Friday, March 11, 2016

Strolling the brocante in Arles - part deux



Call me spoiled but I tend to have low expectations for the brocante or flea market in Arles held on the first Wednesday of the month. It might be, possibly, one of the few things that I do tend to take for granted in this mythic 2000 and change year old city. I don't know why. So I graze and glaze. I am still there mind you! Just not with the bit between my teeth, ready to run, as I can be at, say, the déballages in Avignon or Montpellier.


I actually appreciate enormously that the vendors really aren't trying to prove anything. You buy or you don't, well, that is your choice and they will most likely be occupied preparing a mid-morning snack of vin rouge et saucisson de taureau anyway, perhaps over a game of cards. The goods are there, even if you may have to have a very keen eye - or a lot of patience, something which I think we have already established is not this particular redheads point fort - to wade through The Rusty and The Dented (a possible name for a Provençal cowboy film if ever there was one)...


...to uncover the bijous, such as these mother of pearl inlaid Chinoiserie wall panels - 30 Euros for the four was the dealers opening price and his lifted eyebrow insiniated that he was willing to negotiate. I called my friend Ellie* to see if they might be something for her shop but, wise one that she is, not even an iphoto would do, the lady only buys what she has seen directly. I can't argue with that and so left them behind with a tiny hint of wistfulness.


One aspect that is unique to the Arles brocante is the plethora of pieces evoking the traditions of both the Gardians, the cowboys of the Camargue and les Arlésiennes, their beautifully attired female companions, such as the linoleum cut stamps above and the portrait (in the first photograph up top) that I truly kick myself for not buying. These wares add another dimension to the proceedings and call to the local women who carefully examine swathes of antique lace and silks to use in their costumes each May Day.


But of course, there are plenty of more straightforward baubles to please and entice such as this set of a Napoleon III lustre and sconces...


...however, I never stated that everything was pure élégance, now did I? For while the over-sized wooden rosaries have been all the rage for some time now, did you happen to notice the framed Fanny? I did and admittedly that is what moved me to snap. I know, I am hopeless.













Perhaps a Quimper platter would be more to your liking? Surprisingly, it was offered by the same vendor. Shall we just say that he was catering to everyone's tastes?


It was only afterwards when formatting these photos that I noticed the perfect pique-cierge or candleholder amidst this pile. I would have been interested as it could have made a nice addition to the pair that we already have, even if that meant dealing with the seller, who is especially grumpy and absolutely tenacious when it comes to sticking to his price. And no, that is not just because I am L'américaine!


For truly, he is a character, one with a regard nearly as piercing as the one present in this waist-high representation of Mr. George Washington that he had propped up towards the far edge of his stand. Don't you love trying to imagine who might be the person to be tempted by such an object? I do.


But maybe I am in the wrong, perchance you have seen quite a bit amidst the chaos here that caught your eye. Hmmm...well, you know, the brocante season will soon be firing up throughout France...you could always fly over. I can promise that Provence would certainly welcome you...

Or, if that isn't quite feasible, you might enjoy extending your brocante stroll by visiting a few of my friend's wonderful online sources:

To see Ellie's shop at Have Some Decorum, please click here and head to the antiques section.
To visit Sharon's selection at My French Country Home, please click here. 
To visit Corey's always changing items at Tongue in Cheek, click here please. 
And for those of you on the West Coast in the States, I am pleased to share that my friend, Elizabeth, aka The Vintage Contessa is going to have her always popular booth at the Remnants of the Past Show on April 15th-16th. For more information, click here.

Voila! Ah, a little bit of antique happiness for your weekend. I know that it always does the trick for me - wishing for a bit of patina personified, a touch of history that you can hold in your hand. :)
Before I sign off, I want to thank everyone who responded to my previous post. For those of you that missed it...honestly? The comments are worth a look. They gave me so much to think about and I am honored to have such generous, intelligent and 'from the heart' readers. You inspire me to no end. 

Gros Bisous, 
Heather


*Friends, it is only as I was getting ready to publish this post that I discovered that Ellie has written a post to let everyone know that she is currently in a palliative care center in Paris. I know that quite a few of you are very fond of her. If you haven't seen the post already, you can find it here. As I have said before, she is one of the most amazing people that I have ever had the privilege to meet. Despite this physical setback in her 6th year of living with ALS and giving up her new home in Provence, she remains strong and determined. But I will still be praying for her in my way, as I always do and invite her fellow friends to join me. A bit of Love goes a long way...

33 comments:

robin said...

It's funny - at a glance it could be Treasure Mart (here in Ann Arbor)! Non? Something tells me you would say, "non!" and point out all of the strictly French treasures. There is much to love, save for the framed butt - D'OH! Much to love including the photography - loving the mirror with the tree in the middle! Yes, a very nice way to start the weekend - especially with this spring-like weather! Merci!

La Contessa said...

