Archives for category: travel

The French have a wonderful habit of not throwing things out, instead they hang on to their junk and then eventually sell it on at ‘Vide Greniers’ (directly translated this means attic emptying). You will find Vide Greniers all over France in both cities and tiny country villages. They are usually on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from March to September but also less frequently in the winter months too. Often they are only advertised with photocopies flyers distributed locally. As with any flea market type affair, it’s advisable to get there early to see the best of what’s on offer and also avoid the heat. At village Vide Greniers the local school committee will often sell tantalisingly tasty food to raise money, this in itself is often worth turning up for!

These photos show a selection of objects I have found over the past few years.


Enamel canisters are super easy to find in France, this little set have the most beautiful lettering, that’s the bit we fell in love with.

We didn’t set out to purchase a hand painted silk fan, one of our children broke it  and we were forced to purchase it, funny enough I quite like it now. The telling off was significant, not just from us but also from the French lady who owned the stall, quite a traumatic experience which I don’t think our son, Jonah will forget in a hurry!


This is Matilda, I got her for 20 euros which is an absolute steal if you’re into dead deer heads. She has a bit of a moth eaten ear so you’ve got to treat her gently. Our kids like dressing her up!


This very odd photograph was bought by my husband who likes to purchase strange things, it was taken by a doctor in the early part of the century, apparently he was doing some kind of research, the photos were all of men stripped from the waist up,  holding weights.


I found this little oil painting last summer, it is probably a painting of the Mediterranean coast. I love the fact that it’s all battered around the edges. I like to think of the person who painted it, perched high up on the hill overlooking the sea and enjoying the sounds and smells of a warm summer’s day. I think it cost me eight or ten euros, I can’t believe I deliberated over it!


This is one of many battered vintage tins which I can’t seem to keep my hands off, I probably found this one at the bottom of a box full of junk. Often at Vide Greniers, the vendors won’t bother to unpack the boxes of things they consider worthless so if you have a good scrabble around in boxes you can usually find a gem for peanuts.


This little set of beauties were bought off guy at a Vide Grenier, he pretty much had an assortment of dirty broken things spread out on a rug on the ground. They were so filthy you could not really tell what the base colour really was! I have since spotted the same set sporting a hefty price tag in a shop in London.

My eye was attracted to a clamour of intriguing vintage objects as I made my way up one of the tiny narrow cobbled streets in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam. 

It was the style of the objects which made me stop in my tracks, at first it could have been mistaken for a French brocante but on closer inspection it turned out to be a much more unusual find for this part of the world, America vintage!

A glorious mishmash of signing, crockery, toys and furniture, each piece with a history and story to tell of a life on another continent.

Wonderfully battered lived in surfaces, solid wood marked with ownership of life, toys scraped and played with but still holding on to their former beauty, enamel signs in strong colours and simple type harking back to their original purpose.


Gathered together by a man with a dream, Mark Woodley, former resident of New York grew tired of the pressures of living a trendy life. In true filmic style he got himself a truck and hit the road, driving all over Michigan, Connecticut and Maine sniffing out his incredible collection from rural yard sales on the road.



Mark has also sought out newly created items giving his shop a more diverse range. Every item Mark chooses has a story which has won him over and is likely to ultimately win his customers over. One such example is a range of gigantic three dimensional traditionally designed stars fashioned by an Amish community from old barn roofs, the urge to stroke the galvanised metal surface is irresistible, layers of paint battered and faded by the endless drive of weather causes colour and texture no man could re-create.


You can find ‘Hudson River’ on Eerste Egelantiersdwarsstraat in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam.