Remi wrapped his arm around my shoulder, we picked up the pace and shuddered in unison. That Mistral wind! Always arriving precisely when it is most unwelcome. So it was on a Sunday morning in December. But the sun was gorgeous as it always is on such windswept days and for once, I had prepared, wrapping myself in layers of cashmere with gloves and a bonnet in my pocket plus fly-sized glasses to keep my eyes from tearing. I had to keep my focus. For yet again, we were on the hunt.
Of course, we didn't actually need a thing from the brocante or flea-market at St. Etienne du Grès. But it has always been about the Art of Looking for us. The prick of possibility. From those very first weeks together in Vanves on the outskirts of Paris, we would walk the puces every weekend, sometimes on both Saturday and Sunday. It was our antiques education, not to mention free entertainment. We didn't yet have a spare dime between us, so despite our empty apartment (I had only brought an Icart print and many pairs of heels with me from NYC), we simply asked questions of the dealers and compared likes and dislikes over a scrambled brunch upon returning home.
The Mistral whipped Remi and I off into our own individual orbits. Which was just fine as we were both too busy storing up little bits of lost history and found inspiration to be good company. Pushed forward by the wind, I rolled through aisle after aisle, past the sellers lunching on saucisson and warming wine, while mentally sifting the junk from the jewels at each stand. And somehow, just that walking while looking outwards with a soft gaze, always tends to do the same for me mentally. Stuck staring, I wondered with my head tilted just so and responded to each dealer's enquiring eyes with a nod that was curt but kind. "No, sorry but no." As always, I was searching without really knowing what I was looking for and perhaps that is another reason why such flea market strolls are so comforting. Anonymous, right in the thick of the crowds, we all are.
I finished first as I often do, impatient red-head that I am. But then again, it just might be that I like that moment of turning back to search for Remi's face, that familiar face, to catch him unaware with weighty eyes. Slowly, I reeled myself in towards him until that arm was replaced wordlessly, shoulder-round. We didn't end up buying anything as we knew we probably wouldn't and turned to leave as the dealers started to close up shop - repacking their wares carefully and with a hint of accustomed disappointment - all of us waiting for a "Yes, thank you, I'll take it," possibly at the next brocante.
A boutis or typically Provençal antique quilt. They are getting harder to find...
Rusty ponies, anyone?
Vintage santons and saints for a Provençal crèche...
What do we think? An olive or grape press?
And for my friend La Contessa of Hen House...
Did you see anything that tempted you?
Sending my very Best from a tiny village in the South of France,