Flea Market Finds for the Garden: Paris and Belgium Buying Trip

Paris blog

As an enthusiast of all things French, I had visited Paris and other areas of France a few times. But when I stumbled across a book about the Paris flea market scene, to say that I was intrigued is an understatement.

I wanted to see another side of Paris, beyond the tourist trek, to pull back the curtain on the Paris known to locals. Equal to my longing was hesitation. How would I find, navigate and negotiate my way? Then should I find treasure, how would I transport it home?

The answer came in a rare opportunity to join a group of other landscape designers from the U.S. who would be doing just that on a Garden Objects and Ornaments Buying Trip.

Dreams do come true!

Our guides led us on our foray into the paradise that is the Paris Flea market. We confidently perused every stall, discovering treasure and exploring a bevy of bounty. Antique and vintage furniture, clothing, jewelry, paintings and chandeliers – I even tried on a Siberian leopard fur coat! Whatever you can dream of and more you can find there! With 7 hectares of dealers, you will not leave empty-handed or disappointed.

Our trip included admission to the Maison et Objet Paris Design Trade fair. Open only to the design trade, it features several buildings of exhibit halls brimming with new trends in textiles, furniture, outdoor accessories and more. Breathtaking displays of luxurious living, design trends from around the world and seminars by top industry leaders are just a few highlights of this beautiful show. While M&O runs for only four days, you need all of them to cover everything it has to offer.

Also on our itinerary were two sources of fabulous outdoor accessories. Fort Royal in Paris is a broker for French artisans using traditional methods and standards of quality. One such company is Jardins du Roi Soleil, the only licensed manufacturer of the orange planters and benches of Versailles. Each planter and bench is made to order allowing you to customize the size, color, finish, and trims. The planters can even be made into tables, so you can bring the outdoors inside for a wonderfully charming effect. Fort Royal also represents stained glass artists, cabinet makers, ironworkers and gunsmiths. If you’re looking for functional art, Fort Royal is the place to start.

We also visited Atelier Vierkant, a clay pot maker, in Belgium. We were greeted by the founder, Willy Janssens, and his son Dries and taken on a tour of the entire facility. Willy explained it took him almost 10 years to perfect his clay formula and the process of hand making each pot. His kiln was custom built to his specifications and looked the size of semi-truck trailer. Willy’s wife, Annette, is the product designer, and she talked to us about her inspirations and the long process of training each artist. She explained the importance of the hands-on process, as we watched the young artisans sculpting and honing each piece to perfection. The family controls all production, ordering, and shipment, so they are able to provide top-notch service. And despite their global reputation, they exude a quiet confidence that immediately made me consider how I could incorporate their beautiful pieces into my designs. Our time with the Janssens family ended with a quintessential tea and biscuits, over which they shared upcoming projects and personal anecdotes.

But our exploration wasn’t finished yet! Then it was off to the Belgian countryside to scour architectural salvage yards, flea markets and vintage shops filled with gates, fencing, doors, tiles, columns, windows and more. So what does all of this mean for you? SOURCES! Sources of art, functional pieces, and decor that possess history and time-worn charm. Sources for objects built by true craftsmen with pride in their trades.

If you’d like more information about how I can help you source vintage or antique outdoor architectural salvage, pots, or other décor, call or email me today!

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