Paris Vignettes: Artistry at Ateliers and Brocantes

Paris Vignettes: Artistry at Ateliers and Brocantes

It was a cool Saturday morning in November and I decided to wander north to rue Bretagne, where I stumbled across the neighborhood’s regular Saturday brocante, or open-air flea market, filling the streets with interesting objects. What I love is that the vendeurs don’t just put out their items for sale but try to arrange them in art forms or themes, as depicted in this edition of Paris Vignettes. For example, the collection of horses in “Les Chevaux” or the seven stuffed bears in “Les Ours”. These objects capture the spirit of the vendeur/ vendeuse, as you can see in “Plan de Homme.” Whether the theme is dolls, baskets or love, you can find your favorite treasures somewhere at a brocante.

I also admire the way that stores take this artistic and aesthetic approach. Some examples: the “Bicyclette Jaune” near rue de Rivoli or the collection of watch faces in “Les Montres” that I found at a watch repair shop off rue de Turenne.

What’s more, the city’s ateliers, or artisanal workshops, show off the creative world of Paris. On this trip, I took another tour with one of my favorite French guides, Patrick Bezzolato, who speaks clearly and shares interesting stories. This balade in Belleville was about secret passages and along the journey on rue des Cascades he noticed that his friend Marco, who is a graveur, was home. Patrick took me down a set of stairs, through a courtyard and into a secret door to a wonderful atelier where I captured an apprentice, “Graveuse en formation”, Marco (“Marco Le Graveur”) and his studio in “Atelier de Graveur.” Marco shared a very animated chapter in his journey from Mexico to France.

Les Ours, photo by William O’Such

Plan de Homme, photo by William O’Such

Une Lecon de Peinture, photo by William O’Such

Bebe et Basquet, photo by William O’Such

Non a L’Amour, photo by William O’Such

Les Chevaux, photo by William O’Such

Les Montres, photo by William O’Such

Graveuse en formation, photo by William O’Such

Atelier de Graveur, photo by William O’Such

Gravure Noir, photo by William O’Such

Marco le Graveur, photo by William O’Such

Lead photo credit : Bicyclette Jaune, photo by William O'Such

More in Art, Paris Flea Markets, Paris Vignettes, photography, Rue Bretagne, teddy bears, toys

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William was introduced to silver halide photography by his father, Chester J. O’Such, via the family’s Ansco reflex camera and home darkroom. After college, William worked as a photographic engineer at Eastman Kodak, where he began to learn the art of photography. With his first SLR, a Canon AE-1, he photographed his inaugural voyage to Paris in 1982. This early spark turned into full passion when William became a Kodak expatriate in Paris from 1995-99. Before returning to the USA, William and his future wife Ineke bought an apartment in the Marais district. Inspired by Bresson, William continues to visit Paris at least twice a year to wander the streets, camera in hand, looking for the next vignette. His photos are available for sale by visiting