‘Tis the Season to be Merry

No, there isn’t a breach in the time-space continuum, the season in question is the start of the vide-greniers – aka car boot/yard sales and I have to admit I am a v-g junkie.

When I moved to France  I rapidly discovered that every week from about now onwards, the v-g’s start. They vary widely and I prefer the small village affairs where there is anything and everything on offer – from great-granny’s frilly bloomers to rusty scrapers for getting the hairs off a pig’s skin – once it had been swiftly dispatched first of course and a load of other ancient artefacts whose purpose escapes me completely.

Oh, the rustling, rifling, poking and picking over in boxes of…well, stuff…only to stand up, victorious holding just the thing you were looking for. The cut and thrust of complex negotiations to get the price down by 50 centimes; the waving of arms, pulling of faces ( you have no idea how many different faces a Frenchman can pull to express his disapproval and disappointment at your offer); I love it.

Among all the trash and gash there are goodies to be found for anyone like me trying to “dress” a room once it is renovated. The room in question this week is my Tart’s Bathroom (or to give it a more genteel title, Guest Bathroom). Granted there is tiling to be done, the bath to be installed – well to be honest it has yet to be totally renovated – but it’s never too early to start collecting bits and pieces together. This bathroom is to be a vision of black, white and silver, with a bit of saucy wallpaper to boot.

Saucy Wallpaper

Saucy Wallpaper

I’ve been seeking out bits and pieces for this room. This is my haul to date which includes a ceramic oil lamp for those lazy soaks, two silvered champagne buckets and a bath salts jar- a gal has so many bits and pieces to store, wrought iron hooks and a pair of opalescent glass wall lights for around the basin.

Goodies haul

Goodies haul

The V-gs are very sociable affairs and there is always time for a cup of thick black coffee, a natter with friends and neighbours (they aren’t always one and the same thing) and a reveal of each other’s ‘finds’.

The serious buyers, (dealers and brocante shop owners) as opposed to flibbertigibbets like me walk round purposefully, like hunting dogs on the scent. Eagle-eyed, elbows sharp and at the ready, their hands reach over your shoulder to whisk away the object you were about to pick up and mull over. You have to be quick to make up your mind; ‘after you’ has no place at a v-g.

Then, when you get your haul home, unpack it, try it out in its designated future place, that is the moment when you find that it is just perfect or perhaps, just perhaps, it’s not quite what you were looking for. Ah well, it can go back in a box for a while, it’ll come in handy some time.

Harvest Festivals

Autumn is in the air down here at Ste Colombe, signalled by chilly early mornings and plumes of wood-smoke drifting upwards into a blue sky as my neighbours fire up their stoves. Yet before long, the sun is up, breaching the shadows in the courtyard of my house and the über-snails retreat to the coolness of crevices in the stone walls whilst the lizards come out to play hide and seek between the gnarly wisteria branches.

Although the summer frolics of festivities and fêtes are over and the grape harvest is underway it is now time to pay homage to humble fruit and vegetables and so we have celebrations of the virtues of onions, garlic, apples, sweet chestnuts and even the lowly spud. At these fêtes you can wonder at the sheer variety, sample the goodies and buy, buy, buy ‘til your purse drains dry.

garlic 1veggies1
Yesterday was the fête de chataigne (the sweet chestnut fair) together with a vide-grenier (car boot sale),fairground stalls and the obligatory oomph-pa band. The vide-grenier was a large one and clearly sellers had enthusiastically ransacked every cupboard, cellar, attic and barn . Clothes, toys, books and CDs, old tools, kitchenware, granny’s favourite coffee set, painstakingly embroidered bed-linen – if you could name it, you would find it. So it was that an old wooden vinegar barrel, two sets of wall lights, a pressed glass lampshade and a ceramic cafetière found themselves in the back of big bro’s van and on their way to Petite Rue.

Later in the day, in sweltering heat, the sweet chestnuts were roasting and a tray-full of artisan bread baked over an open fire filling the air with a mouth-watering savoury aroma. However it was the sweet stall that attracted my attention. Goodies of all shapes and sizes, in the most garish array of colours and oozing with sugar – were they as wild in taste as they were in appearance? Was it enough to tempt this gal to abandon her quest to discover her lost waistline? Did she fall by the wayside and give in? Well that’d be telling.