Antiques, Brocantes and Classic Clothes: The ABCs of Vintage Shopping in Paris

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Antiques, Brocantes and Classic Clothes: The ABCs of Vintage Shopping in Paris

A – Antiques.  A true antique is usually defined as an item construed as valuable because of its age, provenance, rarity and connection to an era previous to our own. An antique usually displays a degree of craftsmanship and is valued highly because of its considerable age. Some say the word applies only to collectible objects older than 100 years, and that the term vintage identifies items that are old but have not reached that century benchmark.

B – Brocantes. A brocante is a second-hand shop or market. Not usually considered as high-end as an antique shop, a 21st century brocante fills a niche for interior decorators, collectors, and shoppers in need of a pop from the past. A brocante can contain flea-market bric-a-brac or be fashionably mid-century modern. There’s usually a nod to popular culture or the ever-so en pointe industrial look.

C – Clothes. Classic or the-day-before-yesterday, these are bits and pieces we adorn ourselves with to portray our true colors or to show off our savvy eye for fashion on a budget. Clothes, whether pinned and punked, or trimmed with 19th-century lace, are found in a plethora of used clothing shops and vintage boutiques in Paris.

Photo credit ©Metro Centric, Flickr

Most Paris second-hand shops mix it up: antiques, vintage, and fashion all under one roof. Shop windows feature futuristic plastic juxtaposed with traditional terracotta. Buying second-hand is an important way to lessen one’s footprint on the environment. Anything goes and everything gets a second chance. Here’s a sampling of few of Paris’s second-hand addresses. Nothing high end, nothing too demanding. As with everything in 2020, please check ahead for opening times, closures and protocols.

At the heart of a lively little junction in the 11th arrondissement  known as Village Popincourt, there are a couple of brocantes worth discovering in this less tourist-driven area of Paris.

Alasinglinglin, at 1 rue du Marché Popincourt is a local landmark of retro vintage and industrial lighting for those who like to upcycle the look of the 50s and 60s. Metal, tin, and aluminum abound in this relaxed atmosphere along with a lot of sleek teak.

The nearby Belle Lurette, at 5 rue du Marché Popincourt, was once an old workshop. Now the the amalgamation of two popular stores, Belle Lurette offers a quality selection of vintage furniture, mirrors and lighting, including eye-catching illuminated globes. They’ve featured classic Thonet bentwood furniture from the Belle Époque and very beautiful Scandinavian pieces. Everything is tastefully chosen and in good shape.

There is a nice toy shop in the nearby rue Ternaux and a tempting boulangerie.

 

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Au Petit Bonheur la Chance at 13 rue Saint Paul specializes in nostalgic items from the 1890s to the 1970s. The name literally translates as the Haphazard, but Little Happiness seems more fitting. The owner finds joy in long-forgotten treasures and the place they hold in our hearts, therefore the shop aims to pass this emotion on to the customer. This is why you’ll often find things that evoke school days, childhood games or your mother’s kitchen. Visitors here will find tea towels, canisters, dollies, party favors, loot, maps, ephemera and piles of the trim and braid the French call mercerie. Au Petit Bonheur la Chance is located in the exceedingly charming Village Saint Paul, a series of small, hidden pedestrian passageways and courtyards with  vintage stores, galleries, and boutiques.

Photo credit © Comptoir de Chineur

Au Comptoir du Chineur at 49 rue Saint Paul is a friendly haunt of cool people and aspirants. It’s a veritable goldmine of  curiosities dating from the 1920s to the 1990s including vinyl records – of all genres, iconic images from 1950s and 60s,  posters, postcards, electronics, vintage shoes, purses and dresses, many for less than the price of cheap lunch.

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Photo credit © Isabelle DelaHaye, Facebook

Isabelle Delahaye Antiquites at 18 avenue Trudaine is an antique and interior design shop on a pretty, treed street in the 9th arrondissement. Isabelle Delahaye has scoured France and Europe to fill her shop with treasures – some over a 100 years old; others, more modern. What connects her collection is its intrinsic value. Isabelle Delahaye’s shop has a bit of everything, from silverware to glittering chandeliers, and features antique furniture, faience and fabrics among its riches. Isabelle has many sculptural pieces too, some dating back to the 17th century. Her amazing selection of decorative wall art will leave you wondering if you’ve just bought a modern masterpiece. Why? Because her inventory has included works by Sonia Delauney and René Magritte.

