Thursday, 25 May 2017


Vide grenier
Lots of words all meaning that the village turns out and flogs off its junk. 

There is at least one brocante every Sunday morning, if you are prepared to drive.  You don't  usually have to drive far. 

Two or three weeks beforehand  a crop of little roadside signs go up.  Brocante.  Name of village.  Date.  Sometimes you have never heard of the village.   Where on earth is Yvrencheux?  Sailly-Flébeaucourt?  Vacqueriettes-Erquières?  Usually it is quite hard to make out the detail - when? where?   Occasionally the organisers are aware of this and put up three A4 signs - Brocante.  Fontaine-l'Étalon.  19 Juin.  But usually it is a single sign,  and driving by at a moderate 70kph it is impossible to read it all.  Pass by a few times and you might get it.  Or perhaps you are supposed to stop your 2CV and read it.

Assuming you find the village and get there on the right day, what will you find?  First sign is a row of cars parked up on the grass verge.  Both sides.  The French love this stuff, and frankly there isn't a lot on in rural France on a Sunday morning.  St Louis' church opens for mass maybe once every six Sundays.  There are probably no pavements so there will be families walking along the single lane between the cars.  You might as well park up somewhere half a mile away and walk in like them. 

Every house in the village, pretty much,  takes this opportunity.   They are decluttering.  You are collecting new clutter.  They put a trestle table outside the gate.  Sometimes just an old bedsheet on the ground.  Then spread out their stuff.  Grown out of kiddies clothes and toys.  Grown out of biker gear and helmets.  Scythes and similarly mediaeval agricultural implements.   Ornaments.  60s Johnny Halliday albums.  Videos, DVDs,  CDs.   Hand painted plates.  Tarnished cutlery.  Relics of ancient holidays in Morocco.   Outboard motors.  Beer glasses.  Books, many obviously never read. 

There are a few professionals here - people who are selling leather belts, sunglasses, heavy metal tee shirts - but it is mostly the neighbours.  There is a lot of strolling and chatting.  This is la France profonde.

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