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With a congenial companion in Henri Nicole, a French photographer and former antiques restorer who lives in Normandy, I visited the opening trade day of Foire de Chatou in Paris in early March.

Held over 10 days, it is a long haul for the 450 predominately French dealers, many of whom solely stand at this fair which is organised by SNCAO-GA (Syndicat National de l’Antiquité, de l’Ocasion et des Galeries d’Art Moderne et Contemporain).

The biannual event has its origins in the 19th century when the scrap metal and junk merchants of Paris started a fair alongside the historic Foire aux Jambons (Ham Fair). Today it lays claim to the title of France’s largest antiques fair and brocante.

It certainly attracts a crowd.

Post-fair news is that the event had a record attendance with over 32,000 people visiting the fair from March 10-19, a 6% increase compared to March 2016.

The organisers commented: “We saw a big increase in new customers. The attendance was younger and more Parisian than it used to be and there were significant numbers of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Russians and Lebanese visitors.”

Aided by photographs taken by Henri Nicole, here is a snapshot of the event, all interspersed with occasional stops for coffee and cake, of course, and a lunchtime cassoulet.

The first Foire de Chatou 2017 ran from March 10-19 with the second of the biannual fairs taking place from September 22-October 1.