Archive for the ‘France’ Category

2011 Provence Vintage Buying Tour

February 1, 2011

What’s your picture of the ideal vintage treasure hunt?  Mine is spending a week in Provence visiting my favorite vintage sources, finding jaw dropping prices, and enjoying delicious meals with a small group of like-minded friends, as we create a memorable adventure.

You are invited to join me for the 2011 Provence Vintage Buying Tour set for September 8 – 14, 2011.

We will stay in the picturesque town of Aix-en-Provence.  Our charming hotel will be steps away from the lively Cours Mirabeau, a wonderful street lined with stately trees, fountains, bistros and fun shops.  This beautiful town is brimming with gorgeous architecture along with modern amenities.  Best of all is its welcoming and relaxing atmosphere.

Joining us as our tour guide will be Jill Mitchell of Le Trip,  Jill and I have worked together on previous trips, and she is an absolute joy to work with – fluent in French, an expert vintage shopper, knows where the best meals are to be found, and can even navigate a large van through a cozy flea market parking lot!

Jill will share some of her secret addresses with us as we explore areas in and around Aix.  We’ll travel to other villages and towns to shop the vide greniers (community garage sales), brocantes (flea markets), consignment stores (similar to our thrift stores), and experience authentic vintage shopping with the locals.  I guarantee you will find bargains and exceptionally reasonable prices.

Besides shopping, we’ll enjoy French culture as we participate in a cooking class in a splendid chateau.  There will be free time to experience Aix on your own.  And by the end of the week, you will feel comfortable exploring one of Aix’s outdoor markets with an amazing offering of vintage linens, French clothing, farm fresh food gifts, spices and handmade soaps – on your own, or with your new tour friends.

We are keeping this group small with only six places, so each of you gets plenty of attention.  For more details about this trip of a lifetime, and how to register, please click the 2011 Provence Vintage Buying Tour page at the top right hand side of my blog.  If you have questions, please feel free to email me at deadline for reserving your spot on this memorable tour is April 1, 2011.

I hope you can join us!


Day Six – Last Day in Aix

October 6, 2010

Aix had been our handy home base for our week in Provence.  We spent our last day enjoying the weekly market.  Here’s a bounty of beautiful herbs and spices.

So many tempting sausages.

Sandra and another sausage vendor.

A mountain of mushrooms.

It’s the perfect market because besides offering all the fresh foods, there were vintage items for sale, handmade soaps, linens, jewelry and new clothing.  Sorry there are no pictures of that part.  I was doing a bit of shopping instead.  The new, down-sizing Beth had fallen off that wagon for the week!

A little aside – starting the  night before, we had begun our packing.  Everyone bought way more stuff than would easily fit in our suitcases.  It became a community effort.  Our suitcase was big enough for Judy’s architectural piece.  Cathy G and Sandra shared an extra suitcase that had arrived empty.  And this little travel scale we had brought bounced from room to room.

It is surprisingly accurate, and we all ended up with no extra-heavy baggage fees! 

The afternoon activity for our last day was a tour and tasting of absinthe and other specialties of the house at the Liquoristerie.  Pascal is preparing to start our tastings with a marvelous sparkling rose.  This is also the home of the rebirth of absinthe, which we all shared and enjoyed.  You can just see the top part of Pascal and Jill’s kitty, Betty Boop, sitting at the bar with us.

Before long it was time for our farewell dinner together with Jill, our fantastic tour guide, for this incredible week.  Each day was memorable, and the week in Provence absolutely glorious!

Day Five – Calming Cassis

October 4, 2010


After three days of vintage shopping in high gear, we were ready for a relaxing day in the beautiful town of Cassis, right on the Mediterranean.


Lots of charming shops.

I still want this dress.

Jill (on the left) took us into a pharmacie – a drugstore with very knowledgable people.  Cathy C & Cathy G both bought face creams, and vow to return to Provence for refills.

I was intrigued with this display.

Sandra outside of a lovely linens shop.

Even the streets were pretty.

Cathy G soaking up the sunny scenery.

Judy sporting her stylish hat.

The Good Husband, Raoul, in his element on the water.  He is a natural sailor.

We were all mesmerized by the magical colors of the water inside the calanques (finger-shaped inlets) along the coast.

Far too soon, it was time to head back into the port.

Time for lunch.  Two French words I could remember right away – chaud chevre – hot goat cheese.  I was so busy stuffing this into my face that I didn’t get a nice shot of lunch location – looking right out onto that dreamy port.

We wandered the side streets after lunch.

Our terrific time in Cassis ended with a visit to this soap shop, which was pleasing to the eye as well as the nose.

A magnificent day!

Day Four – Best Shopping Day of My Life

October 1, 2010

Day Four – little did I know when we got ready so early, that the brocante shopping experience to come would be so incredible!

We stopped for coffee, pastries and yogurt along the way.  Delish.

Jill is giving us last minute instructions of where and when to hook up with one another again in a couple of hours.

And we’re off!

It was a gigantic venue.  I power-shopped, and still did not see every vendor.

From here on out, I was focused on shopping and not taking pictures.  I got a kick out of these gorgeous seltzer bottles being displayed in a lowly plastic laundry basket.

Many of the displays were very simple – items placed on a blanket on the ground.

When we’d meet up, there would be show and tell.  That huge wooden spool of grey silk cord was one of my favorite finds of the day.

What made this shopping day the best ever was I was surrounded by more vintage French wonderfulness than I could have imagined.  Everything was affordable to downright cheap.  I had to dig through boxes to find the good stuff, which I enjoy.  And I had to use my French, along with hand and body language, and my trusty paper and pen.  I was aware and grateful for each moment, because I knew it would be a while before I’d be lucky enough to experience a place as perfect as this again.

