Everything You Don’t Need And Can’t Live Without

In English, terms like into attic sales, flea markets, secondhand, garage sales, car boot sales, all mean cheap prices on used stuff.  In French, terms like brasserie, vides greniers, marche aux puces, brocantes, all mean about the same thing.

In 1754, Carouge, just beyond Geneva’s city limits, was granted to Victor Amideus, King of Sardinia.  It became a refuge for Catholics, less puritanical Protestants, and even Jews.  Its streets are laid on a grid pattern with lots of trees and planters.  The city has low Mediterranean style buildings and interior courtyard gardens.  We like to go for a stroll there and aren’t the only ones.  It’s become a trendy ‘hood.

Some people have a problem with buying or using people’s old stuff.  I have no such compunction and am a sucker for these sales.   This one didn’t have much furniture (which is fine because I don’t have much extra space), but had a lot of everything else including Mexican food (which is a rarity here).   It was great, but perhaps the least spicy Mexican food ever.  The Swiss don’t eat spicy food and so most foreign food is toned down for the Swiss market.   We didn’t care.  I have a supply of assorted hot sauces at the apartment.  If you come visit us, please bring more.

We don’t have children, but I wanted to buy some of the toys anyway.  When I was young I had one of the Fisher-Price castles like the one below and loved it.  It was hard to pass this puppy up.

I think these sales are great places to pick up unusual souvenirs.  We’ve had visitors pick up paintings, books, beer steins, cool glasses, tastevins, vintage t-shirts, Swiss army knives and other cool Swiss army gear at the flea market.

I got a couple of Swiss army knives, a couple of old champagne buckets (to use as planters on my balcony), a leather purse big enough to hold my giant camera (super cute for summer), and a Sherlock Holmes book (in French).    While I didn’t need any of it, apparently I could live without it.

I love these sales because you never know what you will see.  They are like a mini cultural time capsule.  Although you might be able to find an old wheel in the US, you probably won’t find some old spraying equipment or watch parts.

171 thoughts on “Everything You Don’t Need And Can’t Live Without

  1. I’m almost sure my elementary school had that exact same castle. Wow, I haven’t thought about THAT in fifteen years… It would be so strange to stumble across it on the other side of the world–and hard to pass up buying!

  2. How fun and I totally bought my husband the weebles tree house he was always telling our boys about. They were all so excited for a 35 year old toy off of Ebay! Love the pics! Congrats on being pressed!

  3. I love flea markets, thrift stores, and garage sales! I don’t see anything wrong with buying used things that still have plenty of life left in them. Half the stuff I don’t need but can’t resist.

  4. I love that shot of those little plastic toys! They remind me of picking up My Little Ponies and plastic dinosaurs at neighborhood garage sales when I was a kid. The bobcat is especially cute.

  5. I am a sucker for flea-market toys. I started collecting them before I had kids. The castle is part of the collection, and sometimes I let the kids play with it. Sometimes.

  6. Nice photos. I was wondering, how long have you had this blog? I noticed 55 bloggers liked this post of yours. I have two blogs on wordpress; had ’em less than two months now, but I rarely get more than 10 visitors a day, and have less followers than that. The most visits I had in one day is when I posted something about same sex unions. So, I was wondering–how can I get 55 bloggers to visit and like my posts? What am I doing wrong, or must I just wait a year or so? Again, nice photos. I am a retired professional photographer and print journalist.

    • Honestly, I have no idea. Sorry. I know that isn’t very helpful. There are experts who give all sorts of advice on how to get visitors, but I’m not one. I’ve had this blog for about a year. I started it and write it for our friends and families to share our experiences. Thank you for your kind words.

      • Hi

        Forgive me for breaking in here. I am not very computer savvy. Let’s just say that I’m a dunce.

        However, I absolutely love Suisse. My husband and I lived in the canton Vaud for a number of wonderful years. We were somewhat up in the Alps, and only visited Geneva occasionally. I think we were in Geneva on the 500th year celebration of Calvin.

        That was a while ago. Look, I’m 60 years old, and I don’t suppose I’ll be getting any younger. It doesn’t seem to work that way, oddly enough.
        We’re hoping to get to Switzerland this summer to enjoy the Alps, the cow bells, the alpenhorns, and fondue on Lac Leman.

        My oldest daughter was born in Vevy, under Swiss rules. She is seriously orderly. my other three children are seriously not. They were born in Miami under no comprehensible rules whatsoever.
        That’s just how Miami “works”. They speak Spanish out of necessity.

        Currently, my French is mixed up with Spanish and some very rusty Latin. It doesn’t really work, actually. Don’t expect any sensible French out of me.

