La braderie de Houilles (Garage Sales at Houilles)
Woman with a life-size toy bear for her granddaughter.
Girl happy with the toy pony she found at the fair.
The garage sales at Houilles (outside Paris) is held once a year and is reputed to be the second biggest such fair in France (coming just after the one at Lille) with 2,000 participants spread over 10 kms of road in the town. But unlike the one at Lille, which has become "a must" in every professional antique dealer's circuit, the one at Houilles is almost entirely participated in by private citizens, each of whom takes part with the intention of getting rid of unused or unwanted household items or such. This only makes it even more interesting to the visitor, whose only reason for being there is to look for bargains. And bargains there are a-plenty as the photos will show.
Just as an angler proudly displays his catch, the woman on the right is all smiles with her find - a life-size bear for her granddaughter. She knew she would have a hard time carrying her bear home but she said at only 15 euros she just could not refuse it! The same happiness is on the face of the girl who left with the pony on her back. I was stunned when she said that she paid only 3 euros for it but then the sellers here are not professional ones but mostly housewives who turn saleswomen just for a day.
You can also enjoy exotic food at the garage sales in Houilles such as this stand selling take-home curry chicken and a dozen other dishes from the Antilles islands.
If you are in Paris don't let the name of the place deter you as it is really very easy to get there with RER A from Chatelet-Les Halles or the suburban train from the St. Lazare station. In both cases you get down at the station called Houilles-Carrières-sur-Seine. A return ticket from Paris costs 7 euros or so and the trip itself takes only 15-20 minutes. Once you arrive at the Houilles-Carrières-sur-Seine station (to give the station's full name) you only have to follow the crowd leaving the station as the garage sales already start from just outside the station. The Braderie de Houilles is usually held on the first Sunday of October every year. The next one will be held on Sunday 2 October 2016. You can find out the exact date from the organizers' website here.
As in all garage sales, bargaining is the order of the day and this one is no exception though it is often done good-humouredly, often ending in a win-win situation for both buyer and seller.
Getting into the mood. Click on a photo for a bigger version (1024 x 768px).
Some of the visitors come all the way from Paris.
A housewife selling her 3 children's outworn clothes and toys.
Colourful birds and other pets can also be found there.
How cheap can things be.
Homemade cards stringed across two trees announce: 4 items for 1€.