Is one man’s junk another man’s treasure?

Brocante in France (1 of 12)I think that this post will appeal to the food bloggers amongst you. The rest of you will think it’s all a bit nutty.  When I’m not in the kitchen, slaving over a hot camera, I get a great deal of fun finding the occasional prop or gadget that will help make this blog that bit more my own and original. I do this partly through using old crockery and cutlery. It is getting increasingly difficult to source quality at a rock bottom price.

Brocante in France

Somebody will buy them. Someday…

I can tell you Dublin’s Camden Street has seven charity shops and I’m known in them all. Though they think me very strange when I ask to buy one plate from a set of six, often refusing to take the price of the six for the one. I once paid for six and donated the other five in the next shop up the street.

On a recent trip to the Dordogne, we met up with my friend and fellow blogger, Stéphane Gerbard. There is not a lot that Stéphane doesn’t know about the Dordogne lifestyle. Over a very long dinner, he regaled us with tales of the wine trade and family life in France. He also gave me directions to a hidden Dordogne treasure – the brocante. The next day, slightly the worse for wear, we drove 70 kilometres into the rolling French countryside on a quest.

Brocante in France (8 of 12)

I follow “We Want Plates” on Twitter. They would have no issues here.

Side note on salesmanship: I was on a trip into a charity shop in Camden Street, delivering a very large sports bag full of DVDs, and computer games. The manager took the bag from me with a benevolent smile before saying “You have brought us stock, you must take some stock.” I left €5 lighter, carrying two rusty tin plates, having been relieved of my 150 DVDs and games into the bargain. Now that is a salesman.

Brocante in France (3 of 12)

Individually or in sets. So much choice…

This brocante is no ordinary junk shop. It’s a food photographer’s dream. Thousands of old plates, countless knives, forks, spoons, dishes, glasses, pots, pans, carvers, servers, bowls, jars, ice tongs, tea pots, coffee pots, cups, saucers, cake stands – you get the idea.

Brocante in France (5 of 12)

If it’s not here, you probably didn’t want one anyway

I dropped an entire €20 on six different dinner plates, three silver napkin rings, a carving knife, three forks and three odd knives. She threw in four wine glasses (all different) and a set of silver thimbles for the Wife.

Brocante in France (9 of 12)

A small selection of the huge selection…

I could have spent a lot more time and a little more money but it’s the Wife’s holiday too and I limited myself to three hours rummaging. The bits and pieces will feature on the blog over the next few months. I can store them where we used to keep the DVDs…..

Footnote on chairs: They don’t feature often here on the blog. However, if you are looking for a few, I know just the place…..

Brocante in France (11 of 12)

Where else would you store your spare chairs? Literally hanging out of the rafters.

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  • That sounds like fun. I have a friend in Brittany who spends most weekends going to the vide greniers (empty attics), where people sell their junk, very much like yard sales. He constantly boasts of finding Le Creusets, iPhones, racing bikes, rare records and cameras for a couple of Euros.

      • You’d get on with a friend I went to school with (his family were originally Irish). He lives in Brittany and goes to all the local vide greniers. He has an old Freddie Grubb racing bike and often comes across others (even in France), not to mention European bikes. He thinks nothing of strapping a bicycle to his back and cycling 20Km home with it!

  • That’s my idea of heaven. I have a serious weakness for chairs as well as crockery … I once found a metamorphic chair of the sort I’d been looking for for ages in a similar place in Spain and it sat in the cupboard over the bathroom in our Spanish flat for two years until the next time we took our car out there. I can feel a trip to France coming on …

  • Ooooh, much safer not to share the address of that place! It’s not as if I’ll be nipping over for a quick shopping trip any time soon, but in the event I win the Lottery and zoom north to visit all the rellies, my sister does live in the Dordogne and you might arrive next time to find the place cleared out… Personally, I’m a silver tea and coffee set fiend.

      • I can tell myself it’s far too expensive if I simply add the cost of the air ticket to Europe… :-/

  • That looks like quite the treasure trove. I’m not one for shopping but I think I’d be very happy there.

  • Oh good grief Conor! I got very excited by your first paragraph considering I’m in Ireland *right now* for the first time in years but then you started blathering about the Dordogne! I’ll just have to crack open the Jimmy’s and sulk.


  • Drool. Trawling through places like that is also my idea of heaven. (I will see if Kate can nab me a goodie or two when she clears the joint out…)

  • I can see the appeal for sure… 😉

  • Hi Conor!
    We have similar flea markets near where we live here in Virginia. I have only just begun the search for treasures for blogging props for some reason the thought never hit me until recently. You have a great source to choose from here. Great!

      • If you ever come over to the states, it’s a date! 😉

  • My husband peeked over my shoulder as I was reading today’s post and blurted out, “No. Just no,” before I could reassure him this shop is on a completely different continent. 😉 Perhaps I’ve purchased one too many strange S&P sets…

    Looking forward to seeing your new finds in action!

  • I love that area in France. And I LOVE all this STUFF! the dishware and chairs!!! You just want to rattle around on your own schedule for hours. Don’t know if you’d ever find something in the USA to compare. Possibly on the east coast but even then… not the same. Cheers! wendy

  • A delightful ‘stickybeak’ journey following Stephane’s advice for a brocante in the Dordogne. The beautiful Susan Hays of ‘Our French Oasis’ just recently showed us her ‘local’ brocante in the Charente . . . well worth a trip to France for such wonderlands alone 🙂 ! Looking down that long showroom, three hours would have gone by in the blink of an eye with no real financial distress . . . . but then I am not lucky enough to have the equivalent of ‘the wife’ to make me mind my manners and mores . . . !!

  • Oh how I love a good antique (ok junk) store. I often ponder what the people who eventually clean out my house will think: “Why in the world did that woman have all those single plates, bowls, napkins, etc.? She must’ve been crazy.”

  • I could lose myself in a place like that, just as long as I had an empty bag and a huge luggage allowance. I assume you weren’t flying Ryanair!

  • I am a huge fan of shopping around for old plates/cutlery and such at the thrift stores and garage sales. I sure don’t think you are nuts! I would be in heaven in that shop. Great post.

  • You should make a trip to Chor Bazaar in Mumbai, India. You’ll be amazed at what precious finds you can pick up. BTW and for the uninitiated, Chor Bazaar means thieves market …

  • Wow, that does sound and look like a food blogger’s paradise! When I read about such places, I always wonder why they are anywhere but where I live. Then again, maybe that’s for the better – no storage space means getting rid of something old or unused before buying something new.

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