Photo credit © Jour de Broc, Facebook

The people at  Jour de Broc at 130 rue Lamarck are firm believers that buying second-hand is a better way of living and consuming. Here you’ll find maps, commercial signage, framed antique photos, lamps, and toys. For sale are ashtrays from a bygone era, stacks of suitcases, Ricard decanters and the always collectible yellow Bania tins.

Les Nouveaux Brocanteurs is located at 23 Boulevard de Ménilmontant. Mid-century modern furniture plus quirky industrial collectibles, known as Indus, are now the timeless antiques of the 2020s. Located on the edge of the cimetière du Pere Lachaise, Les Nouveaux Brocanteurs has been offering a rotation of 20th century delights since 1997. Think 1970s waiting-room chic.

At first glance L’Objet Qui Parle at 86 rue des Martyrs seems an awesome little shop, more a cabinet of curiosities than the usual Aladdin’s cave jumble. The window displays are unusual and often surreal productions, creating mid-century fairy tales with their contents. The locale is very small, taller than it is wide, so the windows staged by Catherine Malaure have to tell a story. The ever-changing and carefully curated inventory has consisted of  puppets and puppet theaters, vintage painting supplies, bottles with pretend magical elixirs, Chinese paper lanterns, bird cages, painted skittles and rolling wooden toys. The location is temporarily closed but will be reopening soon.

Tombées du Camion literally translates to “fell off a truck” so this location would fall into the brocante category, leaving the antique in the dust. Tombées du Camion has crates of objects from all eras and uses once manufactured in bulk. Some of their stock is macabre: rusty pharmaceutical tins, dolls’ heads, discarded glass eyes. There are 3D letters and XXX posters to create your own wall art. The goods are kaleidoscopically arrayed. Armed with as little as five or six euros you could come away with some small trinket. It’s bric-a brac to the max. Located at Marche de Vernaison, 99 rue Rosiers.

The Hippy Market. Photo credit © Wikimedia Commons

At 46 rue Saint Andre des Arts there’s The Hippy Market with lots of Cindy Lauper crinoline, tough girl jean jackets and berets. Should I even invoke Emily in Paris? Nah! Their stock is youthful and affordable.

Sharing the same address, (but different doors) is Kiliwatch Collect-Or. By patching, fashioning and recycling second-hand clothes into new, unique pieces, the people at Kiliwatch were forerunners of sustainable fashion. It’s all about making a smaller footprint. The store is very light and airy and a granny dress haven.

Tilt vintage clothing at 10 rue Placide is part of a France-wide chain of vintage clothing shops. This location in the heart of the 6th arrondissement of Paris offers the classic marinière, tie-dye tee shirts, and bomber jackets. Camo exists to next to kimonos in this reasonably priced destination. Even if you can’t dredge up a designer piece or a Burberry trench, it’s still fun to browse their colorful collection. They have departments for men, women, accessories and jeans. The stock is replenished on Fridays.

Le Cygne Rose  is located at 45 Rue Saint Paul. Whereas Tilt and The Hippy Market sell second-hand clothes, Thibault at Le Cygne Rose sells exquisite antique dresses and accessories. The depth of what they sell in the shop is really quite outstanding. Not only do they offer truly rare 18th to 19th- century pieces from this pretty pink shop, they also feature antique and vintage 1900 – 1970s clothing too, including wedding dresses, jewelry, underpinnings, gloves, hats, fans, and a collection of amazing vintage shoes. Le Cygne Rose, which means The Pink Swan, also offers table linens, vintage fabrics, and lace.

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Lead photo credit : Photo credit © L’objets qui parle

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A freelance writer and amateur historian, Hazel knew she wanted to focus on the lives of French artists and femme fatales after an epiphany at the Musée d'Orsay. A life-long learner, she is a recent graduate of Art History from the University of Toronto. Now she is searching for a real-life art history mystery to solve.