The Washerwoman

Friday 17 August 2012

French Leave

Good morning blog world! We have just returned from another jaunt across the channel in search of French treasures. We got home with a very full Camionnette as we were over there for a full week.

On our travels we visited some familiar haunts and had time to explore new places too. We met some lovely sellers, many with a story to tell about the items they were selling. One lady told me that her maman had worn the ice skates I had in my hand whilst Ice Skating on the Champs-Elysees in the 1940's. As far as I was aware the Champs-Elysees is a road, maybe a lake or pond alongside the road was frozen. My French wasn't up to extracting the fine detail so early in the morning!

We have a lot to learn in the way of manners from the French. even at the most ordinary of Vide Greniers (Car Boot Sale) one is expected to greet the stall holder and ask the price in the most customary way.
Very little English is spoken in most of the places we visit so a smile goes a long way and breaks down the barriers.
Once the transaction is complete it is usual to wish the stall holder a good day, and they will reciprocate.

I am ashamed to say that I sometimes overhear a few English voices, usually talking loudly in some misguided way to make themselves understood. To hear them haggling aggressively over a Euro doesn't make me proud. ( I very rarely haggle in France, if the price isn't right I leave it). Pricing tends to be straightforward, for example 5 euros, 10 euros, 15 etc. If you haggle it involves awkward numbers such as 4, 9 or 14. The stall holders rarely have any sort of float or available change so the whole transaction turns into a nightmare with everyone turning out pockets to find an elusive euro!

Something about my appearance and perhaps the style of clothing, means that I am usually mistaken for being French. My patchwork coat causes a lot of interest and comment, last weekend one lady stopped her conversation and chased after me wanting to know where I purchased such an unusual garment! It is now known as the “coat of many comments”.

What better start to a week of hunting than a walk along the beach and a nose around a crumbling château? This one had the added bonus of holding an Antiques fair over the weekend. I have rarely seen such a mouthwatering collection of stalls... beautiful carved religious figures with crumbling paint, ancient stone cherubs, faded tapestries, iridescent enamel boxes and old painted domed trunks. All way beyond my price range, but wonderful to see.

This stall was set out in front of the fireplace, above was this amazing painted ceiling.

A lot of the château has only just been restored and has been left in a wonderful “pared-down” and crumbling distressed state. Below is the staircase and the door way from the courtyard.

I love the contrast of the cool interior to the scorching sunlit garden seen through an ancient shuttered window.

Throughout the building there were intriguing features and objects of interest. The combination of part museum and part Antiques Fair made it a fascinating place.

As usual I have managed to find a very eclectic mix of French goodies....

..from an early 20th century black satin Opera coat with pale pink rose coloured silk lining and a beautiful old lace blouse with crystal buttons that belonged to “ma tante” (another story from an enthusiastic stall holder), a red 1940's jacket with moth damage, but perfect for customising or reworking to create something fresh and new.

… a colourful collection of toys, games and printing blocks dating from the 1950s.

The collection of toys was intriguing as amongst it was a little notebook written in French and English. It was most interesting as the explanations were written in English. You would expect them to be be written in French unless the author was English? Another unsolved mystery!

These items will be coming with us to the long list of fairs over the next few months. I have a full list on the side bar of the blog, and if you click on the image it will take you to the website or blog for more details.

...PS I also bought some gorgeous French seen here......

and here....


Marigold Jam said...

Looks like you had a great week! I know what you mean about some Brits in France who seem to think talking very loudly will make the French understand better!! I often used to cringe when I heard such people and felt compelled to say "We are not all like that"!!

Porcelina said...

Oh well done for having a go with the French, mine is pretty terrible!

So interesting about those ice skates - my other half found an old pair of skates without the blades last year, caused us all kinds of investigative actions to confirm what they were! I did a post about it here:

Miss P xx

jane and the happy crow said...

Wonderful painted ceiling and what an array of lovely finds! Can you send me a better pic of the bits in the photo with the cut out children in especially the bits in the top right hand corner, key, chair etc and how big are the statues in the last photo and did I spot another madonna in the background of the first photo? Oh and another thing, did you find any more old wall paper this trip, I keep kicking myself that I did not see that on your stand before that lady nabbed most of it! What a very demanding comment this is!!! lots of love xxxx

Josie-Mary said...

Lovely finds! My French is not good so I wouldn't have much luck! :) x

The fabric of my life said...

Wonderful finds as usual Lizzie. It must be embarrassing to hear the rude way the English deal with stall holders in France, I get embarrassed at the way they deal over here too, when they know the value of goods and STILL beat the seller down. Like you I almost never haggle but leave an item if it is out of my price range.

Looking forward to seeing some of your goodies in the flesh x

nilly said...

Lovely post and what a dreamy antiques fair. I wonder what size that printed "overall" is - must come and find you at Newark!

BusyLizzie said...

Hi Nilly, You would have loved the Antiques Fair in the chateau! I think the overall is approx a 12. see you at Newark! Lizzie

Unknown said...

Oh gosh it looks like heaven! So many lovely finds, that Opera cape sounds dreamy. I am hopefully moving back to the New Forest this Winter so I will make sure I will come visit you when I'm closer. I'm sure it'll be bad for my bank balance. :-) xx

Bodkin said...

love the french post .hope to see you soon .ps thing in september cancelled will be oct now. so enjoying the sun. loved the bit about the coat xx

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