Amiens, for me, is the ultimate venue to feed my passion.
It’s second to Lille… which I would not be comfortable doing as it’s just too big. Actually for me, a woman on my own, I would not consider safe. Everyone knows that there are masses of cash in the peoples pockets that go. Not meaning to do the big scare tactic, I have heard of people being robbed and pick pocketed there.
Amiens is the perfect size. There are anywhere from 2,500+ vendors set up throughout the streets of the center. It opens at 5am and they say it closes at 6pm but most vendors start packing up around 3-4 in the afternoon as the bulk of their business is done in the early morning.
Since this was to be my last of the year, I decided to get there as early as I possibly could. I woke at 4:30 and was on the road by 5:20am. You just don’t know what the word dark is until you travel on the A16 motorway and arrive into the city center at that time in the morning! There are NO lights on the motorway. It’s actually kind of eerie. I found a great parking space, but don’t mumble obviously at that time of the morning, as it was one of the last in the area that I wanted to park!
As I walked to the street of the area I had chosen to start it dawned on me how difficult it was going to be to see the items displayed with only the weak street lights.
This blur of a photo gives you a good idea of how dark it was!
My starting point
As I started I saw that almost everyone was carrying high powered or neon flashlights. What was I thinking not to bring one myself! The whole atmosphere at this time of morning was so different than I had ever experienced. It was so quiet. There was plenty of room to walk and cross from one side of the street to the other, to view the stands without having to peek through tiny openings. People were speaking in low voices and serious about doing business. It was surreal… and I’m already psyched to do it again even earlier and better equipped with light. One vendor brought out his big D cell lamp for me to use to look at some of his items it was interested in. Truly, this was the ideal time and experience I’ve ever had. I was finding gems right and left. Maybe because there was so much more to choose from. Maybe it was the vendors that knew that everyone there at that time of the morning were serious buyers who knew and appreciated what they were selling, not just bottom fishers-not careing so much about what they were buying vs getting it for cheap.
As the sun rose and the street lights were turned off, the people started to pour in and the atmosphere changed. My backpack was already heavy but there were still many many more stands to see.
I took three photos as the morning went on to share the change from my starting point as the day wore on.
The majority of vendors are professionals that arrive in their trucks at midnight, sleep a few hours and then set up for the early morning start at 5am.
There are usually many Dutch and British people that come with vans and trucks to buy in massive quantity. I like to keep a low profile as I feel that the minute a professional vendor hears english or dutch they price their items higher, knowing they’re more inclined to pay their prices because, to them, it’s still inexpensive.
But oh, what wonderful stands full of great treasures.
By mid-day I was only half-way through and my forward progress was being substantially slowed by the crowds. I had to pull out a carry bag from my back pack to distribute my load. By 4:00pm I had covered every street and stand. My back was killing me from the weight of my back pack, and I was exhausted but oh, what treasures I had found!
Silver plated cigar holder
Marked Winston Churchill
Cabinet War Room London
This cigar holder is the most amazing find!
Metal mesh bag
This tiny mesh bag is in excellent condition.
The thing that makes this one so different is the little bar above the clasp.
The two tabs on the side edges is a locking mechanism
Granier & Chavonnet was a plumbing company in the 1920s and 30s.
Door knob from 1920s
Example of what happens when there’s not enough light to inspect your items.
Ladle — SOLD —
with initial on back
Silver escargot fork Fullers in script Ro: 822469
2 stamped leaf style absinthe spoons
Silver serrated knives – Devos on handles
Bar tab saucers:
This saucer was a mystery to me
These saucers were a clever way for bars and cafés to keep track of customers bills.
Each drink was served on a saucer that was either marked with a price or just a a different colored band around the edges.
Then, when the customer called for their bill, the waiter would simply add up the saucers at the table.
Bistro / Absinthe glasses:
These glasses are all very old and hand blown.
Very old pitcher with two digit phone number
These Berger water pitchers were the rage this year
Humorous St. Amand plate
For my Sherpa
Small Apilco Terrine
Medium Apilco Terrine
What a wonderful ending to my brocanting in 2013 in France.
At the moment we have prepared the maximum amount of baggage we can take home.
Sadly, I had to leave 5 small boxes of items for the next trip in the spring. …hopefully it will be around the time of the April Amiens brocante.
Once home, I’ll be trying a new venue instead of eBay. Please send me your comments and ideas if you have any.