MERCI YOU LOVELY RED HEAD MERCI!Just today I thought I better start planning what to TAKE with me................but MORE importantly which HAT I should DON for the FESTIVITIES!
I can ALWAYS FIND SOMETHING In those photos above.................it doesNOT have to be displayed PRETTY for MY eye to SNATCH and feel ELATED!
Once again.......THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
XOXO

Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

I, too, went to a "brochante" in Temecula, CA today. However, near the end we were hit with torrential rain and tree shaking winds. While running for cover, I immediately lost my desire to purchase the lovely Jardiniere I had been eyeing. However, another person had more courage for I saw her leave with it just a few minutes later!

Perhaps many of your readers are too young to know the story of "Fanny" with Maurice Chevalier and Leslie Caron, I think.

The reason for the "Fanny" is that when your team looses at Petanque, you have to kiss the "Fanny". I have been looking for a "Fanny' for our Petanque Court, but so far they have been, like this one, a bit too graphic.

Beware, this is definitely X-Rated. Got to love the French!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mEBkp-tX2U

Smiles from Charlotte

francetaste said...

I love going to brocantes, but maybe even more to vide greniers--the mass "empty-the-attic" events that replace U.S. Garage sales. You can really find gems amongst the gravel, because people often are getting rid of grannie's stuff that has been taking up space. They want something new and modern from Ikea, and they just want to get rid of the old. So the prices are low and you can find real treasures. But there's also lots and lots of "fannies" somit takes time to hunt. My husband is amazing at spotting the treasure in a pile of trash and buying it for a song.
--Taste of France

donna baker said...

All the little tableaux remind me of the book I'm reading EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED where bits and pieces of Jewish lives remain from a town destroyed in the Ukraine by the Nazis. I am currently selling all the antiques and accumulations I have gathered in an antique mall booth. Nothing is sacred anymore. I've lost interest in it all, so it goes, hopefully.

RebeccaNYC said...

I'm always fascinated at the Brocante, but rarely buy anything because I am so intimidated by the language. And the numbers. I may never get the French numbers right.

I read Ellies post with real sadness, and respect for her determination and sense of humor. I too am praying for her in my way. xo

bonnie poppe said...

Yes! I live in Provence, near Carpentras, and tomorrow I'm going to the brocante, but the VGs are better for finding cheap treasures. Its so true that most of the french people want new things and have no interest in the old things I love. I've found treasures in the big poubelles (trasn dumpsters) also. I love to rescue unloved things .....

bonnie poppe said...

Oh, the brocantes, the vide greniers, the deballage at Avignon! I went to my first deballage a few weeks ago and nearly fainted with joy. Just to see some of the amazing things, even if I can't afford them. Love your photos and I agree, buy that photo, buy those MOP plaques, and try for the pic cierge and the medici planters behind in the same photo, but he probably wanted too much for all of it .....
bonnie in provence

simpleimages2 said...

Flea market shows a lot of stories. Or is it ready to be discarded past.

I notice a box which looks like a chess board (5th photo). Did it contain chess pieces?

I'm praying for Ellie.

Judith Ross said...

I would definitely need someone with a good, experienced eye by my side. Even in the photos, I find all of this "stuff" a bit overwhelming.

Loree said...

Quite an eclectic mix of things. I am sure I would have found something I liked. I wish they would have similar markets here but the only way you can get your hands on some old things is to attend an auction or an antiques shop and sometimes the prices are out of this world.

Judi of Little House said...

I think it will be a while before I get to France again, so I must search out some brocante or vgs here in So Cal... I've been meaning to go to the RoseBowl and see if it might feel a bit like an 'antique market' or a vg.. I've always kind of thought it was mostly a garage sale, with tools, nails and broker photography equipment, but I think I might have just avoided and thought that way because it wasn't in France! Ha Ha.. 'Open up your eyes, Judi, you might just have a treasure right in your own back yard in Southern California!' I need to take a pal, as I'm no good at bargaining! Thank you, Heather, for your beautiful photos and words!

Jeanne Henriques said...

I wish I could take you on an excursion around the side streets of Saigon Heather...I have a feeling you would really enjoy discovering my secret places. It would be an adventure, I can promise you that! xx

Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

Hi Judi, Since you live in So Cal, you need to attend the French Food Camps at Andrea Drexelius's 1926 home in Laguna Beach. The next one is THIS Saturday, March 19th. I can't begin to tell you how much fun they are: Champagne, French cheeses, artisanal breads, a beautiful lunch and the company of 20 to 30 witty, charming, like-minded Francophiles. Not only does Andrea know all the great Flea Markets, shops and other sources here in So Cal, she also has a home in Burgundy where she gives Brochante and antique tours. Check out this link: http://frenchbasketeer.com/t/cooking-classes

Elizabeth, the Vintage Contessa who blogs with LOTS of CAPS, has also flown down from Orinda a few times to attend. People come from all over So Cal so I am sure you will soon find a "Pal" to go the Rose bowl or other venues.

