Sunday, January 16, 2011

French Markets

I'm a sucker for tag sales, antique shows, country auctions and swap meets, but I love, love, love European village markets. I was happy to come across a few of them during my trip to France this past November. 1000's of them pop up across the country--on tables, lawns, under tents, in empty sleepy villages, big cities, on village greens, along riverbanks, on the grounds of a chateau, etc...  

Treasure hunting is in my genes. In the 70's my parents hauled lots of copper back from Turkey, cherubs that they incorporated into a fountain, and assorted antiques, inkwells, gargoyles, little signs, etc...  My Aunt Kate was a dealer at Brimfield, Mass. and the Antiques shows on the westside Piers in NYC.  Good stuff!

Antiquites-Brocante a la Bastille, Paris. Loved that tureen, but passed it by.

Marche is a market, and is usually for food--meats, produce, herbs and spices.
Foire is a clothing market.
Brocante is a flea market with junk, collectibles and antiques as well.
Vide-grenier means "empty attic" and translates to a yard sale with some dealers mixed in.
Marche aux puces is a flea market.
Troc is short for trocadero, which means place of trade.
Then there are salons de antiquites and salons de collectionneurs...which are self explanatory; shops.

I've gotten some furniture over the years...bureaus, settees, steamer trunks, copper weather vanes, etc... Dumpster Dives and sidewalk finds would be a whole 'nother blog post! My favorite things from "the flea" are little nothings that catch my attention, and that transport me a bit when I see them in the house, whether they are decoration or put to use. I got a neat set of old, wooden handled screwdrivers at a roadside swap meet in Pennsylvania (I use them frequently), small brass weights in St Barth's, Victorian watch fobs and silver napkin rings on Portobello Rd in London, a Le Creuset dutch oven for $25 on the North Fork of Long Island, tablecloths and unique prints for a few Euro each in Cortona, Italy, a Talavera pottery sink and wrought iron stand from Mexico and, and, and...

Our cooking class went to Montreuil Bellay in the Loire Valley for the Brocante that's held every month. I snapped pix the whole way in and out. The market winds along the streets and is in the shadow of a chateau that dates from 1025 A.D. That's no split level ranch with plastic toys, broken appliances and bodice-ripper novels for sale on the driveway! Talk about feeling transported! There was a tea shop, boulangerie, patisserie, and a dusty little storefront selling freshly harvested chestnuts. I could have wandered off for hours!

Due to baggage and weight restrictions and prohibitive shipping that would have exceeded price of the bargains being hunted, I picked up a few little mementos that caught my eye. My cooking class colleague and new bestie Katherine is a French teacher, so the bargaining was even better!

For 20 Euros total, or about $27 US, what was my haul from Montreuil Bellay? I chose eight 1930's postcards from a stack, for the colors and graphic elements. The coats of arms represent ancient provinces from Brittany to the Loire. Katherine bargained and I got them for 10 Euros. The paper was fragile and some of the cards were bent or ripped. I chose 8 of the nicest, and back home I stuck them in frames that had pre-cut double mats and, voila! Instant wall art.

All kinds of rusty stuff was laid out on a blanket. Amidst the jumble, a metal cow's head (about 7" across and 5" high) and a ring of old keys caught my attention. Got the cow's head for 8 Euros and the set of 16 various keys for 2 Euros.

Here's what I did with my little treasures.

With a metal brush attached to a drill, I buffed off the major rust.

Sprayed a coat of primer to inhibit future rust.

Sprayed two coats of paint. I chose 'oil rubbed bronze' to mimic well-kept metal. I like the towel around his neck.
On a side trip to Chateau Chenonceau, I saw the same cow affixed to a centuries-old butcher block. I'd bet mine is a knock off, based on an original design. It was neat to see it in use!

The kitchen at Chenonceau inspired me and I'll be putting my cow on the side of a kitchen cabinet to hold a towel.

Ok, Blogger is fighting me on adding anymore to this posting, as I've just reached the 1GB free storage limit. Au Revoir from the French Markets, for now.

1 comment:

  1. Pat the cow for me. I'm sure you'll be gratified every time you hang a towel.