Free Weekend? Go bargain hunting in Montepellier’s flea markets

Peyrou flea market, Montpellier
Peyrou flea market, Montpellier

Mandy Pollard and her husband, Jake recently moved to the south of France. Jake spent part of his youth in Paris and, along with the rest of his family, is bilingual. Now that he and Mandy have two young daughters, they decided the best way to give them the gift of fluent French too, was by spending some years living on the other side of the Channel.

So they rented out their Tulse Hill home, and shacked up, sensibly, in one of the warmest parts of the country: Montpellier. While getting to know her new home, Mandy has begun blogging about all the brilliant things there are to do in the area. One of which, she has written about exclusively for Below the River…

Chairs at the Grand Bazar
Chairs at the Grand Bazar

There are quite a few things the French do well; food, wine, romance, perhaps not pop music (although a million Johnny Hallyday fans would probably disagree), but definitely flea markets. After all France is where it all began.

The first marché aux puces was held at Porte de Clignancourt in Paris and is still going strong today, and for many people a trip to France wouldn’t be complete without a rummage for vintage treasures. Of course, the Paris flea markets are the most famous of the lot, but if you really want to find a bargain it’s worth venturing out of the capital and taking a trip down south. Markets of all kinds are a south of France staple and flea markets are no exception.

Grand Bazar - stalls 2
Stalls at the Grand Bazar (see below)

A good place to base yourself is Montpellier.
It’s a three-hour train ride from Paris and is
slap bang in the centre of the southern coast. Montpellier is Languedoc-Roussillon’s capital city and there’s enough to see and do here that you don’t have to go far, but if you do want to venture further afield there’s easy access to the coast, the mountains and the rest of the south’s villages and towns. And the best thing is that there are two great flea markets right in the centre of Montpellier, and more not too
far away.

Here are some of the biggest and best in the area.


Mosson flea market
Okay so this one doesn’t quite fit the traditional image of a quaint French flea market, but don’t let that put you off. Appearances can be deceptive, and once you’ve passed the car park and the stalls selling car parts and old computer leads you’ll be rewarded with antiques and vintage items at bargain prices.

Mosson Market collageThe market has a multi-cultural feel, so look out for interesting North African and middle eastern items like these metal platters, above left.

Even the food vans selling merguez and mint tea are a surprise bonus.

Every Sunday morning from 6am to 1pm at Espace Mosson, Montpellier, right next to tram stop Mosson.

Peyrou - 3
Peyrou brocante and antiques market

Promenade du Peyrou brocante
and antiques market
You’ve got two vintage shopping choices on a Sunday morning in Montpellier and in terms of location this one’s the winner.

Brocante stalls are set up around the perimeter of an attractive park, perched at the edge of the historical centre. As long as you’re not distracted by the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, you should find some good quality antiques, paintings and vintage furniture.

Sunday mornings from 7.30am to 2pm at Promenade du Peyrou, Montpellier.


Brocante, Sommières
A drive east into the beautiful Languedoc countryside will take you to Sommières in around forty minutes. This pretty walled town on the banks of the river Vidourle holds a brocante every Saturday morning. There are around 50 or more stalls set up near the banks of the river with a vast selection of vintage goodies to choose from. It’s a perfect place to combine a day trip with treasure hunting.

Every Saturday morning on the Esplanade near the Camping and the Arènes, from 6:30am to 1.30pm.


Grand Bazar vintage lamp and tealights 3
Twice a year, in spring and autumn, the whole of Montpellier’s historical centre becomes a giant flea market. For two days shops put out trestle tables selling their wares at marked-down prices, and on the second day (a Saturday) locals lay out blankets and tables for a vide-grenier (literally ‘empty loft’, the French version of a car boot sale). It’s nice to wander round and take in the festival atmosphere and you’ll probably pick up some good bargains while you’re at it. Look out for chic interior shops selling gorgeous things at low, low prices. Last year I bought this lamp, top right, for €20 (£16) and these pretty tea-light holders, below, for just a €1 (80p) each.

Le Grand Bazar takes place over a Friday and a Saturday in April and October every year. The tourist office website will have details,

Beaux-Arts fanfare festival and vide-grenier
At the beginning of the summer Montpellier celebrates regional fanfare bands by hosting a festival and flea market. Stalls are laid out throughout the bohemian quarter of Beaux-Arts and fanfare groups make their way around the area, stopping intermittently to put on a show. The atmosphere is great and the mix of local and professional sellers makes for an almost overwhelming variety of goods to haggle over.

