Monday, 1 September 2014

Beaucoup de Bargains

French junk is trés chic, n'est pas?  And what with all the telly programmes of late showing us what and how to buy over there I was dying to see what I could score without spending too much dosh, whilst on my recent holiday.  I googled the local tourist office before leaving home to see if there were any flea markets in our area while we were there, but didn't have much luck with that.  However, upon arrival into the area I spied a Brocante, so one day when the weather wasn't all that, we headed off.  Major disappointment... it was so expensive!  I had my eye on a pastis bottle but the price at this establishment was  €19. What???  The shop owner, a miserable bastard saw my camera, put his palm in my face and said 'Non!'.  I still had the lens cap on!  Suffice to say we did not stop long.  Fortunately I'd also asked the local bar owner if there were any junky type Brocantes nearby and she recommended this place. 


After M'sieur Grumpy Bollocks Thierry was an absolute delight.  A very affable chap who, when asked if it was OK to take pictures, stretched his arms wide and replied 'bien sûr'.

Thierry's was a veritable Aladdin's cave with stuff in several outbuildings and canvas awnings.


If religious statuary is your thing, there's loads of it knocking about in France.

Here's what I bought.
 
two glasses, embroidered table runner, wooden peg rail, religious statue- €10 the lot.

 I didn't have the heart to haggle as he was such a nice bloke and I thought €10 was reasonable.  The next day we were up early and off to a couple of Vide Greniers I'd seen advertised earlier in the week, where I managed to snaffle a rustic saucepan rack/shelf and a lovely pastis bottle for 50 centimes!
 
( The glass was an early birthday present from my brother and SIL.)



More glasses were bought at a Brocante event at St Cyr en Talmondais, a neighbouring village
 
together with a rusty pitchfork head, that I've yet to find a home for
 
set of glasses and fork - €1 each

.....and a few more bits besides.





 

The day before we came home I dragged Dad back to Thierry's, bought more glasses and this fabulous 1972 film poster, total cost €5.


 
So buying in France doesn't have to be expensive, there are bargains to be found, you have to keep looking......I reckon rural areas are better.  Any of you have tips for vintage shopping in France?
 Me, I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

En Vacances Episode 2

Just three short weeks ago whilst enjoying the French sunshine, we took advantage of the lovely long days and did a fair bit of sight-seeing.  First up was Bourgenay, a bittersweet visit as we had camped here in the 70's and have wonderful memories of those times but I knew that it had changed drastically.   Driving into the village, now renamed Port Bourgenay due to the massive new marina, I couldn't believe what I saw.  An abundance of ghastly pastel coloured holiday complexes, I could have been in Florida!  Thankfully Camping L'Esperance has hardly changed and is now a municipal site. In the 70's it was run by the nuns from the Convent opposite which although also still unchanged looks very incongruous sat amongst neapolitan ice cream coloured monstrosities, which I purposely avoided in this snap.


On the way back through Talmont St Hilaire Dad was keen to stop at the motor museum.


Not really my tasse de the but actually I found it quite interesting.  There were several vehicles dating from the late 1800's and many more stunning later models, including...
 

OK, not stunning exactly but I had to include it didn't I ? It's a French motoring icon and I drove one for ten years... Of all the cars I have owned, the 2CV was my favourite.

Another icon, the Citroen DS, in my opinion the sexiest car ever.

...and check out this beast of a car which raced around the tracks of Le Mans in the fifties.
   


Later on in the week we visited Les Sables D'Olonne, home of the Vendee Globe

  

 where walking along the prom amongst the thousands of holidaymakers,

I bumped into my old friend Libby... how incredible was that? 
Unfortunately we were so busy gassing I forgot to get a photo.




Coulon was also on our agenda, sometimes referred to as Le Venise Verte of the Marais Poitevin
 due to the miles of canals and waterways in this area.









Wandering around the village we came across this clutch of Mobylettes, which evoked more memories... bombing around the French countryside on the back of one of these as a carefree teenager. No crash helmets in those days...oh the freedom.


This little town of Mareuil-sur-Lay was recommended for a visit

and so we did, very picturesque it was too.


Lucon was our nearest town and it was here I stopped at the tourist info centre to enquire whether there was anywhere I could buy a ball of wool...(I was on the home stretch of the crochet and sod's law I was a tiny bit short.)  Happily the lady receptionist understood me and directed me to a wool shop down the road where I managed to get a near perfect colour match.

Outside were a number of quirky vehicles planted up with various shrubs and trees. 
 


  
Lucon's cathedral spire is a landmark for miles around and behind it are Les Halles
 where the bustling food markets take place twice a week.


 One of the main attractions of a holiday in France was, for me, the chance to go rummaging at the Brocantes and Vide Greniers...but if you want to see what I bought there you'll have to come back soon.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

En Vacances, Episode 1

I've been home from my hols a week but what with a birthday, work and a sick cat (urinary infection, now much better thankfully) there's been no time for more blogging until now.  
I just love France, don't ask me why... I can't explain it. I just do.  I hadn't been to France for a holiday since the 80's when I spent a week in Paris, but in the 70's I had many very happy camping holidays in rural France with my parents and brother and for three consecutive years we went to the same site in Vendee.  It is of these holidays that I have the fondest memories.  So after 35 years I returned... and I wasn't disappointed.


We drove down on the Peage, unlike Blighty we didn't see much traffic and the B roads which I expected to be busier were quiet too.  No potholes or patched up roads here, how do they fund their fabulous roads?  Anyone know?


Our accommodation, which Dad forked out for was a lovely old four bedroom country house in Lairoux, a tiny hamlet a few miles from the coast. The massive garden came complete with an abundance of fruit trees, vines and swimming pool. The figs were amazing.



I had my photographers head on for most of the holiday and found Vendee a dream to snap.  I love  capturing the texture of old crumbling plaster, faded facades and peeling paintwork.  For me that really epitomizes the rural France I remember.  (it's true.. but doesn't it sound such pretentious shit?)





Vendee's landscape is very flat and you can see for miles.  At this time of year there's a preponderance of sunflower fields and hay bales, more photo opportunities!



However it wasn't just winding alleys and bucolic splendour, we saw these cool street performers when visiting La Rochelle.


Monsieur appears to be floating in mid air.  The arm attached to the pole is obviously false and the shoes are dodgy too but I still can't work it out, elucidate please someone.   Very cleverly they only moved when money was thrown into the hat, the one above doffed his hat to the donor....


...whilst this bloke standing on the harbour wall made clanking and creaking noises as if he was in dire need of a liberal squirt of  3 in 1.

 Check out this stunning graffiti.


 La Rochelle Harbour entrance - from one side

...and the other.


 arty shots... (a la Curtise)






Boulette s'il vous plait

Before we left we had lunch at this cafe.  Bloody hell, France is not cheap.
E3.30 for an Orangina.... WTF?   I still love it though.