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?
|"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 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!