Antique-shopping: An exercise in nostalgia…

Once upon a time, in my *other life,* [the French one,] I loved to go antique hunting. 
During field trips to les marchés aux Puces (flea markets) in St. Ouen, Vanves, or Montreuil, or to local brocantes and vide-greniers (garage sale,) I spent hours browsing, rummaging through dusty boxes, scanning shelves for the unique object – reasonably priced – that I would take home that day. I did not have a big budget, nor did I have much room in my cramped Parisian digs with limited storage. No Louis XVI furniture, rare statue,  or expensive Asian rug ever made it home with me, but no matter, it was the thrill of the hunt I enjoyed. 
For Paris offers an endless variety of options for amateurs of antiques and miscellaneous vintage goods. From the high-end vendors at le Louvre des Antiquaires or le Carré Rive Gauche, on the Left Bank’s quai Voltaire, to less intimidating neighborhood brocantes and flea markets, anyone can – with a trained eye and enough patience – unearth treasures, valuable or not. 
Once in the United States, I have kept indulging in my old guilty pleasure: chiner (antique shopping.) I have been rewarded by a few trouvailles (finds,) even though most objects I have brought home would likely be discounted as couillandres (*) by my [very Southern] grandmother. 
There is a special place in my area I visit often. Welcome to historical Snohomish, WA. I have written about this charming local town in the past. Last Saturday, les Boys and I headed back and hit antique stores. 

The three chineurs (one of whom could not help shooting away as she made her way along First street,) had a wonderful time. It was *almost* like being back at les Puces, (the flea markets) in Paris, except you could tell you were in the United States. First, there were these guys: Harley Davidson riders LOVE Snohomish as much as I do. I had never noticed it before, but they can really accessorize: Everything is coordinated, from their cool rides, to their cool clothes with matching head gear, and their tattoos. 

Yes, Snohomish loves beautiful machines, and if you blink, you will wonder if you have just experienced a blast from the past. 

See what I mean?

Once you manage to pull yourself away from the great show happening in the street, antique shops/malls/dealers are waiting, often located inside refurbished historical buildings, old barns, and moldy basements. The selection can be overwhelming.

As I was browsing, I spotted the American versions of the French vintage goods I had once admired in Paris… For each Fantômette comic book, Bécassine doll, Pernod-Ricard adorned tableware, I saw nostalgic mementos of Americana.

It is a well-known fact the French love studying the past; savoring it; cherishing it. American society is said to always look towards the future. It is not that apparent in Snohomish, WA, and I dig that. In Snohomish, children can browse antique stores and, under their parents’ tutelage, learn about American heroes. Pourquoi pas

Buffalo Bill

“Frankly, French Girl, I don’t give a damn!”

I love discovering old objects, looking for clues, and wondering where they came from and who owned them once…

Fripes (vintage clothing)

I love being surprised as I turn a crowded corner, by mysterious finds… Qu’est-ce-que c’est, ce truc? (What on Earth…?!) immediately followed by: Quelle horreur

Too scary, even on Halloween night!

Pressure cooker? Artisanal bomb? Canning device?

Cool centerpiece for the average geek’s dining room table

“Tell me,  ma chère,  do you know the way to Versailles?”

It does not hurt that Snohomish, WA. offers a plethora of attractive dining options. A sign of the times: Many eateries specialize in organic, locally grown ingredients. A favorite is la boulangerie. It feels so good to sit down and rest for a while (window tables are the best!) before moving on to the next section of shops…

But if vintage-style food is what you crave, Snohomish has that too…

Apparently, antique shopping makes one very thirsty!

When, enfin, it is time to go home, you will leave feeling good, and comforted by the sightings of so many old friends…

A bientôt.

A heartfelt “Merci” to all the friendly shop keepers and antique dealers of Snohomish, WA.

All photos by French Girl in Seattle

Please do not use without permission.

(*) couillandres: Junk. Worthless objects with sentimental value.

Use this word with caution, or suffer the consequences!

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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)


  • Veronique, you have me dreaming about my times in Paris at all those wonderful markets. I dare say it’s one of my favorite pass times! And I’ve been to Snohomish too. Years ago when my husband would have business trips to Seattle, I’d tag along. While he was working, I’d explore the area for antique shops. 😉
    Thanks for taking me along tonight……..Sarah

    • Hello Sarah. How cool is that? You live in Texas and you have visited cute Snohomish, WA? The town has changed a bit since we moved here. Old-fashioned antique shops have had to share top billing with new, fancier, shabby-chic boutiques, but I love them all.

