LDV Travels: The Best Antiques Shopping Trip in Paris

Around this time last week, I was fresh off of my first antiques buying trip in Paris. Nine days and two new trips later (Birmingham and High Point), I can’t stop thinking about Paris and the wonderful time we had. The trip was one of several Ann Huff and Meg Harrington organize and lead each year. The trips usually consist of small groups– ours included eight shoppers and three women from the Huff Harrington team in order to keep things manageable and create a wonderful sense of camaraderie between all of the women in the group. Our group consisted of interior designers and shop owners, predominantly from the Southeast, as well as a fellow Houstonian who was searching for a good number of special pieces for the house she is building. We all really got into the spirit of things and genuinely enjoyed one another’s company.

I have been raving about the trip to anyone who will listen since I returned because it was an extraordinary experience that had a profound effect on me. For starters, I am the one who usually plans everything in my life, so the prospect of just showing up and having the full itinerary planned and every last detail taken care of was a rare and thoroughly enjoyed luxury. The attention to detail on behalf of Ann, Meg, and their helper Catherine was unbelievable. In addition to scouting all of the antiques markets and fairs we visited prior to our arrival, they acted on our behalf to translate, negotiate, and educate us on our purchases, ensuring that missteps were not made. On top of that, they handle all of the logistics of getting our fabulous finds back stateside. The only decisions I made on this trip were how much I was willing to pay for the items I fell in love with and what to eat at each meal. Everything else was handled for us beautifully.

Upon our arrival in Paris, we all met for coffee, and were then taken to our beautiful apartments in the stylish 7th arrondissement on Paris’ Left Bank. I shared a lovely apartment with two other women, Anne Wagoner, a wonderfully talented interior designer from Raleigh and the lovely Lacresa Allen who owns a shop called The Roost Home in Bluffton, South Carolina. The first day was low key as we were all quite jet-lagged, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a chic, little brasserie in the neighborhood, got settled and unpacked at home, and then went to dinner at the wonderful Fontaine de Mars which was outstanding. These would be the first of countless amazing meals, each one better than the last, and each featuring  three courses and plenty of bubbles and wine!

The following day, we hit the ground running and took the train to the outskirts of Paris where we would spend the day at Chatou, a bi-annual antiques fair similar to Round Top or Brimfield, but better in that it is more condensed and it is Paris after all! 

We all scored some fabulous finds on the first day. I am bringing this sweet Napoleon chair from the late 1800s home. It was the first piece I scored that day.

I also brought home these beautiful gilded brackets, also from the 1800s, which will be fabulous with some pretty vases, mixed with some great art.

This chest is one of my favorite finds from the trip. It is 19th Century Napoleon with beautiful, inlaid drawer fronts, incredible dovetail construction, and a stunning black marble top. It was so fun running around, finding things, then texting Ann and Meg to come help negotiate and write the orders. Their expertise in verifying the quality and provenance of the pieces I bought was absolutely invaluable. At the end of each day shopping, we would all meet up, pop a bottle of champagne, and toast to our buys that day.

We visited the famed Marche aux Puces, or Paris Flea Market a couple of times on this trip. Everyone found some wonderful and interesting things and it was so fun to see the lovely stalls and buildings draped in lush vines.

One of the best parts of shopping at the flea market with Ann and Meg is that they took us to vendors off the beaten path as well as to the dealers only section of the market that is not open to the public.

The items at the market run the gamut from very fine, significant antiques like the ones pictured here to bric a brac and smalls in other parts of the market. There is truly something for everyone.

I spotted these super chic, black and white abstract paintings from the 1960s by a well known French artist by the name of Jacques Nestle and posted them to my Instagram story. I thought about them all day, but didn’t immediately pull the trigger. I ended up going back to get them because I couldn’t get them out of my mind and a client spotted them on my Instagram and wanted them for her house. I plan on making these trips to France more frequently in order to source unique things for my clients because the first trip was a big success.

This is a stunning Louis Philippe chest with a beautiful gray marble top that I am kicking myself for not buying. The vendor agreed to sell it for a song, but I chickened out because I don’t have a spot for it in my house and didn’t want to pay to store it indefinitely. I wish I could go back in time!

{Chic French Rattan Pieces at the Marche aux Puces}

When Fabian and I were in Paris this summer, we bought two handmade Plaster sunburst mirrors from this artist. These pieces are so special and are truly works of art. I’ve fallen in love with them, so I bought a group of them that will likely go into a client project in the future.

Ann and Meg took us to their mirror guy who had the most amazing selection of antique French mirrors. It was funny, but over the course of the trip, we started to notice what we all gravitated to. I loved mirrors, while my friend Anne was pulled towards small paintings at every turn. Part of the fun of shopping with a group like this is that we kept an eye out for each other and often found pieces for the other women in the group.

Back in Paris, we visited some street markets and local antiques shops. We also spent some time in the design district in the St. Germain de Pres neighborhood. The Italian chandelier is also coming home to Houston– not with me, but with the other Houstonian on the trip who saw it and immediately fell in love with it.

One of the nice things about this trip was how balanced it felt. We had plenty of planned activities and time to shop for antiques, but we were also given a few afternoons and evenings to do our own thing, which was nice so that we could explore the city on our own. One afternoon, my friend Anne and I visited the incredible Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. It was breathtaking and one of the most extraordinary things I have ever experienced. I am planning to do a separate blog post on it, so stay tuned!

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with new friends and showing them some of my favorite places in Paris, such as the Ritz, where we enjoyed a nightcap and conversation after going to my favorite Italian restaurant in Paris.

Everywhere you look in Paris, inspiration beckons. Our nightly walks to group dinners left us marveling at the beautiful architecture in our lovely neighborhood.

{It felt like a dream to walk home from dinner and see the Eiffel Tower in all its majesty.}

This trip had a huge impact on me. I enjoyed each moment and came home feeling completely inspired and energized. I learned so much more about French antiques than I knew before and have literally dreamt about shopping for antiques in Paris since the first night of the trip! For the last two weeks, I have had these recurring trips, which happens to me when I tap into something I am passionate about and become obsessed with. I am already thinking about taking another shopping trip to France with Huff Harrington, but am currently deciding between going back to hunt for antiques in Paris or going to Provence to enjoy a leisurely week in the French countryside in the late spring instead. If you have been wanting to go on a shopping trip to France, I cannot recommend going with Huff Harrington highly enough. It was honestly one of the best trips I have ever taken and I can’t wait to do it again. For more information on their upcoming trips, click here for the 2018 schedule.

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  1. Just wanted to let you know that Terry Botero at the T. Botero Gallery in Market Square at High Point carries a lot of Jacques Nestle’s artwork. Hope that helps in sourcing before your next trip to Paris. She has many other fabulous art pieces from European and American artists as well. Loved your post!

  2. Always love your posts and especially this one now that I am living in Paris part-time. I fell in love with the white plaster mirrors Can you share your artist source?

  3. Delightfully informative article. Have you ever checked into THE ANTIQUES DIVA–does buyer, amateur / professional, individual /group tours into antiques in Paris, knows the “right” places & sellers, etc. Also in other countries.