Adding French flair to your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it can be an absolute bargain. Take a look at these five inexpensive beauties!

I often joke that I may live in the Netherlands, but that inside, my home is unquestionably French. It starts at the front door with the wooden, heart-shaped sign that reads ‘bienvenue’ and the one by the window that doesn’t say ‘beware of dog’ (as if!), but rather ‘attention au chien’! Inside, you will immediately notice the framed antique map of France, one of the first things I purchased when we moved into this house. It proudly hangs in the front hall. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

I have always been a fan of French antiques and vintage, whether it be accessories, books, clothing or things for the home. Perhaps I should say — especially things for the home. Every vacation in France sees me on a mad hunt for pre-loved items such as dishes, coffee bowls (I love those!), silver, jugs or vases, and baking pans. Even before we set foot in the country, I make sure to look up dates of upcoming vide-greniers and antique/brocante markets. Vide-greniers are usually the place to find real bargains. Last summer, for example, I purchased four gorgeous plates with a charming flower motif for only two euros from a friendly lady at a market not far from Duras. Antique markets and shops, however, are slightly pricier. At an antique market in Beaune a few years ago, I found a stunning set of silver teaspoons for only twenty-five euros. Second-hand shops are also worth looking out for, especially if you want to purchase furniture. If I actually lived in France, I am pretty sure most of my furniture would come from these kind of shops! That, or I would buy an old, abandoned château and restore all the furniture — what a dream!

Luckily, adding French vintage to your home can be very affordable, if not more affordable than purchasing new items. But, this mostly holds true if you can source the items in France. Unless you get lucky and find them at second-hand shops near you — which is very well possible, especially if you live in Europe. The five items shown in the photo above are some of my favorite bargains. The blue Pastis water jug was purchased at a vide-grenier in Orange (Vaucluse), dates to the 1970s and cost me fifty cents; I’ve seen it online for as much as twenty euros! I use it to hold a collection of antique silver forks and spoons that date from the mid-1940s (they will appear in another post!). The coffee bowl (I am positively obsessed with French coffee bowls!) was a lucky find at an antique shop in the town of Buxy in Bourgogne. I paid five euros for it and love using it for coffee from my cafetière, a standard weekend indulgence with my tartine with jam and butter or croissant. The red tarte tatin pan was a freebie kindly given to me by the owner of a house we rented years ago in the Ardèche, after extensively ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ about it and all her other kitchen treasures. It is no longer suitable for cooking, but is a lovely place for fruits, especially apples and lemons! The cream colored plate with blue flower print was also purchased at the antique shop in Buxy. I bought it along with three other similarly shaped plates for sixteen euros. I love that the plates are more or less the same size, but still different — perfect for dinner parties! Finally, the small dessert plate was a find at a thrift shop in the Dutch city of Naarden. I love the delicate rose print and golden decor on the rim. And it only cost me thirty cents!

What especially attracts me to these items is their history. I often wonder who used them and why they were purchased in the first place. Were they wedding presents, for example? And in the case of a dish, who used it to cook and what did they make? Some items are quite old and were found in deserted houses or houses that were cleared before going on the market, but the actual origin of most of my French treasures remains a mystery to me, and that doesn’t make them any less special. Nothing is as charming as setting the table with a mix of weathered dishes and plates. Whenever I have people over for a dinner party, these items are always noticed and spark up the most interesting conversations. How can any new item ever compare?