        Avoir, merci , maybe.


        something is going terribly wrong with my computer. It’s all me, of course
        Deborah Wallis Binnie

    • don’t worry about the num of visitors to your blog,that do not mean u do something wrong . Love what u write and u will enjoy blogging.With the time people will knew your blog.

      Comment on others blog by that people will knew yours.

      • I’ve been at it a very short time, and commenting is the way to go. It takes time to comment, and thoughtfully. So, the whole process will take time. I just kept buggin’ people to read…
        Fun post and congratulations. Love a flea market! It’s a world of wonderful junque!

  7. Love love LOVE Switzerland…we have family in La Tour De Peilz, not too far from where you visited. Your blog made me want to go back. Great job and congratulations on being FP’d.

  8. That was a fun read, wish we had more flea market/ brasserie type things here in Las Vegas, i guess its just too hot. I think i may live in your direct opposite. I cant find mexican food that is mild enough.

    Congrats of fresh press.

  9. Amazing photos and stories! You are so very lucky to live there! I went there for 6 weeks and simply LOVE Switzerland! Just returned and am currently writing posts about my 6 weeks in Switzerland! 40+ cities … so in case you haven’t been to that many cities in Swiss yet, I hope my posts can bring some inspired travels! 🙂 I’m a follower for sure!

  10. Ditto on the flea markets! I love rummaging through other people’s “pre-loved” items — must have something to do with me being used to hand-me-downs as the youngest child. :p The thrill is spotting something that’s worth more than what they’re selling it for!

  11. I LOVE those burl-wood bottle openers! Great post and pictures – another place I have to visit 😀

  12. Pingback: Voce sabe o que e Car Boot Sale? e Feira de Quinquilharias? « Josivaldo's Blog

  13. i love to go to flea markets and garage sales. i love to collect old stuff and once i found this really old lunchbox with a thermos. three hundred bux! or something like that, i walked away with out a cool snoopy lunch box

  14. I don’t think I need IRS (Income Tax Dept), but again can’t live without it too!
    We have a ton of junk accumulated over the years & every summer we think os putting a yard sale to get rid of some. Hopefully this year.
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  15. First of all, congrats on Freshly Pressed!
    I also love to buy things from yard sales, secondhand stores, etc. The things you buy have a story behind them as well as in front of them and there are some true rarities to be found. I have a weakness for jackets and knives.

  16. When I was living in Italy, I loved finding little flea markets and roadside junk stands like this. One of them we found ourselves at had a good mix of cute Russian dolls and Nazi memorabilia.

    Lovely pictures!

  17. Glad that freshly pressed brought your blog to my attention. My wife and I lived in various parts of the Lake Geneva region many years ago, and our hearts will always call it home. I look forward to seeing more of your experiences, as we dream about going back someday!

  18. In every city I visit outside the U.S., I find something like this. I don’t always find stuff I can afford, but stories always bloom from such things.

    I’d like to visit Switzerland. I’ve met wonderful Swiss people on my travels and have heard so much from my parents from when they were missionaries there. Where would I start if I wanted to visit?


    • I am a huge fan of Rick Steves. If you only purchase one guidebook, buy Rick Steves’ Switzerland. It has a great itinerary. We are on a mission to see everything in it. He makes fun of me because I refuse to travel with fewer than two. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides also make good guidebooks that are filled with practical information for planning a trip. The only warning I would give you is save your money. It’s expensive. That being said, my favorite things about Switzerland are free. I love the people, the lakes, the mountains, the hiking trails that criss cross the country and its amazing beauty. If you have specific questions, please ask, it may develop into a post. Happy travels.

  19. when I travell abroad first thing I look for is little flea markets and roadside junk stands.I like to buy memories from there.

    Thank u for sharing your interests with us.

  20. Yes, shopping at such places as you display is the only kind of shopping I enjoy. I dislike shopping for anything I need. But I love shopping for everything I don’t need. An appropriate title for your post–looks like a wonderful bazaar!

  21. I live in the Southern US and when go garage-saling, or stop at an old Antique Store, my best friend terms it “plundering”. The active verb is to plunder. I love to plunder! Have fun with your finds. That champagne bucket-turned-planter sounds delightful.

  22. I enjoyed reading your post today. I lived for two years as an ex-pat in Zurich when I was newly married, 10 years ago. I am so thankful for the experience because I have recently moved to Miami which sort-of feels like a foreign country! 🙂 I am blogging a bit about my experiences too. It is nice to visit you and see what a fellow explorer is up to!

  23. Oh, wow. I had that Fisher Price castle when I was a kid. When I saw that photo, I stopped reading and just stared. Nostalgia’s a hell of a drug.

