My 5 Favorite French Flea Market Finds

The thrill of “the find”

When in France, I spend most of my time rummaging through antique fairs (brocantes), looking for unique treasures and always keep an eye out for that “must have” one-of-a-kind gem. I love the stories hidden behind each vintage piece, the history of how people lived in another era, all told through an item’s markings and wear. When I find my tried and true pieces, my heart skips a beat.

 
 Sandra Sigman Les Fleurs french flea market shopping in France Sharon Santoni
 

Inevitably, on each trip, I find myself drawn to a few favorite items. As I learn about their differences, the quest for a rare and unique variety keeps me coming back for more, year after year.

 

My top 5 flea market quests

 

Ironstone

You can tell the age of an ironstone piece by its shape and design details. The earliest designs with hexagonal and octagonal shapes are harder to find. Mid-1800 designs had different relief-molded berries and wheat and are all beautiful. My favorites are often the simple round pieces from the late 19th century, with designs only on the handles or finials. I always look for tureens, platters, pitchers and the rare cake pedestal.

 les fleurs andover french ironstone pitcher eucalyptus leaves
 les fleurs andover french antique white petite ironstone pitcher
 les fleurs andover antique ironstone tureen ladle France
 

Bottle dryers

French bottle drying racks come in many shapes and sizes and I love them all. Known in French as “hérisson bouteilles” which means “bottle hedgehogs,” vintage bottle dryers were originally used for drying wine bottles. The list of things to now display on the spikes is endless!

We would love to hear your favorite uses for bottle dryers if you wish to share in the comments below.

 les fleurs andover french galvanized zinc bottle dryer
 les fleurs andover antique bottle dryer rack with flowers
 

Antique watering cans

A French watering can always stands out in a flea market, with its copper patina and graceful handle arching to the back of the can. Special finds have a removable “rose“ or spout head, which was named from the French word “arroseur” (sprinkler).

 les fleurs andover antique french brass copper watering can patina
 les fleurs andover vintage french copper watering can 
 les fleurs andover copper watering can rose
 

vintage breadboards

Everyone loves the charm of an old breadboard, but French baguette boards are my favorite. I love looking for different shapes, thicknesses and handle sizes. The casts of grey and splits in the wood only add character.

 
 les fleurs andover french baguette breadboards
 
 

Champagne buckets

Vintage champagne buckets display the name of the vintner (wine maker or grower) on a plaque, mounted on the face of the silverplate or pewter bucket. Some have reliefs of grapes and leaves. They’re all different, which keeps me looking for more.

 les fleurs andover french champagne bucket rene rochet with lavender
 les fleurs andover french champagne bucket pommery greno with candles
 

If you happen to be at an antique fair in France, whether shopping for old urns, cow bells, baskets or bottles, be sure to visit a reputable seller. You will notice the quality through the look and feel of a true vintage item, as opposed to the mass-produced reproductions found in chain stores. There is just no comparison. In your pursuit of that special find, keep a few of my favorite items in mind. You might find yourself needing extra luggage to take them home and cherish for years ahead!


See our collection of French finds on our website

 
 les fleurs andover flea market shopping vintage french furniture
 les fleurs andover flea market shopping france demijohns