B&B

Best of all, the old luggage (5 euros) was very heavy when picked up and was I discovered, stuffed full of old French linens, some of which are the coveted monogrammed sheets, lots of bolster pillow covers in candy striped colours, and baby clothes and pram sets which are just delightful.

Lovely old French linens

It’s a delicate process restoring the old linens which are often discoloured and stained from many years in musty attics. Who knows how long our cases had been lying somewhere with their hidden bounty. I am loving my foray into buying antiques in France. If you want to pick up lovely old French linens at bargain basement prices, then come and stay in our lovely 18th century holiday cottage or bed and breakfast in the south of France on a weekend that co-incides with the auction – and bring an empty suitcase with you.

Buying antiques in France

The south of France is awash with antique and second hand furniture and furnishings. The French often no longer favour the beautiful but huge armoires and buffets as they do not fit into the boxy, modern pavilions (small, detached houses) that are appearing throughout the French countryside (mmm, that’s another blog).

My aim has always been to create a French country home in my 18th century bed and breakfast and holiday cottage and with this in mind I have been a frequent visitor to the various outlets for old furniture. Primarily the brocante in Mirepoix that sells antiques (& junk) and the Troc in Carcassonne, likewise. Recently we discovered the Vente aux Encheres Publiques (public auction) in Pamiers which on our first visit had a stunning collection of furniture, linens and chandeliers, genuine antiques at rock bottom prices – mainly.

Bargain antiques

However, my French is dreadful and cent (100) sounds terribly like cinq (5) particularly in the sing-song, 100kms an hour voice of the Commissaire – Priseur. The dictionary defines priser as to value or, to take snuff.  Really. So for much of the auction which lasted for 3.5hrs, I sat in silence until towards the end when I could contain myself no longer and bid for these 4 solid oak chairs for the bargain price of 15 euros (+20% commission).

Coin de lit

The next antiques auction is on Saturday and with my newly honed bidding skills I intend to make a play for the lit de coin, (corner bed) above. I have made a mistake with these in the past – there isn’t a mattress in the south of France to fit my beautifully carved rosewood bed.

Not such a bargain