My parents always told me never to throw things away just because I didn't need them there and then. This is where the "hoarding" instinct begins. This can apply to all humans and some animals. In most households, these things accumulate in garages and lofts. Then at a later date, with a mixture of memory and need, a search begins.
The French country tradition of "Vide Grenier" (loft emptying) opens to the curious, the contents of maybe 30 lofts of other households - of other families - other lives! If one looks on the internet site "vide grenier 33", this will list all the vide greniers and brocants (antique and/or second - hand furniture sales), in the Aquitaine. So locating your chosen vide grenier on a map, off you go, not neccessarily with anything certain in mind, but to look for something useful, interesting or intriguing.
Recently on one of my visits, I found a beautiful watercolour painting which goes perfectly on a certain wall at home. At the same sale, I found an ancient soda-siphon, now quite rare, for a neighbour who's been looking for one for some time. At another sale in Saint Vivien, I located and reserved 4 of the now famous collector "Solex" mopeds. A friend of mine is an enthusiast and will "caniblise" these to make at least 2 good ones.
At the vide greniers at Bordeaux, it's not unusual for people to arrive with a suitcase or cardboard box and let you rummage through it's contents - it's a bit like looking through someone else's past. It may take two or three visits to make a good find. It's a game of chance together with persistant curiosity that can make it profitable amusement and good human contact. Have fun!
Christian Desoutter (Grayan), translation: Barrie Baldwin