If you live near Riverside County, I can clue you into the "hot spots" with great stuff and VERY reasonable prices.

I can't go every month but I missed the last two so I will be getting my French Food Camp fix on Saturday, March 19th. Hope you come!

Smiles from Charlotte

Stephen Andrew said...

If portraits of constipated looking Americans are your thing, I can offer the grand tour. One side of my family has a storage unit full of them. They can all agree that they hate them and are ugly and would never hang them in their homes, yet there is a bitter almost decade old battle over who they "belong $" to.
Also included in that storage unit: cheap flatware I bought from Target I swapped in for the good stuff. Seven f*****g years ago. No one has noticed and yet no one would agree I could have. Meanwhile it's been used dozens of times since its seizure. A happy ending of eminent domain.

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

Thanks for letting us know about Ellie - puts life into real perspective and this week I really needed that shift of focus.

Maria Anagnostopoulou said...

I coudnt believe my eyes! Le livre rose, "La lecture et le francais" was one of my first books when I began learning french 1958! Yes! I was born 1953! Unfortunately I dont have this book anymore, I think it belonged to my beloved french teacher. We remained friends for more than 40 years till her death. Ah, the memories from your photo!

Heather Robinson said...

Ah, you are right Sister - I only see the Frenchiness here! And you know how much I love Treasure Mart. Maybe the Fanny is international? ;)
I love you!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh my, I think you would be out of your mind at this brocante! It is not fancy but there is much to be had for a sharp eye such as yours.
xoxo

Heather Robinson said...

Charlotte! My goodness, I am still blushing from that one!! To think that I have lived in Provence for so long and did not know of that tradition?? Or perhaps the women have wised up and said "Non, merci, c"est fini!" ;)
Thank you so much for the info!

Heather Robinson said...

Can I just say that it makes me so happy when you all talk to each other here? Look, there is even an invitation below!

I agree with both of you that so many people want "tout neuf" - and I always think of those huge "silk-screened paintings" of New York City and London as perfect examples, right? When serious treasures are to be had for a song. The tiny village has a VG quite often and I really have found some wonderful things there. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Donna, do you want to tell us where your booth is just in case anyone happens to be in the area? You never know!
PS. I have heard nothing but rave reviews for that book but it is still on the (long) "to read" list.

Heather Robinson said...

Awesome. I am sure that she will appreciate that.

And seriously? I STILL have problems with numbers! Still!

Bisous.

Heather Robinson said...

I am sure that he did, he is expensive even if his stand doesn't look like it! Ok, save for the lustre en bois doré that I bought from him for 1 Euro when he did the brocante at St. Etienne du Grés! ;)

Did you ever go to the deballage in Montpellier when you were in the Languedoc? I like it even better than Avignon as there are even more Italian and Spanish dealers.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you, Edgar.

And I didn't look in the chess box - I was too mesmerized by the chandeliers!

Heather Robinson said...

I do too. I have to really be on a mission (or have a lot of pocket money!) to look seriously.

Heather Robinson said...

I bet they are Loree. But I also imagine that Malte was/is such a crossroads that the antique pieces are amazing if pricey.

Heather Robinson said...

Charlotte, I emailed Judi with your response to give her the heads up but I know that she has a full plate these days. That was lovely of you to think of her for Andrea's events.

Judi, I haven't been to the Rose Bowl flea in about thirty years! But I remember it was fun when I did. I bought myself an Icart print there and still have it. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Jeanne, you know that I would be over the moon! I would hyperventilate! I love, love, love everything that you bought during your amazing sejourn at Chateau Mango. The giant Buddha panel is still a favorite...but it is all exactly what I love so dearly. I will look forward to seeing you pull it all together at TF!
xoxoxox

Heather Robinson said...

You are a wise one, Stephen! Why let it sit in purgatory when it could be useful? I am sure that La Contessa would back you up if ever anyone asked by saying that she had sent you that set herself to use for everday. ;)

And if you think the portraits are bad, what about the Renaissance period mansions in Arles that have been closed for generations due to infighting over inheritance??

Heather Robinson said...

That means that you are having a hard week, again I believe. I am sorry to hear that Jackie. And yes, Ellie's situation and her concurrent bravery often shifts my perspective too.

Heather Robinson said...

Maria, this made my day! Thank you for sharing your memories.
Gros Bisous.

Fiona Wright said...

I too, love the VIdes Greniers and brocantes. The season for thes is ramping up in the Gard with many posters advertising all kinds of events for the coming Easter weekend. I am a Canadian, fortunate enough...no...privileged to be spending the winter in the Uzes area, enjoying France and shopping for stock for my online Etsy shop, EnProvence.
Once I get home to Toronto at the end of April/16 all the fabulous things I have found will be available for shipping to USA and beyond. Please visit!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/EnProvence

I am enjoying your posts and have made many notes! Will be visiting that restaurant in Nimes next time we're down! Thanks for all you are posting, so nice to find kindred spirits in love with this wonderful country.