Friday, 1 May 2009

Flowers, Fries and Ferrets - A French Flea Market

It's the 1st of May, a national holiday here in France - a day where people exchange brins de muguet (bunches of lily of the valley) as a porte-bonheur or good luck charm. The sides of the roads in town are filled with people selling bunches of these delicate white flowers. Many of these people venture into local woodland to pluck the flowers themselves and are given free reign to install themselves and offer them for sale on this one day.

It's also La Fête du Travail (Labor Day), and many people will have had the day off and enjoyed an extra long lie-in this morning.

The 1st of May also marks the start of the season for brocantes - flea markets (or car boot sales) where people try to sell anything that may be cluttering up their homes. It's great fun, there's lots of haggling to be done and often a bargain or two to be found.

For people taking part, the fact that it's Labor Day and a day of rest doesn't prevent them from setting up their stalls from as early as 6:00 in the morning. We weren't taking part this year, so seeing that the forecast for heavy rain was in reality warm sunshine (maybe the weather man was having a lie-in too) we turned up around mid-day. The smell of BBQ and fries already filled the air...

The brocante was taking place in the grounds of a medieval donjon (a small castle) which resembles something out of a Disney fairytale.

Brocante at Le donjon de Septmonts
The setting for the Brocante

Sometimes the presentation can be pretty minimalist...

Items at a brocante
A typical stall - going for the "spread it all out on the ground" look

This fearsome creature is quite possibly the worst thing we've ever seen on sale at a brocante - but one man's junk is another man's treasure!

Stuffed Ferret
Is that why it's called a FLEA market?

Need a bucketful of dolls...? Sorted!

Dolls in a bucket
At just 5 euros a head, the doll orgy was in full swing...

You could even get started on learning how to play pétanque or French bowls...

Boules de pétanque
Balls? No, bowls - for pétanque

A couple of erm..."interesting" paintings to bring some cheer to your living rooms...

Portrait of a Crying Child
Awww, don't cry...

Painting of girl with flowers
We reckon the seller will be taking this one back home with him...

"L'Américain" - we've no idea why it's known as "An American Sandwich", but this half baguette filled with two enormous sausages and Lord knows how many handfuls of fries was Miniman's lunch. The second half was a struggle! And yes the lady at the food stall really did use her hands to add the fries...

L'Américan Sandwich

Another view of the brocante seen looking out from the woods across towards the village church.

Brocante - Flea Market Scene
The brocante and village church

So back to the symbol of the day - Lily of the Valley. We did of course buy a pretty bunch which we'd like to share with you, wishing you all the very best, wherever you may be.

Hopefully you'll feel a tiny bit closer to France on this beautiful spring day...

Un Brin de Muguet - Lily of the Valley
Pour Vous - Un Brin de muguet - some Lily of the Valley

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