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...
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:
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.
*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...