Looking for vintage treasures while travelling…

I love to travel, and I always try to combine travelling with my passions: hunting for vintage and antiques, photography as well as sampling the local food…During my last trip to France, I always had to keep in mind how much room I had left in my suitcase…Every time that I saw a sign that said ‘Brocante’* or ‘Foire aux puces’*, I could feel my heart beat faster!* (*it would be the equivalent of a flea market or garage sale, except that some of the sellers at the brocante are antique dealers or ‘brocanteurs’)

Window in Guerande
Window in Guerande, France

As we were driving thru the area of Guerande, in the South West of France, we saw a poster advertising a brocante for the next day. The area is very famous for their sea salt, and you can now find it in most supermarket all over Europe and North America. Sorry, I digress, but I have to share this information as it’s a perfect destination (and a best kept secret!) if you are a gourmet.

So we woke up early the next day (well, not that early…) and after a stop at the bakery, we walked to the brocante. I was totally overwhelmed by the gorgeous location,  as well as the quality of the items. The sellers were spread out around an old church, and I fell like I was in an episode of the Antique Roadshow!

Flea Market in France
Antique market in France


I bought some old magazines and newspapers (as it’s very light and doesn’t take much room in the suitcase!). I enjoy reading the articles, looking at the old advertisements and illustrations. Two of the magazines I bought were called ‘L’Illustration’ and were dated from Christmas 1913 and Christmas 1916. It’s interesting to observe the difference between the magazines: the 1913 edition is a bit more entertaining, and the 1916 edition obviously more dark as it was in the middle of the First World War.

French ads 002

The main topic in the earlier magazine is about art. It contains a lot of illustration, and the advertisements are about perfumes, watches, fabric, furnitures and alcohol.  One of the ads that caught my eye was from A. Lancel. The company was founded in Paris in 1876 by Angèle Lancel. ‘La Maison Lancel’ as it was then known, was producing clocks, lighters, luggage, glasses, tableware and purses. The luxury brand is now focusing on leather goods only and is famous worldwide for their purses, luggage and leather accessories.

The 1916 edition obviously has some more serious topics. Some of the testimonies of the soldiers are very touching and heartbreaking at the same time. They were ill equipped and a lot of soldiers thought that it was going to be a short war, and a bit of an adventure. Unfortunately it lasted 4 long years.

Most of the newspapers and magazines now have an online version and a lot of them don’t have a paper edition anymore. But I think it’s important to enjoy those old fashion newspapers (listed under ‘paper ephemera’ in most online sites).

The ads were about chocolate, perfumes (it’s war, but the French like their perfumes!), cars. cameras and even prosthetics!  (yes, you read correctly: artificial limbs). The ad that I noticed was about Burberry’s coats.French ads 001.JPG

The translation of the tag line would be: ‘Overcoat for the Winter that are light, warm, comfortable and very practical.’

The British fashion house was founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry. In 1880, he introduced the ‘gabardine’ fabric, which was a waterproof, very resistant and yet breathable fabric. In 1909, the first Burberry store  in France opens in Paris. In 1914, Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt the officer’s coat to be able to stand the weather condition during the war. And that’s where the name ‘trench coat’ comes from!

What was your best vintage find while ‘on the road’?

Isabelle V.



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