French Market Review - January 2014

A Happy New Year to everyone, with lots of good health and happiness, and everything that you wish for.  

However, before I dive into 2014, I thought it would be good to share with you the highlights of the last flea markets of 2013, before the local artisans took over in December selling their wonderful wooden toys and warm spicy fudge!

I don’t expect to find many ‘Christmas’ treasures at the flea markets, as most families pass their porcelain baubles and plaster nativity figures down through the generations - which is as it should be, but not too good for treasure hunters!

There are not a lot of ‘newish’ treasures either – although I would be telling an untruth if I didn’t share this photo of a lone, damp cardboard Santa waving his hand as he stands by the hand basins, chairs and a very sparse tree!

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At the end of November I visited the flea market in Mirebeau, the home of the rare Baudet donkeys (although there are lots of them in this village!).  They look like cuddly teddy bears, and were happily wandering around their pens, which were in-between the stalls; they were not for sale, just to admire - much to my husband’s relief!

Along with the donkey interest, the market holders were enjoying a glass (or two!) of Beaujolais Nouveau.  It’s a red wine made from purple Gamay grapes, which are grown in the Beaujolais region of France to celebrate the end of the harvest.   It’s fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale each year on the third Thursday of November.   To qualify as a Beaujolais Nouveau the grapes must be harvested by hand, and the wine is intended for immediate drinking, as it doesn't improve with age, and so this coincides nicely with the start of the festive season.

 

I spotted this wonderful old leather trunk amidst the donkeys and wine.   Although the old creased leather and heavy lid were full of character, the inside was the real treasure.   It had been lined with an antique fashion journal, it was truly lovely and so much more interesting than the old faded brown lining that could be seen peeping from beneath!

 

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.................and so onto the New Year ahead.  After a slow start to the year mid-February sees the arrival again of lots of dusty, creaky tables full of exciting old finds, together with ‘le jour de l'amour’ on the 14th February. 

This is a sweet pottery heart which I found last Valentines,’ with a smooth candy-floss pink glaze and three beautiful raised angels - it had no damage and was perfect with a length of silk ribbon threaded through for hanging in that special place!

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Just over two hours drive from me is the town of St Valentin, which holds a festival from 13th to the 15th of February.

Everything is possible in this small town - chocolates are made with lover’s initials, postcards and letters are stamped with special St Valentin stamps, the beautiful garden with its golden gazebo holds marriages (you have to book a few years in advance!).  Coaches of lovers arrive and marriage certificates are now even printed in Japanese - as most of the lovers are from Japan and come over especially!

Of more interest on this date (to flea market treasure hunters like myself) are the celebrations to mark

transhumance – whereby through until the 14th February livestock are brought down from the hills to graze on lower pastures.

This day of celebration consists of flea markets and brocantes, local produce, and livestock sales of sheep, goats, horses etc – so who knows, there may be the chance for a cute donkey yet!

janette.sumner@yahoo.fr