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Embracing Flaws: The Beauty of Perfectly Imperfect French Brocante

Updated: Jan 4

Seeking out the most beautifully patinated pieces isn't just a job, it's my passion! Here's an insight into the work of a Parisian antique hunter.

As a professional brocanteuse, (the French term for an antique seller) I have every excuse to do a U-turn if I pass an open antique shop, always seaching for "The One" and you never know where it will be found.

Most often these days, I'm found shopping at Paris flea markets, but I can never pass up an opportunity of truffling through boxes of household detritus at a county Vide Greniers or a thrift shop, always searching for that one Quintessentially French piece that calls out to me; very often the diamond in the rough. 

When I hold an object in my hand I instinctively know if it’s right or not, and if I go against my instinct I will never like it, it doesn't end up in my web shop, I will never offer something that's not right for sale on Quintessentially French - it goes straight into the Vide Grenier box when I get home. (French residents, and even professional sellers like me, can have an occasional clear out and sell their own possessions at Vide Greniers or ‘empty your attic’ car boot / garage sale without falling foul of the strict French selling rules.)

What makes a piece right? For me it is something that is well made, has a pleasing form and is made of an attractive material but above all shows the signs of its age and past life. A treasure to me is honest, timeworn and bears the scars of its history with pride (a bit like me really!). If I ignore my instinct and leave a piece behind, it haunts my memory and I have to go back for it!

I'd love to know whether you like your French antique treasure as pristine as possible or patinated and perfectly imperfect, do tell me in the comments. I believe it should be entirely a matter of personal preference, and follow the sage advice of Willian Morris.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

William Morris

A selection of French antique hand made rustic stoneware with pink peonies
Beautiful home grown peonies, resplendent in perfectly imperfect hand made French stoneware

Why I always seek the perfectly imperfect French brocante treasures

We're all flawed as humans, and with brocante as with me, every stain, mark, chip or ancient crack tells a story!

For a found piece the flaws tell the story of the lives of the previous owners. This is what fascinates me and a perfectly imperfect find thatI know to be beautiful makes my heart flutter!

I do have many 'nearly perfect' pieces in my collection too, they are all special and charming in a different way, often preserved from having been treasured for generations by their family.

Embracing the 'flaws' or in my view, patina

Let me tell you a story, this is why I never polish the metal products in my store

On a quick stop at a Brocante shop, at the bottom of a box of new stock was a beautiful silver galleried tray - heavy, great decoration, perfect size and ...

... The patina! To die for! Years of use followed by years of storage had given this tray the most beautiful iridescent sheen, I could already picture it in a vignette with some hand blown bubbly glasses, a foxed mirror and candles' flickering light.

As it was new stock it had to be taken to the boss for pricing, so I continued my happy journey around he shop.

Arriving at the cash desk I was handed a shiny silver platter, whiffing of polish with a proud flourish, “Voila Madame!”

It’s still there in the shop, and I left empty handed, sad and deflated. If I’d wanted shiny as new I could have had that in a few clicks, delivered to my door!

Timeworn treasures are all the more precious through being a rare find!

So, on to the next Brocante in search of patina perfection for your delight, my dear friends of Quintessentially French!

View my Quintessentially French timeworn treasures by following the link:


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