26 September 2013

Shopping in the Paris Sunshine

The French sure do love their chickens.
I loved this one as well, but sadly she
cost the same as a whole coop so
she had to stay laying eggs in France.
Is there anything better than good shopping in Paris on a beautiful day?  Yes, that’s a rhetorical question – I know there’s plenty of other great things to enjoy in life, but dropping by Paris to buy lovely things on a lovely day is on my Yes Do That list.
I felt under no pressure to buy a lot of things, because now we don’t have the shop we don’t need the same volume of stock.  And my buying is different now, because items that would have sold well in a retail environment don’t attract the same interest at antiques fairs.  It’s strange but true, and that’s reality so I have to shop accordingly.  Silly bloody Malcolm, I could have bought so many very fabulous things for him in the shop, if only he still wasn’t reportedly hiding under his bed (it must be getting pretty ripe under there by now, but stay and rot I say). 
So anyway, I was very aware that my whole approach to buying has had to change to suit my new demographic and that led to a slow start, while I considered and rejected things that would have been so good in the shop, but not right for antiques fairs.  But by the end of our trawl through the Markets we emerged with lovely enamelware, interesting vintage copper, lovely vintage tins (some of which are staying at my house), striking jewellery, some particularly nice coffee grinders, excellent vintage pictures and advertisements, and sundry other things. 

Prices at the Porte de Vanves Markets range from
Quelle Delusional through to OMG I Must Buy
That Right Now.  French dealers know they have
great things and aren't open to negotiation too
often, and yet we still got some excellent bargains.

I find I am drawn to vintage wire-ware, and my very first purchase was what looks like a giant wire egg basket.  There was some debate among the dealers as to whether it was for collecting escargot or salad.  It would be an awful lot of escargot to fill that basket, even by French standards, so I’m going with the collecting salad vegetables suggestion.  This piece may well stay at my house as well – the jury is still out on this one, but I’m leaning towards Keep It.
What I didn’t find, but particularly want, is more of the giant wooden chopping boards, that we have dubbed the Jamie Oliver boards because he uses them so often on his TV shows, often for serving food directly on to them.  But later in the trip I know I will catch up with a number of French dealers who often have this type of stock, so it’s not a lost cause yet.  While I wasn’t looking Doug bought several really quite old French school slates, which he thinks will work well in kitchens for shopping lists.  What a regular little stylist he’s become.
A small selection of my purchases, which I
grabbed a quick photo of before Doug scooped
them up into the van.  No time for taking
photos when I should be shopping til I fall
down dead, apparently.
As usual with the Porte de Vanves Markets, you’ve got to get there early enough that you need to have a torch with you, but then stay to do a few laps because different dealers unpack at different rates.  Seriously good things at seriously good prices tend to go early, but you can still pick up interesting and affordable stock if you hunt for a few hours. 
So then, well stocked and just a little bit sunburned, we headed off to Saumur in the western end of the Loire Valley, to position ourselves for an early start at the Montsoreau Puce.  This is a fabulous Puce, held only once a month and right on the banks of the Loire River, so it’s in a lovely location.  You need to be careful to not gawk at all the goodies too intently that you don’t watch where you’re going, though, because you can literally step into the river as there are no guard rails.  No Nanny State around here, nosiree – you are responsible for where your own gawking leads you.
I really liked this glass lidded jar, and if I had
been buying for the shop I would have
risked the expense because I think it would
have sold when properly displayed in the
shop.  I found other lovely things, though.
How I hate early starts, but if you want to get all civilized and have breakfast and then mosy on down to the Puce, you’ll find people like me were there several hours earlier and all the good things are gone.  So on Puce day you find only bakers and idiot antiques dealers up and about before it gets light. 
But!!!  Quelle Disaster!!!  When planning our itinerary I stupidly looked at the general Montsoreau website to look at market dates, rather than the specific Montsoreau Puce site.  So Madame Idiote noted the wrong market date.  The September Puce was on well before we even left Australia, and the next one isn’t for weeks.  So that was stupid.  Stupid in English, let alone French. 
So anyway, we walked some distance from the markets that were setting up (which had nothing of interest to us) and sat on the banks of the Loire River to watch the sun rise over the water.  It was quite warm, and very still and quiet, with a light mist rising off the river and lots of fish jumping.  Tiny furred water creatures, perhaps water voles, nosed around the nearby reeds, and water birds were just starting to call to each other.  I’ve always thought that if I won Lotto and had a home with a moving water view it would be the ocean, but large rivers have their own beauty, with lots going on if you just sit and watch. 
There is no shortage of great kitchenware at
the Porte de Vanves Markets, and we bought
a lot.
We decided to take a leisurely drive back to Dieppe, and discovered that a popular autumn Sunday morning practice throughout a great deal of the central western French countryside involves blasting small birds with shotguns.  There were hundreds of people out and about, with their dogs and their shotguns and their friends, and no small bird was going to go unslaughtered.  But having said that, we couldn’t see exactly the type of game they were after.  Every single shooting group was in a field of stubble barely inches tall, so we thought it must be quail.  But how is quail as a game dish after it’s been blasted with shotgun pellets?  There would be more lead than bird.  At any rate, we noted to ourselves that we would be polite at all times when travelling in this region in the future, given that every second person seems to own a shotgun. 
Vintage French papier mache is very finely
made and always beautiful.
We arrived back in Dieppe in time to enjoy a pleasant lunch and then spent some time taking in the sea front activities.  There is a large skate park on the sea front, and it was packed with boys and young men, but hardly a skateboard in sight.  Scooters are very much the stunt machine of choice among the cool dudes of Dieppe, and there were a few young men who were seriously skilled.  So after watching the scooter dudes and some kite fliers, we had a sorbet and took a long walk along the promenade.  The pebbled beach makes strolling along the seashore difficult, so most people stick to the promenade.  Then off into the old town to see if we could find a patisserie, and back to the hotel with our delicious desserts to settle in for the evening.

The shoes were the youngest things on this table
by about 100 years, but they were by far
the most expensive things there.  Vintage
fashion at the Porte de Vanves Markets is
beautiful but you pay top dollar.
Yet another early start was necessary in order to be on the 6am ferry to New Haven, but our itinerary shows that by Thursday we can have a more civilized wake up hour.  Apart from eliminating stupid mistakes from future trips, I am going to have to re-examine my apparent enthusiasm for early starts.  They seem fine in the planning phase, but the reality is a bit sucky.  Still, this is the sacrifice sometimes necessary to position ourselves to get into the fairs and markets early enough to find the good things.  How we suffer to bring you nice things.  Oh the pain, the pain.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Caloundra but was also at the Porte de Vanves flea market last Saturday! It was every thing I imagined a Paris flea market to be. Good luck with your travels and treasure hunting. I'll put the Loire on my list for the next visit. Could be a few years away, sigh!