Thursday, May 5, 2016

A French Village Vide Greniers

French Village Vide Greniers France
Vide Greniers and Romanesque Church

I’ve totally lost track of the days as it feels like a weekend, but it’s only a Thursday. Today is Ascension Day and one of the many public holidays that fall in May this year (see here for more information), but not only are schools off today, we have a four day weekend thanks to the famous faire-le-pont, making a bridge between a public holiday on a Thursday and the weekend. This bridge day can sometimes seem greedy and rather a strange idea, but seems more than fair this year as Sunday 8th May is Victory in Europe Day, another public holiday, but falling on a Sunday means most people miss out on a day off work.

While Adrian is busy working in the UK, where neither today nor Sunday are public holidays and bridge days are unheard of, I set off with Pierrette, my French neighbour, to a Vide Greniers (car boot/yard sale) in a local village. The weather is glorious this week, as so often happens when Adrian returns to the UK for work and at 25 degrees, it was lovely and warm for those of us wandering around, but those sellers unlucky enough not have found a spot in the shade of a tree were wilting in the heat.

French Village Vide Greniers France
Vide Greniers
The roads around the Romanesque church in the centre of the village were closed to traffic and tables were set up to display pre-loved goods to sell. There were clothes, toys, bicycles, ancient electric gadgets that I would have been terrified of plugging in, books, kitchenware, homemade jams, home grown plants and seedlings, local walnut oil, eggs and even live chickens and rabbits sitting together in cages under the shade of a chestnut tree. The road through the village that was still open for traffic had cars parked nose to tail on both sides and people of all ages were milling around everywhere; walking, talking, browsing, buying and enjoying an afternoon in the sun.

Pierrette, who is in her seventies, saw something she recognised from her childhood, but had forgotten what it was for. It was wooden, a little like a bottle opener, but without the corkscrew. The friendly stallholder demonstrated that it was in fact a wooden punch for pushing a new cork into a bottle and she remembered her father using one. 

The stallholder, realising by now he had a captive audience; the old lady who remembers using some of these items and the younger one who hasn’t a clue, but is interested none the less, held up another object, also wooden, curved like the top of a walking stick but with a pointed metal cap on one end. I was stumped, but she knew immediately. It was for making a hole to plant out your seedlings in your potager. What I thought was wood, was actually a thick old tree root chosen specifically for its shape and strength. 

Then came the metal object that looked like a cross between a ladle and a small saucepan with a long handle, but on the inside where the handle joined the pan was a fine mesh of holes. This was used to scoop up a little water from the well and by gently tipping it, the water poured through the handle allowing you a small flow to wash your hands, so simple and yet so clever. We were also shown lovely cotton culottes, long to the knees, but with a gapping hole in the middle to allow easy access for the essential functions without having to get undressed. Pierrette remembers her Grandmother wearing them, but says her Mother wore far more modern cotton knickers.

We spent almost two hours wandering and talking, looking and discussing, but neither of us bought anything. There were plenty of bonjours and bisous (hellos and kisses) as we both found people we knew, although the biggest surprise for her was when a man sitting in the shade and eating a meal with his family called out her name. It took her a while to recognise him as someone who had worked with her husband many years ago, but bisous were exchanged, hands shaken and introductions to his grown up children made, before we continued our browsing. We stopped for a refreshing cold apple juice at the buvette (drinks tent) that was centrally placed by the church and we took a moment of cool and calm to look inside the open door at the simple interior of the village church.

I returned home to sit and cool down indoors, make a cup of tea and flick through the cookbook in my head and decide which cake to bake later. A movement outside the kitchen door caught my eye, it was Pierrette and she was off out on her bicycle for her regular afternoon promenade! I sometimes wish I had her energy.

This post has been linked to All About France with Lou Messugo.

Lou Messugo

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