Sunday, 27 February 2011

Well, here I am being dragged into the 21st century! A blog for me? Really? I guess it is going to happen right now! My friends tell me this is the best way to let them know what I've just brought back from Paris.

For many years I've been traveling to my favorite city in the world to search for antique dolls, toys and accessories. At least twice a year, sometimes more often, I fly to France to go to antiques fairs and flea markets all over the country. I can remember when dolls were simply stacked in piles at the Marché aux Puces in Paris. I remember when all closed mouth French dolls were one price and all open mouth French dolls were another price. (I guess I've given away any secrets about my age with those two remarks.) Today fine quality antique dolls and toys are harder to find in France than in America - and usually more expensive!

Being the eternal optimist, I just know I'm going to find an all original French fashion, a mint French bébé or a rare automaton just around the corner. It does happen! Of course, it doesn't happen at the big well-known Marchés. You have to travel a little further prepared to put on your warm coat, comfortable walking shoes, hat and prepared to brave the massive Metro and RER system, and be prepared to get up at 4:30am to start your day! After a Metro ride, a transfer and an RER train for an hour or more, you'll reach your destination. Well, nearly! Usually antiques fairs are held in fairgrounds or squares that are a bit of a walk from the station. Oh yes, and be armed with bubble wrap and bags and lots of Euros in cash, just in case you do find something. And resist that morning cup of coffee before you depart, because the facilities are certain to be well hidden. Brush up on your French before you go. I mean learn the numbers from 1000 up - you'll need that much rudimentary French. Now remember, if you found the listing for the fair in an antiques magazine or on the Internet, so did every doll dealer in France. So, if you do get the merchandise before they do, you have only a short time to make a decision. That means you better know what you are looking at and how much you should be paying for it, because while you are debating with yourself (or your partner), a French speaking shopper is negotiating a price for the item knowing that the moment you put it down, they have a deal. Antiques hunting in Europe is not for sissies! The thrill of the hunt keeps me going back again and again.

This week I'm packing my bags, ready to go. Ah, springtime in Paris. I can't wait!