This year’s Festival des Fanfares is scheduled for 15 June and will take place in the Beaux-Arts and Boutonnet quarters. Check out the website for updates,


Foire de brocantes, Pézenas
The ancient town of Pézenas lies west of Montpellier and is worth the thirty-minute drive just to wander around its pretty cobbled streets. But you could combine it with some vintage-shopping by visiting on the first Sunday in May, or the second Sunday in October. This is when the town holds its bi-annual antiques fair, with 150 brocante stalls lining the main street.

If you can’t make these dates you can visit the town’s Rue de Verdun instead. It’s known as La Route des Antiquaires de Pézenas as there are 40 (yes 40!) antique and bric-a-brac warehouses dotted along the road.

The next foire takes place on 5 May 2013. Log on to to find out more.

If your trip doesn’t coincide with any of these dates, don’t fret as there’s always a vide grenier or brocante going on somewhere in the south of France. Look out for posters around town or large signs at the side of the road. Alternatively, check out, or for updated daily schedules.

Know your onions: Ten tips to bag a bargain
1. Bring cash and arrive early if you want the best buys. Just before closing time is also good if you want to haggle for a last minute sale.

2. When you enter a shop in France it’s polite to always say ‘Bonjour’ to the shopkeeper and this goes for stallholders too. A smile and a quick ‘Bonjour Monsieur/Madame’ will be really appreciated.

3. Don’t forget to hunt through the boxes, as you never know what you might find. I came across a beautiful 12-piece Japanese tea-set hiding in an old crate recently, complete with tea-pot, cups and saucers, milk jug, sugar bowl and two extra dishes. I got the whole lot for €15 (£12).

4. Vendors will expect you to haggle, but do it politely and with charm. Decide what you think something is worth and stick to your guns, but don’t offer an unreasonable price, you’ll only succeed in insulting the seller.

5. Do a bit of homework before your trip. Find out how to identify different types of wood and whether something is solid wood or veneered. However, don’t overlook veneered furniture. Most mid-century pieces are veneered and still good quality, but knowing the difference will help you to get it at the right price.

6. Look out for lighting. Flea markets are a great place to find unusual lamps and chandeliers. But make sure you check the condition. If it needs rewiring, decide whether or not you really want to do it yourself. But if you are up for it, then you could find a real bargain.

7. Use your imagination and think of new ways to use the things on sale. An old trunk makes a great low table for example, and hessian coffee sacks can be made into quirky kitchen-cupboard curtains.

8. Often sellers like to get rid of a whole set of items. So offering a lower price for everything can work in your favour. If you see two chairs for €20 each, why not offer €30 for the pair?

9. If you’re still not happy with the price just say ‘Merci’ and walk away. Don’t pay more than you want to for anything and you never know, this might prompt a vendor to call you back with a more favourable price.

10. Some good things to look out for in the south of France include vintage linen, old maps, china and porcelain, coffee grinders and unusual tins.

GETTING THERE Easyjet flies directly to Montpellier from Gatwick and Luton airports. Or, from Paris, catch the TGV at Gare de Lyon. It’ll take you to Montpellier-Saint Roch in just over three hours.
WHERE TO STAY A five-minute walk from the Sunday brocante in Promenade du Peyrou is the gorgeous Place de la Canourgue where you can sit in tranquil surroundings and enjoy a drink or a meal. There are some very stylish design shops nearby and a choice of two small, yet charming hotels.
Hotel du Palais A pretty two-star hotel with comfortable rooms at reasonable prices. Doubles from €85 a night. 3 Rue du Palais des Guilhem, Montpellier; +33 4 67 60 47 38;
Hotel Le Guilhem An attractive and comfortable Best Western hotel located on a pretty, quiet road just off Place de la Canourgue. It has a lovely private terrace out the back. Rooms from €95 a night. 18 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montpellier; +33 4 67 52 90 90;

Mandy picWords and photos: Amanda Pollard, pictured right, who you can follow at her blog Montpellier and Moreabout things to do in this part of France.

1 thought on “Free Weekend? Go bargain hunting in Montepellier’s flea markets”

  1. Pézenas is fantastic, great stores on Avenue (not Rue) de Verdun. The market at Espace de Mosson in Montpellier is a total waste of time – I walked the entire thing and it was worse than the worst car boot sale I’ve ever seen – don’t bother! The historical district in Montpellier is really something worth seeing.

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1 thought on “Free Weekend? Go bargain hunting in Montepellier’s flea markets”

  1. Pézenas is fantastic, great stores on Avenue (not Rue) de Verdun. The market at Espace de Mosson in Montpellier is a total waste of time – I walked the entire thing and it was worse than the worst car boot sale I’ve ever seen – don’t bother! The historical district in Montpellier is really something worth seeing.

Leave a Comment

Specify Facebook App ID and Secret in the Super Socializer > Social Login section in the admin panel for Facebook Login to work