Best ever Puce Buy?

Those who have ever read the odd ramblings I put here will know that I am a Vides Grenier/Puce/Brocante freak. In fact my main entertainment over the Summer, with my clothes on - although I have forgotten what the alternative was, is to vist 2-3 of these on a Sunday.

I have found them a) great in finding places I would never otherwise have seen b) good for attempting to improve my rotten French and c) which really should be a) I suppose - trying to find a bargain.

Now I am not like my wife who goes out with a dedicated ‘wish list’ and if she doesn’t find what she wants dismisses the event as ‘rubbish’. I on the other hand go out with little or few preconceptions other than a ‘one euro’ mentality. One of the last Great Spenders on the planet?

I accept that I can wander into 'multiples of one-euro’when collections of some sort appear. In that category I bought an amazing collection of 48 Classical Music mixes in wallets with explanatory books - and still new and wrapped up. Price €12,00! That was a happy day - and I know the mathematics don’t add up but you get my drift, I hope?

But how often can you say you bought a bit of magic at a Puce?

Well, I did.

Three years ago I bought a little clock (see picture)and I doubled my money and bought it for two euros. I got it home and looked for a place to put a battery and couldn’t find one, in fact I couldn’t find anyway of winding it up, or even opening it. I was a touch peeved, but put it on the mantlepiece anyway, where it sat forlornly for a couple of weeks. Suddenly I noticed that the time was changing on it, and not only changing but was exact timing!

Since then it has kept perfect time changing daylight saving and all the rest. It is not plugged in, I have never put a battery in it, wound it up, cleaned it - nothing.

Now this is magic as far as I am concerned. On the clockface there is a small note that it is ‘radio-controlled’ - but by whom? Where are these Controllers? Are they human or alien? How did they find me and my little buddy clock? I have moved address twice since I acquired it.

No matter, it is still the best Puce Buy EVER as far as I am concerned.

Waht was YOUR best ever Puce/Vide grenier/Brocante bargain?

Hi Jo, must admit I never thought of buying a wife in a Puce? Hmm - maybe a new type of dating service here? Have the assortment up on a block and open for bids? Wait a minute, they used to do that didn't they? Something about slavery?

Maybe the only thing that has gone is the block? Net result seems about the same?

Yes, the discovery' of a valuable painting is everyone's dream isn't it? My missus sees me as the ever-diminishing glass of opportunity the older I get - and she's probably right, but I keep trying (or being 'more-trying' as she would put it!)

My blokey, is "Brian le Brocanteur Brittainique" here in the Vienne & roundabaouts, so I suppose I should include him at the top of my list, but that would be too soppy. Personally here in France, my favourite things are very mundane, such as the two settee throws I use for 2 euros and the Emmaus mattresses for 10 euros.. Brian comes up with the odd story from fellow brocanteurs though, such as a friend of a friend/brocanteur who found a Turner drawing worth upwards of 80,000, bought for a few hundred. Brian hasn't been so lucky yet, and I say 'yet', because I reckon it's far more likely than winning the lottery. So I look on my blokey as my half full glass of never-ending sources of a better chance at the lottery!!!

Hi Alastair - nope -truly magical, absolutely nowhere or no-way to feed a battery in any physical sense.

Wow! I'm not a skier but to kit a 4 member family for just E9,00 sounds very, very cheap (inexpensive?) to me!

Ski clothes for the whole family (4) for I think it was 9€ all up. Didn't include gloves for me, which I had to get new, cost about 20€

Hi Jerry, not quite in reverse, but I found this in a second-hand shop in Spain about 40 years ago. Being a bit of an 'expert' in print, I soon spotted it was an original, knowing a substantial amount about paper as well, I also saw the paper was about early 2Oth century poor quality. I also recognised the style as Toulouse-Lautrec.

It was not exactly a great financial risk and I paid about 100FF for it, whilst secretly wondering whether I had found a 'missing masterpiece'! Others had, so why not Norm? It carried no signature on the front, but when I removed it from the rickety old frame I nearly had a heart attack to see the recognisable TL on the back.

I checked my files and the painting is of Jane Avril, and can be seen in almost every collection of Lautrec's works. I always liked the fact that he painted on anything - brown wrapping paper, old cartons, anything he could lay his hands on, so all this seemed to come together, so I duly romped off to the Toulouse-Lautrec Gallery in Albi and saw the Curator there with my prized possession. She looked at it briefly, mocked it and said "we have the original here" and pointed out the work which was about ten times the size of mine, and showed me the door (metaphorically).

Now I tried the question of an 'esquisse' or an initial sketch from which a large work is often done (I have used this technique myself when doing posters in my career), but she pooh-poohed the idea that 'Toulouse -Lautrec never did things like that'. Which may be true, but a hell of a lot of other artists and impressionists certainly did, and the betraying grid lines on many such works prove this.

Of course, much more likely is a student copy, and if so is one of the best I have ever seen as the line and brush technique is practically identical to the 'original'.

