One of my favorite pieces to my business is shopping for  antique French linens.  Here is a little back story on how it all began...In 2015 I tackled my first upholstery project, it was chair that I purchased off of craiglist for $5.  Being inspired by pictures of chairs with grain sack material, this is what I wanted to attempt.  This was the beginning.  I had very little kids at the time and did very little shopping, most especially at antique shops.  I intially thought that I could just run to my local antique mall and grab some grain sacks. Nope.  Its not out of the question that your local antique mall carries a couple, but I quickly found out mine did not, and finding the right vintage fabric was a process.  A process I really enjoy, but there is some work involved.  I was lucky enough to find a lovely grain sack from a seller on ebay, and the outcome was good.  I wanted another project. So next I found a vintage French sofa of craiglist, that had beautiful lines.  I had committed to buying it, when the seller got a higher offer and threw me to curb.  I was sad, I had grown attached already.  But it finally ended up being mine with the other buyer never showed to pick it up.  It had a lot of potential, needed a complete overhaul.  I wanted to use antique hemp linen.  So now I had to get my hands on some...That brought me to here:



Around this time my husband had a business trip in France, he asked me to meet him in Paris for a weekend.  Eveything aligned, that mostly meaning my sister was able to watch my kids, with childcare in place all the other details are easy.  It was a pretty special weekend, I think back on it with fondness.  We wandered, ate crepes, stayed in a nice hotel, and even the book I read on the plane made me happy.  But what was really quite a big deal for me was I needed some antique European hemp sheets for my sofa, and Paris is a good place to find those.  I did as much research as I could online figuring out where the best place to shop for these would be.  I flew in one morning and my husband couldn't meet me until the evening.  My research steered me to the Marais area, so I set out on my own in this direction with a mission.

Paris Courtyard

  There was a courtyard like area tucked in to a block that had several quiant antique shops, I didn't find what I was looking for, but I really enjoyed myself. I wish that I had taken more pictures.  One of the shops I visited was this one, its a treat to just look at their website and dream about picking through the lovely collection of textiles and ribbons:

French store

French shop-photo credit Au Petit Bonheur la Chance-

French Shop-photo credit Au Petit Bonheur la Chance-

I was not disappointed that I didnt find my linens at the shops in the Marais, because I was feeling really hopeful and excited about my luck at a Paris flea market.  There are several flea markets in Paris, there is Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which according to the internet is the most famous flea market in the world. But I found information warning me that the prices were very high, and it wouldn't necessarily be the best for linens.  From what I could gather from my research was that Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves was a bit more causual with better prices and plenty of linens.  So Saturday morning I set out early on the metro by myself to complete my quest.  Antique shopping is not my husbands thing, and I really prefer to not have to drag an unentertained person through stall after stall. In addition I kind of like shopping alone, so it worked out.  We bonded over French pasteries later.   

French Pastries

See THAT is an example of an assortment that served us well.  Back to shopping, although, a proper shopping trip should always include snacks and nourishment.  In my experience sugar is best to keep up the longetivity of a shopping trip, its science :).  French pastries do their job well to keep a sucessful shopping trip going. 

Paris Flea MarketMarche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves                                                                                                                                Paris Flea Market

Okay, now back to shopping, I arrived early due to an internet recommendation.  A bit too early in fact.  And I am not convinced it was necessary.  The atmosphere was not of a hustle to score the best pieces.  It was more like a social event.  Everyone seemed to be leisurely enjoying themselves.  It was lovely.

I speak very limited French. I took French in high school, which equals me being able to introduce myself and order a crepe.  But I did read up on how to ask for a price so I was prepared.  My pronunciation was often not understandable and it was one of those experiences out of my comfort zone, but I tried.  And I always had warm feedback because I made an attempt.  The vendors would either start speaking English to me or if they didn't speak English they would write down the price for me.  Even though I could sort of ask what the price was, it didn't mean I could always (almost never) understand the response.  But it worked out. The mutual goal of a sale and the fact that I tried to speak French in France we worked through any communication barriers.  Paris Flea Market

Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves                                                                                                                                Paris Flea Market

 I loved the flea market.  There were some curated stalls, like this whismical one filled with ribbons, textiles, and vintage childrens sweet toys.  Looking at these pictures make me wish I had bought so much more.Flea market france


Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves                                                                                                                                Paris Flea Market

There were also tables set up that were disorganized and random.  But there were always good stuff to be found.  The dishes!!! There were so many pretty ones!!  And the prices were very good in my opinion.  But there was only so much room in my suitcase.

Paris Flea Market

It took the morning but I eventually found enough linen for my sofa.  I was thrilled.  It was a lot of linen, it didn't make the metro ride back to the hotel easy, but I was beaming inside holding on tightly to my treasure.  Even the plane ride home I was very careful not to check my pile of linen, I carried it on and made sure it was never too far away.  

The quality of the linen made it possible to recover my sofa successfully.  I remember one moment working on an arm, and the fabric stapled beautifully in place without very much effort, it felt wild because I was fairly inexperienced with upholstery and most DIY projects I had done before did not cooperate so easily. Between the magic of a special weekend in a foreign land with my husband and learning that I had a developed a new skill and love and a true love for it, makes this a time that I hold close to my heart.



Obviously these days I can't travel to France for more reasons than just the Covid situation.  But I have found several online shops based in France that I purchase from regularly.  There is nothing like receiving a package from France to make your day.  Sometimes I am just buying a  fabric remenant, some ribbon so shipping remains reasonable and the items arrive and make my project very special.  Here are some of the Etsy shops that I have had the most success with:

Au Pres de Mont Toi