Day Three – Avignon Brocante

September 29, 2010

There was shopping.

And music.

And textiles.

And drinking.

And people watching.

Then we went to Isle sur la Sorge, and did and saw more of the blissful same!  Paradise times two.

Day Two – Provence Vintage Buying Tour

September 27, 2010


Our day started with a lovely breakfast at the home of a charming French brocanteuse (antique dealer), Colette (second from the right).  It was a heavenly setting – delicious food – and an absolutely enchanting hostess.  We fell in love with her immediately!

Colette has a little shop in her house.

So many wonderful things, and her prices were most reasonable.

Lucky us, we got to visit inside her home as well.

Her decorating style is divine.

An amazing hat pin collection.

Her collections are stunning.

That is a tiptop assortment of cafe au lait bowls.

Before we knew it, three hours in Colette’s company had flown by.  It was really hard to say good bye to our new friend.  But we consoled ourselves at a consignment shop in Aix that Jill had taken to me before.  More great finds at dirt cheap prices. 

It was time for lunch.

We appreciated this table setting detail.

For our last stop of the day, Jill took us to another of her secret addresses.

The best blue.

Treasures and chickens.

I had learned on my previous trip to this junkers’ wonderland to make a pile of whatever I wanted, and I would be told a price by this sweetie pie that would be a good deal.  Jill in her cute shoes was standing by to do any translating for us.  And indeed, we all received great prices. 

By then I was figuring out how to take videos on our new camera.  Now to figure out how to upload them for the next post!

Day One – Provence Vintage Buying Tour

September 24, 2010


Here was our predicament for the six days we spent looking for treasures in Provence – we could afford nearly every wonderful thing, but so many things were not going to fit in our suitcases.  This twin metal bed frame was 30 euros – around $39!

Here’s another shot to help you appreciate the bed lust we were feeling.  And you don’t even want to know how cheap those armoires were priced.

But back to the beginning of this day.  The Good Husband and I met three members of our group at the train station in Paris.  We shared a speedy three hour train ride on the TGV straight to Aix.  There we hooked up with Jill Mitchell of Le Trip, our wonderful tour guide, and the fourth member of my travel group.  Jill had a deluxe van waiting for us, loaded us up, and we headed to Marseille.

I had always wanted to visit an Emmaus store.  I would liken them to our Goodwills. 

The aqua, enamel table was 15 euros. 

You gotta love a place that hangs pot lids on its’ fence and crafts whimsical creations from found objects.  It is part of the universal junkers’ language that needs no translation.  You either get it or you don’t.

Here’s a shot of our dream team of travelmates – Sandra, Cathy G, Cathy C and Judy (left to right).

After checking into our chaming hotel in Aix, and a little time to get settled into our rooms, it was time for a stroll to dinner.

I went for comfort food and savored my cheesey potato dish.  We enjoyed a leisurely dinner, and headed back to our hotel to rest up for Day Two.  Each day was memorable and special.  But our Day Two was off the charts fabulous!  Please stay tuned for those stories, and my first efforts using the video thing on our new camera.

Paris in 48 Hours

September 22, 2010

Paris in September = magnificent!  We had two days before the Provence Vintage Buying Tour began, so we hit the streets as soon as we could get out of our taxi and park our bags in the lobby of our hotel in the Marais district.  This was the first picture I took.  Raoul looks darn good after a 10 hour flight.  Seeing outfits like this in shop after shop, kept my energy flowing.

One of our first stops was to replenish my tea supply at Mariage Freres – a kilo of two of my favorites.

Another priority stop was Free’P’Star – a wonderful vintage and second-hand clothing store in the Marais.  I did well in the 3 euros per item bin, as well as the scarves for one euro each.  I even went crazy and bought a lovely, hand-embroidered nightgown for a whopping 10 euros. 

We walked and walked.

And ate at places like this and people watched.

I was so flattered that shop keepers greeted and spoke to me in French this time around.  I am determined to return the favor when we return for our next visit. 

As much as I adore Provence, I truly love Paris as well!

Beth’s Money Shot in Provence

September 16, 2010


I have a ton of photos of our recent fantastic Vintage Buying Tour of Provence to share with you.  I decided to start off by posting my money shot.  Here we have the famous French Husband of Corey Amaro, well known for her hugely popular Tongue In Cheek blog, on the left.  Sitting with him is my husband, Raoul, now known as The Good Husband.  He was given this name by our fabulous group of fellow travelers.  These two good lookers had a great time sharing stories about women they know and their penchants for buying and collecting too much stuff. 

While they were having a good visit, our group was having an afternoon drink with Corey herself!  On Monday, I’ll share those pictures, and how this surprise visit took place.  Plus oodles of other pictures of this glorious trip will be coming your way.

Provence Vintage Buying Trip

July 17, 2010

There are two spots left on my Vintage Buying Tour to Provence for September 9 – 15, 2010.  My friend in Aix, Jill Mitchell, and I have dreamed up a tour that is my idea of wonderfulness!  We are going to shop for vintage treasures with the locals – lots of bargains and fair deals in a variety of settings.  Some venues will require digging to find the good stuff, some will be more traditional flea market venues, and all will be charming!  Jill is a joy to work with – an American, whom understands all our slang, and has lived in France for a while, and mastered the language.

We are keeping this group small with six places, so each of you gets plenty of attention.  There’s still time to sign up and get your airfare squared away.

For more information, with our fabulous itinerary, please email me at