Drouot Auction House: Treasures and Curiosities for Every Budget

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Drouot Auction House: Treasures and Curiosities for Every Budget
Have you ever wanted to bring some of that Parisian je ne sais quoi to your home or apartment? A few silver pieces, antique porcelain, an engraving, an astrolabe or perhaps an 18th-century portrait? Would you prefer Cubist art, Art Deco furniture, or an unusual treasure from another culture? Maybe you would just like to find a vintage pin or a designer purse. Yes, you could brave the immense flea markets of Paris, should you be visiting. But flea markets, as entertaining as they are, can be daunting in size and intimidating, especially if language presents a barrier and haggling over price makes you uncomfortable. Yet there is another venue where all those enticing items and more can be had with eye-popping ease, and often at shockingly affordable prices. Where? At one of the world’s most famous auction houses: the Hôtel Drouot at 9, rue Drouot, in the 9th arrondissement. Clocks and paintings at Drouot in 2022. Photo credit: Ellen A Auction houses like Drouot can seem rarified temples, reserved solely for elites and collectors with bottomless bank accounts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Of course, Drouot can and does regularly put up items of great value. Later this month Drouot will auction off a fossilized dinosaur skeleton expected to sell for half a million euros. What many do not realize, however, is that Drouot’s ever changing and expanding inventory is vast and the normal range of auction prices runs from under 100 euros to several thousand. And that is where the excitement begins! The first thing to know about Drouot is how accessible the bidding process is, and how inexpensive your winning bid may turn out to be. Whether you attend an auction in person, or travel online in your armchair to Paris, the auctioneers at Drouot dutifully describe and artfully display their wonders to the world. The breadth of history and personal story of the offerings can be mesmerizing. An Auction at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1921, Public Domain Don’t speak French? No problem. Drouot online offers several languages on their website (drouot.com). To make things easier for you, Drouot’s experts estimate in advance the range for the winning bid for each item, so you can decide for yourself how much you are willing to part with to acquire an item. As an online bidder, I have won bids well under 100 euros to become the happy owner of a 19th-century Gien cachepot, an early 20th-century gilded mirror, a hunting tapestry, a late 19th-century watercolor of a man and his dog in the snow, and a vintage burled-wood gaming box. Printed tapestry on burlap type fabric – 30 euros – purchased January 2022. Photo credit: Ellen A.
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Lead photo credit : The Drouot auction room in 2022. Photo credit: Ellen A.

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Following a long and fulfilling career as a government attorney in California, Ellen retired to France several years ago with her husband, a novelist. They are enjoying a second life here in Paris with their unruly Cairn terrier, and make frequent visits to Normandy, where they are restoring a small village house.