Broke at a Brocante
The best translation we’ve heard for ‘Brocante’ is ‘flea market.’ It’s a step above a car-boot sale and definitely a couple of steps better than a jumble sale. You’ll find some tat for sure, but you’ll also find some really nice stuff, good quality not-quite-antiques-yet but very French and very unusual.
The BFF is visiting and she spotted a sign for a Brocante in the nearby town of Mane. So that was Sunday morning planned… off we set, but as we neared Mane I remembered that I had almost no cash. I had precisely ten euros in my pocket.
“Don’t worry,” said the BFF. “I can give you a loan if you’re stuck.”
Well, I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but it was good to know that if I saw something that I really, really liked, I’d be able to buy it.
The first stall we looked at was mostly clothing. Don’t need any of that – I’d just bought a lovely pair of Levis at a second hand stall in a market for ten euros and my wardrobe was now fully equipped.
The second stall had loads of china ornaments. I spotted two little horses, of a type I used to collect when I was in my teens. I have two survivors from my original collection, slightly chipped but I still love them. They now have two friends. The blue one and the white one in the middle came home with me. The vendor wanted three euros for them; I got them for two. She had no change and made a big deal of going off to change my ten euro note.
I now had four two-euro coins jingling around in my pocket.
We wandered on, coming to a stall run by a Dutchman. We got chatting to him and discovered mutual friends (of course). He had a load of jigsaws for sale. Jigsaws are good for the dark winter nights, aren’t they? There was a box with two 1000 piece puzzles, still with its plastic wrapper intact…
I now had seven euros in my pocket and suddenly I began to wonder, just how far could one make ten euros go at a Brocante? Hmm…
The BFF likes purple. She spotted a pair of Adidas tracksuit bottoms, in her size and her colour… How much? she asked the vendor. One euro. She proffered a twenty euro note. Non, non, said the vendor. Pas de monnaie… she had no change.
“No problem!” I said, fishing out my one euro coin, and the BFF became the proud owner of a pair of purple tracksuit pants.
That particular stall had several rails of clothing and, before we moved on, we both spotted a very pretty grey cardigan, with a brooch type thingy in the shape of a dreamcatcher. The BFF has a dreamcatcher tattoo on her arm…
“How much,” we asked. Three euros was the reply. I offered two. The last of the big spenders, that’s me. But my BFF has a lovely new cardigan.
We stopped for a coffee break to sharpen our wits and then we continued up a narrow side street. Nothing caught my eye until I spotted cute a little jug with cave paintings on it. I didn’t need it but I really liked it…
How much? 50 cents? Sheesh, I couldn’t leave it there. Sure, it’s got two little chips, but I still like it.
We carried on browsing, the BFF mostly looking at clothes, me just looking. I spotted an interesting book about a guy who had ridden 7000 kilometres across Asia, but it was in French. Naw, leave it behind…
There was a hand-made sweater that I really liked, but the vendor wanted four euro for it. Determined to stick to my ten euro limit, I asked if she would take €3.50 for it. She shook her head and said no, she had knitted it herself. Fair enough, I’m a knitter myself and I wouldn’t sell my work too cheaply either.
We had a lunch date to go to, so we said we’d better leave. We were happy, we had a few nice bits and pieces and still had €3.50 left. One final stall caught our eye, set up beside the main road. We went over and browsed. I didn’t need a duck. I really didn’t.
But he’s home with me now and he makes a great place to keep small things like nuts…
We set off on foot towards our friend’s house. Who did we meet along the way but the LSH who was ducking in to the Brocante for a quick browse before joining us for lunch. Of course he had no money. I gave him the €2.50 that I still had in my pocket and we all joked about not spending it all in the one shop! The BFF and I continued on our way and I began to have a niggling doubt.
Feck it, I thought, and I rang the LSH.
“There was this book I saw…” I said, and I described the stall where it was to be found and what the cover looked like.
So now I have a French reading project for the winter.
And I still have €1.50 in change.
Ten euros is currently worth 7.37 pounds sterling or 11.16 US$