  24. I had the Fisher Price castle, too! They are big collectors items now. That one looks to be in fantastic shape, too. I never could have passed it up! I loved wandering in the old Saturday flea markets when I lived a summer in Germany. I always found some little thing that “called” to me. Later I usually wondered why I bought it! Ah well. Loved your post and the photos. Congrats on being Fresh Pressed! 🙂

    • I’m regretting not buying it. We don’t have tons of space. I am having not buyers remorse. Thanks for reading the blog. Where in Germany were you? Any advice on places to go? We’re traveling there and so there should be some posts on the Rhine Valley coming up.

      • I was in North-Western Germany, (North-Rhine Westfalia). I flew into Dusseldorf from Heathrow, and then did my touring and singing mainly in little towns and villages all throughout the Münsterland region (I was doing a musical/Opera outreach). My home base was the lovely guest quarters at “Die Kolping-Bildungsstätte” – part of the “Kolping-Akademie Münster” (very clean, comfortable and reasonable. All rooms with private baths available – they cater to conventions and meetings so you will need to check to see if they have availability). It is located in the delightful village of Coesfeld. I spent much of my days off exploring nearby Münster – capitol city of the region – which is rich in history and absolutely beautiful with bike paths along the river. There are several nice museums (Art, Historical and Holocaust – their holocaust museum was particularly moving), good shopping, excellent dining. The crown jewel in Münster is their Cathedral which dates from the middle ages, and managed to escape damage during the WWII bombings. [A very old woman I met in the street one day shared her story about the day she watched American troops parachuting down into the square in front of the Cathedral “like giant white snowflakes”. One of the parachutes caught on a spire of the cathedral and the man dangled for several hrs before he could be rescued]. I did not have time to see more of Germany – it was an intensive summer of performing and I had very young children at home I was eager to return to – but, fell in love with all of the area I got to see. I would definitely recommend the Münsterland if you will be in that area. I’ve always hoped to return to Germany someday. Every region is so unique, and the people I met are warm and friendly and eager to share their stories. I’m sure you will have a wonderful time! Be sure to post photos and blog your journey (of course). 🙂

      • Dear soprano
        how on earth did you manage to live out of a suitcase in Europe? i could not possibly have done so. Cngratualtions on having accompished that and living to tell the tale and actually enjoying it. did you? I’m supposed to be a light to medium lyric soprano who once sang with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. My voice is buried with a buried with a host of others in some carzy Russian stuff with leonard Slatkin. Do not try “golova” which is “head” in Russian. you can’t sing and do “golova” at the same time. the choral director said so, and he was absolutely right.

        Good for you. Hats off. Good for you. I could not have done it. Period. I didn’t have the talent, probably anyway. I love music all the same. Love that music. I think I love Brahms lieder the best. Defintely the German Requiem. How about you?

        Debbie Binnie

      • Debbie – I enjoyed every minute! (other than major homesickness for my babies from time to time) I arrived with one suitcase and survived very well for the summer. However, I admit I had to purchase another large suitcase for my return home due to all of my shopping! 😉 (thankfully, this was before airlines started charging ridiculous fees for extra baggage). I agree singing Russian is often an extreme sport! I adore Brahms Lied (and all Lieder). Love the Requiem(s). Music is the greatest universal language and essential food for the soul. Stay nourished. Keep singing!

  25. I lived just outside of Zurich for 18 months and absolutely loved it (except for the bland Mexican food). If I’m able to come back in the near future, I will definitely bring you some salsa.

  26. great post…i wish I can travel to Switzerland…you know most times, we just can’t travel to some places due to certain factors we are still trying to over-come. I love your blog and post, keep it up and congratulations. please, anyone who cares can check out my blog at:

  27. Generally, I comment at the end of a post, if I comment at all. In this case, I believe there’s an opportunity to “reply” to anyone, and I took that opportunity, as no one had responded to his question at that point. I’m sure it got lost in the shuffle. I hope I haven’t offended by using your post as a means to offer a suggestion to another blogger…He did ask, so I like to help, even in my very limited way. Have a wonderful day, and proceed! 😀

  28. This post reminds me of one of my favorite sayings, “One mans trash is another mans treasure.”. I love garage sales, auctions in which you can buy boxes of stuff for a couple bucks, (incidently that’s where a lot of my book collection comes from!), flea markets, craft fairs, etc. It would be so interesting to do that in another country! I hope I get to travel some day so that I can try it out, sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing your pictures, I would’ve had a hard time turning down that castle too!
    God Bless,

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  31. Pingback: Merci Beaucoup Freshly Pressed! | schwingeninswitzerland

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