Wednesday, 2 July 2014

In the Know: Antiquing with Teresa


After a wonderful trip to Paris with my husband, grandmother, and aunt I wanted to give my Aunt Teresa the opportunity to share with you her fabulous antiquing expertise in Paris. She is no stranger to antiquing across the globe and has been a dealer for over 20 years here in the Midwest. My husband Nathan and I experienced the Flea Market with her and my grandmother first hand at it was well worth the trip! 
Teresa making friends with a French dealer

Antiquing at Porte de Vanves, Paris
Ave Marc Sangnier & Ave Georges Lafenstre, 14th Paris
Metro Porte de Vanves, Line 13
Open Saturday & Sunday 7am to 1pm
Any Midwest girl worth her salt would do several things on a trip to Paris … shopping, cafes, shopping, art museums, shopping, Seine river cruises…and always more shopping. The kind of shopping I like to do is at a weekend flea market, in this case the one at Porte de Vanves. While tour guides will suggest the popular Clingancort, the Porte de Vanves remains my favorite because it’s always got something special and unexpected and you can have a lot of fun haggling over a price and scoring a treasure.
Many believe the term ‘flea market’ originated in France…
Wikipedia says “The traditional and most-publicised story is in the article "What Is A Flea Market?" by Albert LaFarge in Today's Flea Market magazine: "There is a general agreement that the term "Flea Market" is a literal translation of the French marché aux puces, an outdoor bazaar in Paris, France, named after those pesky little parasites … that infested the upholstery of old furniture brought out for sale."
While the only fleas you may find in this day in age at a Parisian marché aux puces might be the ones on a dog, it’s a fun event to take in apart from the usual tourist fare. And the souvenirs you’ll find will be unique!


This sweet pooch was perched on the vendor’s boxes of antique post cards and everybody wanted a photo. Sounds like a pretty savvy plan to get customers.

Here are a few tips if you are going to Paris and want to take in this antique fair. It’s scheduled every Saturday and Sunday, and the dealers start setting up at dawn and stay until early afternoon. Take a calculator or pen and paper if your French “numbers” vocabulary isn’t up to snuff so you can be sure you’re offering 8 euros, not 80. I believe 99% of the dealers are willing to make a deal. It’s part of the experience and believe me, they know you are an American from the get go. Being polite and saying ‘bonjour’ will get you off on the right foot. If you’d like to look at something ask first. Remain steadfast and be prepared to negotiate to get a lower price, but if you can’t, just walk away…chances are that dealer will come after you with the merchandise and haggle some more.
Few vendors will take a credit card so have plenty of cash and coins but guard them closely because pickpockets like to cruise these types of venues. A shopping tote would be handy to have, but most dealers will provide a battered plastic bag to pack your wares. Be polite…I asked if it was OK to take a photo at the booths and 9 out of 10 said ‘oui.’  I’m used to going to yard sales and antique sales in the US, so it’s interesting to note that many of the dealers here just wander off, go for an espresso, or gather with their buddies to play cards instead of manning their tables. Others are so friendly they’ll give you a kiss. It’s a social event for the dealers, but if you’re going to lug these items and set them up for a few hours I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be there to make the sale. Which brings up an important point…when you’re in another country enjoy and embrace the differences.
Since the first time my mom and I visited Europe and shopped for antiques, we have made a rule “nothing over 2 inches.” This was learned the hard way after we had to ship a package home (Ouch! Not cheap!) AND buy another suitcase to get our stuff back to the Midwest. Our first Paris trip I fell in love with a green patina watering can that was so French and fabulous it was speaking to me.  I could not leave it and today it has a special spot in my home. If you’re willing to carry something home on the plane, it’s OK, but bulky items that have to be shipped or are ultra breakable might be something to pass by. It’s hard, I know. And don’t think you have to spend a fortune…there are affordable treasures for every budget. Remember the antique dealer’s adage is “If you see an antique you love, buy it now…it may be gone later.”
Some items to look for are tins, buttons, pins and jewelry, small books, postcards, linens, tiny perfume bottles, and my ‘must have’ item, a painting. Lots of paintings are done on small boards and are easy to pack. The Porte de Vanves market takes a few hours to do justice and runs several blocks then turns down another street where there are items on both sides. There’s a food vendor at the halfway point. Wear comfy shoes and take an umbrella. Beware! The only “toilette” in the vicinity is one of those self-serve ones, very unique but a little scary.
Here are some photos of a recent visit. Most cities have a similar event on weekends…in the Midwest we call them ‘Swap Meets’ so be on the lookout at home or when you travel and happy shopping!
Vintage Atomizers

Vintage Buttons/Pins



Amber and Grandma scoring deals!
Nathan's Great Vinyl Hunt!



Amber buying vintage coffee bags


Fashion at the Flea Market


Grandma shopping


Beautiful vintage costume jewelry



Taxidermy at the Flea Market


Vintage Sewing Spools
Vintage Tins


A vintage Midwest Girl

Teresa

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