My idea of heavenly relaxation has been realized in the last 36 hours: driving across the French countryside, antique shopping, being by myself in my French mode without a schedule to adhere to. The food and the scenery are all great, but what I really enjoy is being able to chat with the French people, especially at the markets; this man comes from Thionville up near Luxembourg; his dream vacation is to take his motorcycle on a drive on Route 66, quelle surprise!
he grows and sells 1,000 of these braided shallot strands per year~
and in his spare time, makes baskets of osier; he says it is tough work and hard on your fingers. I bought a rectangular basket from him that I will bring home with me.
He was at a little regional foods market in Pont a Mousson; the swans on the Moselle River near the market also gave me a real sense of calm~
I hit two antique markets on Sunday; both were casual affairs, in the streets; one in a tiny town that was entirely devoted to the market, a combination garage sale and antique sale, with food for sale and the local marching band providing entertainment; I bought some great stuff from the twin brothers here, in front of a ruin; at left he wears a replica Confederate cap in leather; "they call this cap style the South" he said~
The other venue I went to was in Metz~
Lots of digging and looking around, as you find at these vide grenier sales, which are real bottom-fishing, you never know what you will find, sort of like a community garage sale with professionals thrown in the mix; these sales vary widely across France, but in this case anyone who wanted to sell just unloaded in front of their house. I found a bunch of great linens to complement the ones from the Paris flea; then for some reason I stopped at a certain vendor with a whole bunch of junky furniture; he said he had cleaned out the top floor of his house to make room for a rental space. Then, I spied IT. A tiny triangle of old red fabric under a pile of old draperies. As it turns out, it was a French flag, de l'epoque de la Liberation, c'est sur he told me. Oh yeah, he said, he had forgoten about the flag; he got it out early but it had become buried under the rest of the stuff. He was born in this house and the flag has been there for as long as he has, excuse the dust and cobwebs. Here is le drapeau, hanging out the window of our house:
It is a little tattered at the end, but it was wrapped up around the faceted wood 6 ft tall pole, so it was preserved quite well except at the very end; the tip is copper~
the pole is wrapped in the same blue fabric, this tells me it may have been carried in the streets, not just hung out on a building~
I paid him what he asked, and slowly turned on my heel. Temped to run, but I unfurled the flag and walked through the market back to the car. Every fifth vendor called to me along the way: Vous allez manifester? (are you going to protest?). Or Allez, la patriote! etc etc. When they did, I pumped my arm and the flag, like a majorette, and that made them continue with their encouragement but even louder. The French are too much Fun!
I have never seen a French flag of this age and in this condition; this was like a once in 10-years score to me; definitely a Start the Car moment. Not sure yet if it will stay here in Beaune or get shipped back. Just too good. More later on my other purchases... I am off now to make our moules-frites for dinner.....