Happily I love the work and it sits quite perfectly close to the dining table and is, if nothing else, a conversation-starter, so it was a well-spent 100FF all round in my book.![](upload://jUumAd8FBaFes9Su1TgnTx672jk.JPG)

Jane, before moving here in December (Correze), we lived in Burgundy - on the extreme Eastern edge with the Jura starting at th end of our garden. We noticed the amazing differences from each side if the Autoroute splitting Burgundy vertically - on the one side were the Clichy oriented places where every Puce fancied itself as a Brocante AND property prices were at least twice the Saone-et-Loire on the other side of the autoroute. Maybe because Burgundy is so wide with one side being closer to Paris perhaps?

You must be in the wrong place?

My biggest problem is having big feet, I feel like Gulliver in Lilliput trying to find shoes 46-47 size! Used to be the same problem finding shirts with 17.5" necks until I lost my 25kg. That at least has eased - now just XL instead of XXL!

Chris, amazing how original thinking can come into play isn't it. Loved the cabinet on which it sits by the way.

It's always hard to choose because my OH has such great skill at getting the best stuff for the daftest prices. This candlestick made from an old cider press screw we came across at a local depot vent cost us just 2 Euros. When we went back the following week they had another one on the shelf (similar but not as good) priced at 25 Euros!… Result!

definitely has to be in 1997 at the big market at Marsac near Angoulême - where I found an old oak chopping board complete with cut out for grinding up herbs in one corner - it measures about 35cm x 25cm x 4cm thick

solid as iron and indestructable

it cost me the princely sum of 10 Francs

A few years ago I bought a Pyrax steamer...for about E10. It has two separate steaming dishes... so I can steam one... or two different vegetables at the same time...and if I take the two steamers off...the bottom plus lid becomes a nice serving dish. I've never seen one before...nor since. Great find!!!

Shortly before we moved to France seven years ago I was given a "Boots Radio Controlled Travel Alarm Clock". Very thoughtful. The time is set automatically from a "beacon" somewhere in the UK. But UK time! So regardless of what you do to it, it eventually resets itself to one hour ago! So it's a bit like Russian Railways, where it is always Moscow time.

Last year I bought a beautiful old gilt framed mirror for 60 euros. After paying for it, I discovered that it was made around 1815.![](upload://mMisrHcV2IkCK0JfF7Mom4qH7t8.jpg)

I'm looking forward to checking out a few vides greniers when I move over later this year. There's got to be a Renoir or two tucked away somewhere. My prize car boot buy so far has been a well-crafted brass gyroscope I picked up in Cyprus for a couple of pounds (it was pre-euro). It was made by the splendidly named Bludgeon Engineering in England and presented to a marketing company for some reason.

There was a lot of hype about radio-controlled clocks a few years ago and you can now pick them up quite cheaply. Trouble is, bog-standard battery clocks and watches are now so accurate that synchronising your clock to atomic vibrations relayed into your living room is probably overkill. My mantlepiece clock came courtesy of a few cigarette coupons many years ago and the time is spot-on.

Unless your clock is truly magical, Norman, there will be a battery somewhere. The radio control just adjusts the time. It looks like a nice piece of kit.

I have to say that here in Burgundy the prices that are charged at puces or vides greniers are astronomical.I think my best buy has been a Shepherd & Neame old beer jug which I bought for four euros. It is quite cracked and, according to the dealer he bought it in Kent a few months before. I bought it as a surprise for my husband, who used to get through a few pints of the contents of said jug!

I also managed to find a very warm coat for five euros.

My purchases are few and far between due to those very high prices. We have an english friend who has a small antique stall in UK and has a home in one of our nearest villages. She says that the prices trhat people are charging for absolute rubbish is amazing.

I am getting the answer panel blocked by advertising which i cannot get rid of, so am typing this 'blind' so hopefully not too many typos are slipping through? Thanks for that Brian, and no there is no Omega logo on the clock, so the mystery remains.
I have spoken to several quite techie people about it, including one guy who worked on the GPS tracking system, and even he is puzzled, as on the one hand (apparently) this is old technology and yet works beautifully.
With my commercial hat on I suspect that it was one of those products like ladder-free tights, puncture-proof cycle tyres etc., that were simply too good for a planned obsolescence society and was quietly ditched or the inventors bought out. Not much profit in a product like this is there?

It would be impossible to say which vide grenier or vide maison bargain is the greatest, we have plenty.

The clock? Omega make the only genuine radio controlled clocks and watches. That is is not an Omega logo though but something imitating it, so not the real McCoy. Don't know about value, but if it was a genuine Ω watch and new it would be €5,000 and upward.

Oh what a darling little clock! cant quite compete with that for beauty but value wise bought a brand new, still in the box and never been used, pasta making machine for €2. It was day two of our move over here and had never heard of Troc a puces etc at that point but obviously have been a big fan ever since.