I talked about the art of the haggle at French garage/car boot sales (called a vide grenier ) in the past. Haggling doesn’t come naturally to me, but last weekend at the St Jean de Sixt vide grenier, I found myself haggling with the big guns.
Pictured is a ski binding. A ski technician friend spotted a pair of skis with these bindings on them, and said that the bindings alone were worth more than the €30 price tag on the skis. Since I needed a pair of bindings for some new skis, he suggested they’d be a cheap alternative to brand new bindings since the technology hasn’t changed much in recent years. I could trash the skis at that price. While we were standing there, a man asked the seller if he would reduce the price of a neighbouring pair of skis. The French seller said no and the man turned to walk away. The seller changed his mind and asked for €25. The man offered €20 and after scoffing from both parties, the seller accepted, mumbling about it under his breath in French.
I figured I could also get this pair for €20, so I picked them up. The seller, aware that my friend and I had seen everything, promptly wrote out a sticker for €50 and slapped it on the skis I was holding, mumbling some more. I protested and said I’d pay €20. He was a big man – both in height and girth, and had a scary look on his weathered face. He snatched the skis from my and slammed them back against the wall they had been leaning on, saying I could have them for €30 and no less. Had I been by myself, I would have been so afraid of this scary man towering over me that I would have scampered away. Instead, I scoffed like a French man and said no because he had just sold the previous pair for €20. He scoffed back, so I scoffed some more, shrugged and turned to walk away. He picked the skis up and thrust them towards me, agreeing on €20. I said thanks and he didn’t reply. I handed him a twenty and he sarcastically said I may as well have it back since the skis were practically free, then ignored my friend who bothered to say goodbye. I didn’t even try. Upon closer inspection of the skis, they’re in almost new condition, with great edges, bases and top sheets. Bargain!
So, one angry French man later, I have a working pair of bindings and a decent pair of skis too. It was worth almost weeing myself after all.