  • Bon, moi j’ai vu plein de trucs qui feraient bien mon bonheur sur tes photos!
    Est-ce que les prix sont élévés ou pas? Il y a moyen de faire de bonnes affaires selon toi? et as-tu trouvé quelques trésors à ramener?..Une ballade bien agreable en tous cas!La voiture de ta première photo est… bien tentante!!
    Bonne semaine!
    “couillandre”?Dans la Nièvre, on disait “abeurtas”(orthographe non garantie..Ü)

    • Apres avoir visite quelques boutiques de souvenirs a Nice avec toi, je suis certaine que tu trouverais pas mal de choses interessantes dans les magasins de Snohomish, Marie. 🙂 Les prix sont assez eleves, surtout sur les beaux meubles et “vraies” antiquites, mais je crois qu’il est toujours possible de marchander. Si tu viens dans le coin, je sais ce que nous ferons ensemble 🙂

  • Blog hopping early this morning and found your delightful read. Loved shopping with you as I have a love for the old too. Love the photo of that cat! Would I love to have him for Halloween!!!! Following now and look forward to reading more. Have a wonderful day. ~ Lynn @thevintagnest

    • Welcome Lynn. I knew that cat would find a few takers. I find his face a tad upsetting, don’t you, but I guess that is the point on Halloween night 🙂 Thank you for following my blog. I will visit yours this morning. Come back soon!

  • Oh, you found my old Peanuts lunch box! I bet the thermos lid is still screwed down super-tight by my mom. That $3 hot dog and drink sounds like a good deal to me.

    Hee hee, you taught me a bad word–your grandmother would be so proud.

  • we (my brothers and sister) grew up with an extreme appreciation/love for things of yester year, right down to our 67 mustang that we all learned to drive in and still own,well my younger brother does-how that came to pass is still a mystery- living in a city like philadelphia,old stuff is all around -even in the neighborhoods that sprung up away from the city center- i still frequent 2nd hand stores thrift shops and antique stores-flea markets are a rare stop for me – it really is just a timing thing-i love old things and this post as USUAL was a wonderful share of your resources for vintage- that truly looks like some superior vintage shopping-your pics are BEAUTIFUL!have a nice week -until we talk again…….

    • Welcome back, g, my dear friend from Philadelphia. You do live in a beautiful city. Even though I have only visited once, I remember loving the old part of town and all the history there (but that is true of several cities on the East Coast.) I miss the East Coast, in fact. Different vibes, different lifestyle, here on the West Coast. Mmmm… Maybe a trip is in order in 2013. I will start working on that soon. PS: Junior would love to see that 67 Mustang!

    • Bonjour Jeanne. No, you are right, it is not quite les Puces de Vanves, but that is all right. To each country its own vintage goods, culture and history. I do love that little town. It has what so many “towns” lack in American suburbia in my humble opinion, a soul and a real personality. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  • Veronique, I was thinking of you yesterday when a friend of mine and I made a trip to Pacific Galleries in SODO. Have you been? You can find treasure there, but there’s equal amounts of kitsch and creepy. Which I guess is part of the fun! But I’ll stick to my $12 blue and white porcelain bowl and leave the doll heads (totally creepy!) behind. XO

  • Fascinating to see all these bits and bobs, American versions of French vintage goods and I’m also comparing to English vintage too. Like you, I always try to imagine the original owners, where and how they lived. I love to see suitcases on the back of vintage cars as in the first photo.

  • HA, reminded me of the “Grand Brocante” that Mary drug me to in the 20eme once. We got all the way there and it was street after street of some real junk. I told Mary that French junk looked exactly like American junk. Our favorite item was a bowl of used lipsticks! Yikes.

    Loved your photos especially the portrait of the man on the cell phone. Beautiful light!

  • Wow I loooove antique shopping and this little place looks like heaven for it! What adorable finds! Some day, I will visit Seattle and we will go shopping there. Sound like a plan? 🙂

  • … and I guess you went back home with nothing new (rather old). But, as you say, the pleasure is often just to walk around, look… and “you never know”!

  • Ah Veronique, you are a girl after my own heart..j’adore fossicking around antique markets and vintage shops, I found a wonderful vintage dress last weekend, so nice! but I have to say I have never come across anything quite so bizarre as the 1950’s Electronic shock therapy machine, what the!! and in pink as well haha! Loved the B&W’s, it really is such a fab medium for street shots as you say. Wonderful post and I’m already looking forward to your next adventures.

  • I enjoyed your tour of antiques in Snohomish – I would like to go there too. My grandfather (paternal) was an antique dealer (real antiques) and my father used to love to go to the auctions aux Ventes aux enchères Drouot in Paris – he brought back some beautiful pieces. In Atlanta there is a monthly huge antique and flea market where I have found some great buys- I always look for vintage postcards. I used to buy bone china tea cups but now I have so many that I should sell them instead of buying more. It’s fun to look though.

    • Merci de ta visite, Vagabonde. Love those vintage postcards, or old photos, too. Easier to store than bulkier items, right? I have never been to les encheres Drouot but I am certain none of the items pictured here would have made it into the venerable Parisian auction house 🙂

  • Harley Davidson folks are the best.
    This July when in Paris I made it to Port de Vanves because at the local Antique market in Toronto I’ve met very interesting vendors from Montreal who frequent this marche and bring some hunting trophies. Obviously they know better as I didn’t find anything remotely as interesting. Alas..

    • Hello Natalie! Your Toronto vendors know their antiques indeed: Professional dealers visit les Puces Porte de Vanves more often than the other Parisian markets. They arrive early in the morning before tourists and the general public show up– or so I have heard. By the time I usually got there (it’s a bit out of the way as you know,) the selection was often “hit and miss.” 🙂

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