Sunday was Vide Grenier day at one of the local villages. J took a stand and had to head off early. Di and I pootered off later, only to discover when we got into town that there was a major cycle race going on and we were stopped by two chaps, who I suspected of being retired cyclists, signalling with large red batons.
After much hand waving , discussion and chin wagging and despite a large gap in the traffic, M in charge stood gamely in the middle of the road, baton raised, whilst we did a U turn and proceeded into the countryside on a rather circuitous route to get to our destination. In no way a chore, we followed his instructions, ignored the sat nav which kept trying to re-route us into the path of the oncoming cyclists and we wended our way through glorious countryside, happening upon a reception in some out of the way village until we eventually came into the car park for the Vide Grenier from the ‘wrong’ direction. Completely full, I ventured in until level with two cars, neatly parked in the shade of the only building. The driver of one glared over, seemingly about to depart…as it appeared was the second. Allowing him space to leave, I neatly pulled in and gained one of only two spaces available out of the hot sun! The chicken, recently bought for supper, was very glad to be out of the heat and stayed cool, wrapped in all the superfluous coats in the car, whilst we braved the heat of the market.
So far, I have not been overly enamoured by the quality of the vide greniers. Perhaps I have been spoiled in the past, when the vide’s have been set up through towns, with the roads closed to traffic and everyone pouring their old and ancient relics and antiques onto the pavements in front of their houses. The ones locally, to date, have been car boot sales, with lots of children’s toys and few of the interesting objects you hope to find. And I have been amazed at the number of English voices belonging to people who live here, but quite obviously can’t speak French. I wonder quite how they manage! It was fun looking round this one though. Very obviously a big social occasion with food and drink stalls busy all day. J’s stall was actually the most interesting. His eclectic mix of French antiques, rubber dingy and oars, brass shell cases, English memorabilia and unusual nick-knacks reflected his love of collecting diverse and unusual items and made for good viewing. The heat of the day was producing some very red looking people by the time I left and in the end, I bought very little, but it was fun looking. I was so glad to get back to a cool car. I definitely had the best spot in the car park!
As a contrast, Poitiers has turned up a very interesting Depot on the outskirts, which turns out to be an agency for people selling furniture they no longer require. Fortunately for me, very tall, old wardrobes are not what your average person wants and the depot had several that were eminently suitable for the Priory. Unfortunately, we had an hour looking round, only to find out, when I wanted to start discussions about purchasing and delivery, that they closed at 12 so our potential purchases were foiled. I only hope that when I get back from the UK, I’m still going to be able to find such lovely wardrobes. The large bedrooms in the Priory, the high ceilings and the beautiful soft colour of the stone, which as a neighbour who has previously visited the house pointed out last night are rather castle like, lend themselves to large simple items of furniture. Once, many years ago, I visited a similar house in Italy, a large ancient converted water mill almost on the beach, south of Pisa. To my naïve eyes at the time, the house seemed very bare, used as I was to the colour of the carpets, curtains and decoration in English houses. Now I love the simplicity of wide, ancient, richly coloured wooden floorboards, the large internal shutters at the windows and the uncluttered interiors with simple, solidly elegant pieces of furniture that reflect the history and magnificence of the high ceilinged rooms. The shafts of sunlight that cross the floorboards from the tall, narrow windows make the walls and rich, dark furniture glow in a way that I have only ever seen on the continent.