Twice a year, the ‘Foire aux Antiquités et à la Brocante’ takes place in Barjac in the Gard department. During four days around the 15th of August and the Easter weekend, the characteristic village transforms into a giant open-air antique and brocante fair. Over 400 exhibitors will display their treasures to visitors from far and wide.
The Foire aux Antiquités et à la Brocante has taken place since 1972. It was an idea of Jean Tassy, mayor of Barjac from 1971 until his death in 1984. He wanted to bring life back into Barjac after the closure of the coal mine in 1968. Being an antique dealer himself, he decided to create an association to unite antique and brocante dealers. The ‘Foire aux Antiquités et à la Brocante’ association was born, and organised its first antique and brocante fair in August 1972. With only about 40 stand holders, it was still a great success. Over the years, the fair became more renowned. And now, over 400 exhibitors from the whole of France and even outside participate twice a year. And tens of thousands of visitors of all nationalities, divided over four days, roam the stands to find their hidden gems.
Place Charles Guynet
This year, the Foire aux Antiquités et à la Brocante is in full swing after all the restrictions of past years. I wanted to go so badly, so I abandoned Chéri and the kids and booked myself a night away. No whining could prevent me from enjoying the fair to the max. The August edition lasts from Thursday 11 to Monday the 15th of August 2022. Therefore, I went to the area on Wednesday the 10th of August and stayed at the Bastide Cévenole in Rochegude (lovely place!). I had dinner in Barjac to check the village out beforehand. And I was very pleased to see loads of white vans (why are they always white?!) already occupying the Place Charles Guynet. Walking back to my car, I wondered if the sellers would leave their merchandise unattended all night… It seemed so.
The following day, I ensured I got up early and had breakfast to be in time for the fair’s opening at 09h00. Now, everybody knows that you score the best deals before the official opening hour of any flea market, vide greniers or brocante fair. Not in Barjac. To my surprise, the stands weren’t even set up when I arrived a bit before nine o’clock! The white vans still occupied the Place Charles Guynet, with people unpacking at ease. I decided to have a walk around Barjac to have a preview. But with all the hustle and bustle of the unloading going on, I preferred sitting on a terrace enjoying a cup of tea. About an hour later, I went back to the main square, and by this time everyone was ready for the fun to begin.
The Place Charles Guynet has the most exhibitors, but you will also find stands around Barjac’s castle and the Saint-Laurent church. Even the Capucins Chapel at the Place de Calade transformed into a big indoor stand. The atmosphere of the Foire aux Antiquités et à la Brocante was cheerful and relaxed. Although there were many people around, I could snoop around with ease. Some of the merchandise was way too expensive for me, while I found some simply overpriced. But I managed to bring back some unique finds for a reasonable price (after bargaining). And I’m already planning to go next Easter when there are fewer stands (under 400) but fewer visitors as well.